acupuncture COPD US news

Look who’s talking about COPD and acupuncture in US News!

acupuncture COPD US news
Photo: Amy Treasure

Acupuncture for the Treatment of COPD

What an honor for me to be interviewed by sports and health writer, Elaine K. Howley for the US News and World Report! It was a pleasure to be able to share some of Chinese medicine’s strengths in treating Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in, “Can Acupuncture Help with COPD?” (published online 8/4/17).

People are starting to realize they have more options

I came into Chinese medicine because I had run out of options with Western medicine. 20 years later, I am practicing and teaching complementary and alternative medicine because I feel passionately about helping others see what I’ve found: Hope, choice, and perseverance.

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”32″]I don’t believe in only one answer. I’m interested in what’s most helpful for you, right now.[/perfectpullquote]

My goal has never been to convince everyone that Chinese medicine is the answer to their issue. I don’t believe in one answer. I believe in the most helpful thing for a particular person at that particular time. Sometimes that will be Western medicine, and sometimes it may be Chinese medicine, a walk in the woods or dancing. I make a concerted effort to keep learning myself and to keep an ongoing dialogue with practitioners of different healing modalities, so as to constantly expand my view of what’s possible.

The more I know what’s possible, the more I can speak to it. The more I can speak to it, the greater chances someone who needs it will find it. What a gift to let my voice reach an even greater audience with this invitation. Thank you, Elaine!

How does acupuncture help treat COPD?

According to the British Acupuncture Council, acupuncture may help treat COPD by:

  • reducing bronchial immune-mediated inflammation (Carneiro 2005)
  • reducing inflammation in general by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003).
  • improving both airway mucociliary clearance and the airway surface liquid (Tai 2006).
  • regulating cytokine production (Jeong 2002, Joos 2000).

How can acupuncture help you?

While normally one might say, “The only way to know is to try!” I might argue, try and try again! There are so many different types of acupuncture — TCM, Korean, Japanese, Classical, 5-Element, etc. They each have their unique approach to differential diagnosis and treatment. So, if you’ve tried, but it wasn’t a good match – I encourage you to consider another. And if you haven’t tried any, I encourage you to start by connecting with a practitioner who leaves you feeling encouraged and inspired.

May you have much success!



Carneiro ER et al. Effect of electroacupuncture on bronchial asthma induced by ovalbumin in rats. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine2005; 11(1): 127-34.

Jeong HJ et al. Regulatory effect of cytokine production in asthma patients by SOOJI CHIM (Koryo Hand Acupuncture Therapy). Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology 2002; 24(2): 265-4.

Joos S et al. Immunomodulatory effects of acupuncture in the treatment of allergic asthma: a randomized controlled study. J Altern Compliment Med 2000; 6(6): 519-25.

Kavoussi B, Ross BE. The neuroimmune basis of anti-inflammatory acupuncture. Integr Cancer Ther 2007; 6(3): 251-7.

Tai S et al. Effect of needle puncture and electro-acupuncture on mucociliary clearance in anesthetized quails. BMC Complement Altern Med 2006; 6: 4.

Zijlstra FJ et al. Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture. Mediators Inflamm 2003; 12(2):59-69.


Moxibustion for Menstrual Cramps
Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Chinese Medicine Relieves Menstrual Cramps

Moxibustion for Menstrual Cramps
Photo: Brooke Cagle

What the Studies Show for Treating Menstrual Cramps


A 2016 systemic review and meta-analysis (“Moxibustion for Primary Dysmenorrhea at Different Interventional Times”) concluded “moxibustion leads to higher total effective rate [in treating menstrual cramps] and lower level of PGF2α in serum” as compared to nonmoxibustion treatment. While there was no difference in intervention time, the researchers suggest treating the condition 5 ± 2 days before menstruation can achieve good efficacy.

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”32″]Acupuncture and herbs outperformed painkillers like Aleve and Ibuprofen[/perfectpullquote]


A 2017 systemic review and meta-analysis (“Effects of acupoint-stimulation for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea compared with NSAIDs: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 RCTs”) concluded the advantages of acu-point stimulation outweighed those of NSAIDs [e.g. Aleve, Ibuprofen]“. Advantages noted include alleviating the symptoms of dysmenorrhoea, reducing the level of peripheral blood PGF2α and fewer side effects than NSAIDs.

