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An acupuncture-based therapy can have good long-term control of asthma

What is asthma?

Asthma, also called bronchial asthma, is a disease that affects your lungs. It’s a chronic (ongoing) condition, meaning it doesn’t go away and needs ongoing medical management.

Asthma affects more than 25 million people in the U.S. currently. This total includes more than 5 million children. Asthma can be life-threatening if you don’t get treatment.

What is an asthma attack?

When you breathe normally, muscles around your airways are relaxed, letting air move easily and quietly. During an asthma attack, three things can happen:

  • Bronchospasm: The muscles around the airways constrict (tighten). When they tighten, it makes your airways narrow. Air cannot flow freely through constricted airways.

  • Inflammation: The lining of your airways becomes swollen. Swollen airways don’t let as much air in or out of your lungs.

  • Mucus production: During the attack, your body creates more mucus. This thick mucus clogs airways.

When your airways get tighter, you make a sound called wheezing when you breathe, a noise your airways make when you breathe out. You might also hear an asthma attack called an exacerbation or a flare-up. It’s the term for when your asthma isn’t controlled.

What is asthma control?

There is no known cure for asthma, but it can be controlled.

The goal of asthma treatment is to control symptoms. Asthma control means you:

  • Can do the things you want to do at work and home.

  • Have no (or minimal) asthma symptoms.

  • Rarely need to use your reliever medicine (rescue inhaler).

  • Sleep without asthma interrupting your rest.

Side effects of steroid inhalers

Steroid inhalers usually cause few or no side effects if used correctly and at low doses.

Some people get:

a sore mouth or throat

a hoarse or croaky voice

a cough

oral thrush – a fungal infection that causes white patches, redness and soreness in the mouth

If you're taking a high dose for a long time, there's also a small chance you could get some of the side effects of steroid tablets, such as an increased appetite, mood changes and difficulty sleeping (insomnia).

Taking high doses for a long time can slow down the normal growth of children and teenagers.

New acupuncture-based therapy: Zhang’s cupping triple therapy

In a case series study, an acupuncturist in Munich, Germany, used the combination of cupping, infrared light, and acupuncture, resulted in a good long-term of asthma.

The detail of this therapy is:

1.1 Electric cupping. The electric cupping machine is recombined from a sputum suction machine and a plastic vacuum cupping machine. The pressure was between minus 0.5 and minus 0.8 atmospheres. The size of cup varies, depending on the need of shape and area in the skin, usually with an internal diameter of 3.5cm -5.5cm.

Cups were placed on the back, waist and sacrum area. After setting the cups for 10 minutes, a second session of cupping was placed at the other location that the first session did not cover and set for another 10 minutes.

1.2 Acupuncture. One inch acupuncture needles were inserted in the Jiaji points, from the level of GV 14 (Dazhui) point to GV3 (Yaoyangguan) point. For patients with pain in the sacroiliac joint region, needles were added locally. The duration of acupuncture was 20 minutes.

1.3 Infrared light. Infrared therapy was applied in the whole process of cupping and acupuncture. The total voltage is 750 volts, covering the whole back area. The total duration of therapy was about 50 minutes.

In the report, a total of 57 cases were enrolled, 30 cases have ceased to use asthmatic preventatives or reliever medications and no asthmatic attack recurred. 24 cases improved and only used medications occasionally or half dosages of medications. Only three cases had not responded, and the condition remained unchanged. The total effective rate was 94.7%. This is a very impressive clinical outcome.

My comments:

Our clinic also provides this acupuncture-based cupping triple therapy. The pilot data showed a similar result to the report. For example, one patient with asthma for more than 50 years, with a deteriorating pulmonary function. With several sessions of this therapy, she only needed to use steroid inhaler occasionally, and the pulmonary function is also significantly improved. Usually, for a chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, symptom control is not easy, and the improvement of pulmonary function is very rare, if not impossible. So this therapy is very promising the asthma and worth large clinical trial to confirm the result and the expand to help more patients in need.


Liang Z. Zhang’s cupping triple therapy for asthma, a retrospective case series with 57 cases. World Chinese medicine (US Version). 2021,2: 95-103. (In Chinese)

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