Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture for Asthma: Introdution
Note that all acupuncture points can be stimulated by other means other than needles, for e.g. with light frequencies, pressure, or electric signals
Acupuncture is an ancient medical art that developed over the course of thousands of years. While we still do not know all the mechanisms by which it works, we do understand some of them:
acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins and enkephalins, your own natural painkillers and feel good hormones
improves blood flow
connects various parts of the body via the connective tissue (i.e. fascia) (see The Spark in the Machine: how the science of acupuncture explains the mysteries of Western medicine by Daniel Keown, MD
can balance out the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system
has a direct effect on individual organs (for example the gall bladder will contract if specific points are stimulated to secrete more bile)
There are many different styles of acupuncture which are effective. The protocols discussed are just some of the methods that can be used. If you are a practitioner you may find that different protocols work better for certain patients. Especially if treating severe asthma you may want to try a different approach if you are finding it difficult to make progress. In addition to acupuncture, make sure you teach or refer to the Buteyko Method and many of the other approaches discussed on this website.
My teacher for auricular medicine, Dr. Li-Chun Huang, has been researching and practising auricular medicine for almost 50 years. She is the world's leading expert, and her methods are so accurate that she often is called in to hospitals when nobody knows where else to look for the cause of a problem. Using a small electrical point detector in addition to visual inspection and palpation, your ears can give an experienced practitioner an amazing amount of information about your health. Dr. Li-Chun's system allows for diagnosis of over 200 diseases based on the ears alone!
Since we are focussed on treating asthma, I will present the ear points used for diagnosis and treatment of asthma. Keep in mind, however, that there are likely to be a myriad of systems involved in asthma - for example the digestive system may be weak, your adrenal glands exhausted and your immune system overactive. So in addition to these points there are many others an experienced practitioner would check. Nevertheless, these points will definitely benefit your asthma. You can massage them or use "ear seeds" which you can have someone tape on to the spots (it is kind of hard to do for yourself!). If you do use the seeds, make sure you leave them in place for 3-5 days, and massage them between your fingers 3-4 times per day. If they bother you, or you are allergic to the tape, then of course remove them immediately.
See below for further instructions!
Treatment for Asthma:
Points to Seed: (blue dots)
Points to Massage: (blue arrows)
Massage vigorously along
the outer rim of the ear (helix).
Note to practitioners: the helix points should be bled on a regular basis to detoxify and regulate the immune system. Use Dr. Li-Chun Huang's 3-6-9 bleeding technique.
Sympathetic point relaxes smooth muscles, thus dilating the airways
Bronchus point regulates cough and wheezing and inflammation of the bronchial area.
Adrenal gland acts by stimulation of adrenal cortex for cortisol production and acts on beta receptors of the airways
Stop Wheezing - relaxes airways
Allergy Area - reduces hyper-immuneresponses as in allergic responses
Helix - this area helps to stimulate the Immune system, increase circulation and detoxifies the body. It can treat allergies and increase resistance to viruses, bacteria and parasites.
Master Tung's Points
THREE HORSES: 88.17, 18, 19
Location: on lateral thigh, between the stomach and Gall Bladder channel, on the line that divides the horizontal and vertical plain of the lateral thigh, in line with the superolateral border of the patella.
Middle Horse (88.18) is about 2 cun anterior to GB31 (midpoint), or 8 cun
(about 11 finger breadths) above the superolateral border of the patella.
The other two points are 3 cun distal (Lower Horse 88.17) and 3 cun proximal
(Upper Horse 88.19) to Middle Horse.
Needling: often needled bilaterally for lung conditions.
Retain needles for 45 minutes. For skin conditions like psoriasis, needle
deeply (Qi Level) for 10 minutes and then pull the needle right up to the surface
Indications: any respiratory conditions (bronchitis, pleurisy, asthma, allergies, COPD), nose and face issues (sinusitis, rhinitis), immune system regulation, autoimmune disorders, lymphatic congestion, tonifies kidneys (adrenals) through
the Lungs, relieves pressure in the ribs, disorders of the skin, such as psoriasis.
SAN CHA SAN: 22.17
Location: between the knuckles of the 4th and 5th metacarpal bones.
Needle 1.5 - 2 cun into the hollow towards Heart 8.
Indications: respiratory conditions (colds, allergies, asthma,
stuffy nose), autoimmunity, itchy skin, any issues with the sense organs.
WATER THROUGH & WATER GOLD: 1010.19, 1010.20
Location: 1010.19 is 4 fen down from the corner of the lip. 101.20 is at a
45 degree angle and 1 cun away from 1010.19 towards the middle of the chin.
Needle superficially and separately towards Stomach 7, or thread from 1010.20
to 1010.19. Use superficial needling technique.
Indications: Any type of cough, colds or asthma, particularly with Kidney vacuity.
Raises the qi into the upper jiao and tonifies Kidney Qi.
THREE SCHOLARS: 33.13, 14, 15 & 16
Location: On the lung channel on the forearm. 4, 7, 10 cun up from Lung 9 (crease of wrist) and Lung 5.
Indications: asthma, dyspnea, Any lung or heart condition with Kidney qi deficiency.
DOUBLE SAINT: 22.01, 22.02
Location: Opposite Ling Ku and Da Bai on the thenar eminence of the thumb.
Indications: weak lung pulse, flus and colds, diaphragm issues
EARTH WATER 22.11
Location: 3 points in a line, the middle point is just lateral to Lung 10, right off the metacarpal bone of the thumb. Needle tight to the bone.
