Bronchitis and Chest Congestion: A Chinese Medicine Diagnosis

By Pacific College - January 27, 2015

Bronchitis is a lung disease that is aggravated by industrial pollutants, dust, and smoke. If left untreated, bronchitis can result in the irreparable destruction of lung tissue. Asthma is a respiratory sensitivity to common irritants such as cigarette smoke, pollen, mold, and dust. Asthma is often associated with bronchitis, because a person with asthma has a higher likelihood of developing bronchitis. Asthmatic episodes are marked by the muscular walls of the breathing tubes in the lungs to contract in a sudden, sometimes violent, loss of oxygen, rendering a person unable to catch his or her breath.

Acupuncture and TCM Approach to Respiratory Conditions

In the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) view, qi (the vital energy proposed to regulate a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health) circulates throughout the body on pathways called meridians. Qi can be heavily influenced by emotional, environmental, and elemental forces, and disruptions in the flow of qi are thought to be responsible for disease. TCM views bronchitis as a disruptive invasion of wind, either hot or cold, into the body system. Conversely, Western medicine sees the same symptoms as a standard respiratory infection. Each patient has a unique condition, and acupuncture sessions take into account the individual details of the patient, both physical and emotional. Acupuncture treatments are designed to stimulate specific points on the body by inserting thin metal needles into the skin. The needles work to remove blockages in the flow of qi, allowing the body to return to a state of balance.

Herbal Remedies in TCM for Bronchitis and Chest Congestion

Alongside acupuncture, herbs are successfully used to treat bronchial symptoms, including cough, cold, perspiration, stomachaches, phlegm, chills, and headaches. Recent studies have shown that patients treated with Chinese herbs have a shorter duration of signs and symptoms. Frankincense, myrrh, Calculus Bovis, Chinese Paris Rhizome, and other herbs are used to reduce swelling, promote tissue regeneration, and clear heat and toxic materials. Source: (The Cochrane Library Issue 1, 2005)

A study by The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine (Jobst) found that patients with regular acupuncture sessions showed a reduction in the use of medications to control bronchial symptoms, particularly the use of steroids, which can cause extensive liver damage over an extended period of time. Acupuncture treatment is an effective method to increase the power of the body’s immune system, removing internal blockages to help control bronchial infections effectively and safely.


Source: Jobst KA. ”Acupuncture in asthma and pulmonary disease: An analysis of efficacy and safety.” The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine. 2(1): 179-206; discussion 207-10, 1996 Spring.

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