Dyspnea on exertion (DOE) is a major symptom of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and is difficult to control. This study was performed to determine whether acupuncture is superior to placebo needling in improving DOE in patients with COPD who are receiving standard medication. 68 patients from the Kansai region of Japan who were diagnosed as having COPD and were receiving standard medication participated in a randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial. Participants were randomly assigned to traditional acupuncture (real acupuncture group) or placebo needling (placebo acupuncture group). Both groups received real or placebo needling at the same acupoints once a week for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, the Borg scale score after the 6-minute walk test was significantly better in the real acupuncture group compared with the placebo acupuncture group. Patients with COPD who received real acupuncture also experienced improvement in the 6-minute walk distance during exercise, indicating better exercise tolerance and reduced DOE. The authors conclude "This study clearly demonstrates that acupuncture is a useful adjunctive therapy in reducing DOE in patients with COPD".
Suzuki M, Muro S, Ando Y, Omori T, Shiota T, Endo K, Sato S, Aihara K, Matsumoto M, Suzuki S, Itotani R, Ishitoko M, Hara Y, Takemura M, Ueda T, Kagioka H, Hirabayashi M, Fukui M, Mishima M. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): the COPD-acupuncture trial (CAT). Arch Intern Med. 2012 Jun 11;172(11):878-86.