Indications: phlegm and dampness in the lungs
FOUR CREVICES: 11.01, 2, 3, & 4
Location: on the B line of the forefinger, four points spaced evenly between the 1st and 2nd and 2nd and 3rd metacarpal bones. The B line divides the pink and white skin of the forefinger on the side closest to the thumb.
Indications: Hardening of the lungs (remodelling), and stagnation of the chest
THREE EMPERORS 77.18,19 & 21:
Location: on the Spleen channel of the lower leg. The lowest point (HUMAN EMPEROR 77.21) is very close to Sp 6. The second point (EARTH EMPEROR 77.19) is 7 cun above 77.21, and the last point (KIDNEY GATE 77.18) is 1.5 cun below Sp 9.
Indications: many indications, but especially useful to tonify the Spleen/Stomach and the kidneys. Also great for hormonal issues, which often influence asthma (such as premenstrual asthma).
FOUR FLOWER UPPER AND CENTER 77.-08 -09
Location: same as St 36 and 37 but closer to the bone of the tibia
Indications: Strengthens Spleen and Stomach, immunity, great for asthma
LING GU AND DA BAI
Location: Ling Gu is similar in location to LI4 but just off the joint formed by the two metacarpal bones of the thumb and forefinger. Da Bai is similar to LI3, but needled towards SI 3 between the tendon and the bone.
Indications: many. Used be to guide the Qi to the upper body.
LEG THOUSAND METAL 77.24 & LEG FIVE METAL 77.25
Location: 7 and 9 cun up from lateral malleolus, just anterior to the fibula.
Indications: any issues affecting the throat such as laryngitis, pharyngitis, esophageal issues, plum pit qi, and thyroid problems.
STOP ASTHMA POINTS - Fei Xin: 11.11
Location: On the G line of the ring finger, 3 evenly spaced points in the
middle third of the finger (between PIP and MIP joints). The G line is on
the dorsal surface of the hand, in the midline of the finger.
Indications: any type of wheezing.
HUMAN, EARTH AND HEAVEN CLAN: 44.08, 9 & 10
Location: On the lateral upper arm, on the radial side of the biceps muscle, 3, 6 and 9 cun above the crease of the elbow.
Indications: shortness of breath due to lung problems, increases circulation of blood in the chest
SEVEN TIGERS 77.26
Location: 1.5 cun posterior to lateral malleolus, 2,4 and 6 cun above lateral malleolus, just in front of achilles tendon.
Indications: pleuresy, chest pain, chest contusion, trapezius pain, thoracic tension, sternum and clavicle pain.
POINTS FOR RELATED ISSUES
Location: two points located 1and 2.5 cun above Lu 5.
Indications: allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, cough, colds
FU GE SAN
Location: 3 points, the first is located 0.8 cun below LI-11, and the other two are 0.8 cun on either side.
Indications: Tonify immunity, increases white blood cell count, used for loss of sense of smell or taste
Traditional points for asthma depend on the TCM differential diagnosis, and whether or not the asthma is being treated for an acute flare up or for the underlying pattern. Here are some classical points that can be combined according to pattern discrimination:
Points to relieve wheezing: Ding Chuan
Points to tonify the Lungs and Defensive Qi: Lung 7 & 9, Urinary Bladder 13, Large Intestine 10
Points to clear heat from the Lungs: Lung 5
Points to relieve phlegm: Stomach 40
Points to strengthen the Kidneys: Kidney 3 & 7, Ren 4, Urinary Bladder 23
Points to Strengthen the Spleen: Stomach 36, Spleen 3, Ren 12, Urinary Bladder 20
Points to expel pathogenic Wind: Large intestine 11, Urinary Bladder 13
Points to Clear Heat: Du 14, Large Intestine 11
Points to Relieve Stress: Liver 3, Du 20, Yin Tang
Points to Move Blood: Urinary Bladder 17, Spleen 10
EXAMPLE TREATMENT PROTOCOL FOR ASTHMA (Brad Whisnat):
Bilateral Water Through & Water Gold 1010.19 & 1010.20
Ling Ku & Da Bai
3 scholars 22.03 (Xie Bai)
Ki 2, 4, 7 4 Horses
3 Emperors 77.08 & 77.09
EXAMPLE TREATMENT PROTOCOL FOR SINUS PROBLEMS:
Source: Brad Whisnat seminar. For better descriptions of points go to Cat's TCM website
Susan Johnson webinar for eLotus
Treatment Protocol Examples
SUSAN JOHNSON'S PROTOCOL
Bilateral Four Horses
Bilateral San Cha San
Bilateral Water Through & Water Gold
Cupping is a very useful technique to relieve asthma by invigorating circulation in the chest, relaxing tense muscles and releasing toxins. Cups can be applied in different ways to the upper and mid back for this purpose. A vacuum is generated under a plastic or glass cup which draws the skin and underlying tissues into the cup for a period of time - approximately 10 minutes. A series of cups can be left in place or slid over the back area using some massage oil. Cupping may lead to temporary discolouration. The darker the dislocation, the more stagnation or toxicity is likely present - thus eliminating these negative influences can make it well worth the temporary purple circles left on your back. Cupping can greatly speed up the efficacy of TCM treatments, and is really a good idea to have done on a regular basis if you have chronic respiratory conditions. Back muscles tend to be tense from strained breathing and anxiety brought about by breathing difficulties, the release of which can give a patient a great sense of relief. Cupping is also an excellent method to relieve colds and coughs.