Bronchial asthma is a common disease. In view of its frequent relapses and unsatisfactory results post medication, which brings only symptomatic alleviation, acupuncture appears to be valuable. In many patients, the frequency of attacks decreased after acupuncture. There are even reports of cure in some cases. Here is the study done by Chen Ke-Zhen of China Academy of TCM.Body Acupuncture: Back shu points are usually used for treating asthma. Perpendicular insertion was practiced to a depth of 5-8 fen for Feishu and Fengmen, and to a depth of 1- 1.3 cun for Dazhui on a set of acupuncture points. The needles were retained for 20 minutes, with mild reinforcement.
Treatment was carried out everyday during the attack. As the symptoms subsided, it was performed every other day. The 10-treatment course was repeated one-two times at an interval of one week. Of the 111 cases treated with one-five courses, marked effect was observed in 48, improvement in 61, and no effect in two, with a total effective rate of 98.2 per cent.
Moxibustion: Yan administered scar-producing moxibustion at a specific acupuncture point. Moxibustion paste was applied to the point afterwards and was changed every day until the wound healed. Of the 299 treated cases, clinical control was observed in 30, marked effect in 57, improvement in 124, no effect was observed in 88, with a total effective rate of 70.6 per cent.
Collateral puncturing plus cupping: In this, tapping puncture by plum-blossom needles is followed by cupping. Needle was applied on specific acupuncture points until the skin turned red, and then cups were applied to the points for five minutes. The seven-treatment course was performed every other day. Four courses were completed for 70 cases and cure was observed in 43, marked effect in 11, improvement in 15, and no effect was observed in one.
Embedding of catgut thread: This method has proved very effective in controlling asthma attacks. The procedure involves strict sterilisation. The needle was rapidly inserted into the point and, after the arrival of Qi, catgut was pushed in. Sterilised gauze was applied to the wound after withdrawal of the needle. The course comprising 10 treatments was performed every two weeks. Of the 156 treated cases, cure was observed in 24, marked effect in 96, improvement in 31, and no effect was seen in five, with a total effective rate of 96.8 per cent.
Ear Acupuncture: Acupuncturists attached vacarria seeds to five-six points in an ear and told the patient to press the seeds three times a day. After four-five days, change was made to the other ear. Of the 61 treated cases, marked effect was observed in 13, improvement in 36, and no effect in 12, with a total effective rate of 80.33 per cent.
Many studies have reported increase in ventilation, which indicates the capability of acupuncture to relieve spasm of bronchial smooth muscles. The author is Head of the Department of Acupuncture, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi. This treatment is now being made available in India at his clinic in Delhi.