Chinese Herbs

A 2016 systemic review and meta-analysis (“Herbal medicine (Danggui Shaoyao San) for treating primary dysmenorrhea: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”) found the Chinese herbal formula, “Dang Gui Shao Yao San,” was superior to analgesics and placebo in the treatment of menstrual cramps.

What is moxibustion?

A narrow definition declares moxibustion “the medical application of burning mugwort [an herb] floss on or over an acu-moxa point or an affected site.” (Wilcox, 1)

How does moxa relieve menstrual cramps?

Warm NeedleMenstrual cramps, in Chinese medicine, can be attributed to a number of differing patterns:

  • qi stagnation
  • blood stasis
  • qi and blood deficiency
  • liver and kidney deficiency
  • accumulation of cold

Depending on the underlying pattern of disease, treatment can differ. But one of the most consistently used treatment modalities is moxibustion.

Moxibustion, or moxa, is a great choice for treatment as it has the ability to warm interior cold, stop pain, and both nourish and move qi and blood. Not only does it cover so many bases medicinally, but it’s also something that can be done at home.

How can I use moxa to treat my menstrual cramps?

3-7 days before your period, visit your acupuncturist for my favorite kind of moxa treatment: “warm needle.” This technique applies moxibustion to the handle of an acupuncture needle that is inserted into the body. The heat of the moxibustion is comfortably and slowly delivered through the needle, deep into the channels and body. It’s very comfortable and soothing for the patient. In my office I use higher grade Japanese smokeless moxa for this technique.

When I send patients home, I often recommend they use what are called “stick-on cones” of moxa. This is a type of moxibustion that can also be treated to render it smokeless. It’s typically then adjoined to paper or cardboard that has a sticker-like base. You simply peel off one of the ‘cones’ from the sheet, and adhere it to your skin. Your acupuncturist should show you where to use this on your body. This is great for self-treatment between acupuncture visits.

What herbs are in Dang Gui Shao Yan San?

Dang shen
The meta-analysis looked at four different versions of this formula. They all shared a common base:

  • Dang gui, 10-40g
  • Bai Shao, 10-20g
  • Fu Ling, 10-25g
  • Cang Zhu, 10-25g
  • Ze Xie, 10-25g
  • Chuan Xiong, 10-30g

Other herbs added depending on the formulation include Wu Yao, Xiang Fu, Yan Hu Suo, Gan Cao, Gui Zhi, Dang Shen and/or Yi Mu Cao among others.

Will my health insurance cover it?

In WA state, acupuncture is considered an essential health benefit. Moxibustion is often covered under the same or different billing code. Before you receive treatment, you’ll want to check with your particular plan to find out if they reimburse treatment for menstrual cramps (“Unspecified Dysmenorrhea, ICD10 Diagnosis Code N94.6”). Not all plans in WA state do; but there are a number of them that will. Need help finding out? Drop me a line with your info!



Warm Needle
Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs & Supplements

What is Moxa (a.k.a. Moxibustion)? What does it treat?

What is moxa? Artemisia vulgaris Sturm13035

What is moxa?

Moxibustion refers to a type of external heat therapy in which a dried and processed herb, Artemisia vulgaris (i.e. moxa), is burned either directly or indirectly over acupoints or meridians on the skin. The herb, known as 艾葉 (Ai Ye) or mugwort leaf, can also be used internally in Chinese medicine herbal formulas. Moxa is a common adjunct to acupuncture; and while they often complement each other’s action, sometimes moxa treatment by itself can be even more effective.

What is moxa’s therapeutic function?

The heat produced by burning Ai Ye warms the qi and Blood in the channels, and is used to both treat disease and maintain vitality. Additionally, the burned herb can expel Cold and Dampness. Moxa is therefore commonly used to remedy chronic, weakened conditions and to reduce pain and increase range of motion when cold and damp have blocked the channels.

What is moxa effective at treating?

In Chinese medicine, moxibustion is used to treat cold conditions. While small sample size in randomized-controlled trials often presents a challenge to producing firm conclusions, favorable effects of moxibustion treatment have been reported in systematic review and meta-analysis of the following conditions:

How do I know if moxa is appropriate for my condition?

The best way to know if moxa could be helpful in addressing your concerns would be to get a differential diagnosis, provided by an acupuncturist or Chinese herbalist. Moxibustion is not appropriate for patients with febrile disease or over the low back/abdomen in women during pregnancy.

More on Moxa