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Study Finds Acu-TENS Improves COPD Symptoms

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

A simple, straightforward study published in the October 2015 edition of the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine presents scientific evidence that transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation acupuncture (acu-TENS) helps improve symptoms for patients with chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD).

In the study "Effects of Transcutaneous Electrical Acupoint Stimulation on Patients with Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Prospective, Single-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study" 50 patients contending with COPD were engaged and split evenly into two groups. The experiment group underwent acu-TENS treatments, which stimulates acupuncture points by using machines that produce a mild electrical current. The current runs from the small device to the electrodes placed on the patient's body. The acupuncture points included Ding Chuan (a point located right off the spine, at the base of the neck), Zusanli (located on the Stomach meridian, a little below the knee), and two other points located on the Urinary Bladder Channel.

The control group received placebo treatments—the exact same placement of electrodes, minus the electrical stimulation. Both groups received treatments every other day, for a total of one month. The sessions lasted for 40 minutes each.

To accurately test the efficacy of the treatments, certain medical assessment tools were used. They included the forced expiratory volume (FEV), the six-minute walk distance (6MWD), oxygen saturation (SpO(2)), COPD assessment test (CAT), and the dyspnea visual analogue scale (DVAS).

At the end of the study, researchers found that CAT, DVAS, and FEV scores greatly improved. There was a small improvement in the SpO(2) and 6MWD scores. Researchers concluded that acu-TENS can significantly reduce the symptoms of patients suffering from COPD.

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Source: Liu X, Fan T, Lan Y, et. al. (2015). Effects of Transcutaneous Electrical Acupoint Stimulation on Patients with Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Prospective, Single-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(10)  http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2014.0284 Epub 2015 July 28 Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26218785 http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2014.0284

About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.


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