How Acupuncture Can Treat Respiratory Disorders

How Acupuncture Can Treat Respiratory Disorders

Acupuncture has been used for more than 2,000 years, and increasingly modern-day clinicians are finding a place for it in their practices. 

Researchers are investigating the use of acupuncture to treat different conditions and are finding that in most instances, it presents few risks and may offer plenty of benefits. 

At Osteopathic Center for Healing, our licensed medical acupuncturist, Neil Spiegel, DO, and Jennifer Gularson, PA-C, understand that the treatment offers many benefits and few drawbacks. 

You might be surprised if either provider suggests acupuncture for your respiratory illness, but recent research shows acupuncture can be effective in treating respiratory problems. 

Acupuncture 101

Most people have heard of acupuncture, but we’ve discovered that misconceptions about the technique abound. You may think that acupuncture is painful, not useful, or only for conditions that cause chronic pain, like low back pain. 

Acupuncture originated as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, but has been studied extensively by modern researchers. Most of the needles used in acupuncture are extremely fine, some as thin as a human hair. And our acupuncture patients generally report that it’s not painful and can even cause a sense of euphoria. 

Dr. Spiegel is a doctor of osteopathy who’s also trained in medical acupuncture. It’s a modality that can help relieve pain, ease stress, and improve numerous medical conditions, including respiratory problems. 

Respiratory illness and acupuncture

The phrase “respiratory illness” covers a great many different conditions. A common cold can lead to a respiratory illness, and lung cancer is also a respiratory illness. There are many degrees of sickness between those two extremes. 

To say that acupuncture can effectively treat respiratory illness is a very broad statement. Here, we discuss some specific illnesses for which acupuncture has been studied: cancer, COVID-19, and COPD. 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

COPD is the name of a group of diseases related to breathing. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common illnesses related to COPD. 

Acupuncture has been studied as a treatment for the shortness of breath, or dyspnea, which is often a symptom of COPD. In one study, the researchers concluded that acupuncture improved dyspnea and health-related quality of life for COPD patients. 


COVID-19, the disease at the heart of the recent pandemic, is a respiratory condition and is especially dangerous for the elderly. One case study describes the treatment of an 89-year-old woman with COVID-19. 

Her treatment included acupuncture, along with Chinese herbal medicine. The authors of the case study noted that although their study was preliminary and exploratory, the patient’s condition improved significantly and her clinical symptoms almost disappeared. 


Lung cancer causes pain, and often the treatments for it have undesirable side effects like dry mouth and hot flashes. Acupuncture can help relieve some of the discomforts associated with lung cancer, including: 

Do you want to know more? 

If you have respiratory problems and you’re curious about acupuncture, we encourage you to come in and talk to us. 

Whether you have one of the conditions listed here or some other breathing problem, acupuncture may be right for you. It’s very low-risk, and potentially quite beneficial. Schedule your appointment today at our Rockville, Maryland, office.

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