Published: February 13, 2023

It is easy to take breathing for granted because it is involuntary, happening all the time, even while we sleep. When breathing trouble and respiratory issues develop, they can range from mildly inconvenient, like seasonal allergies, to incredibly debilitating and dangerous, like chronic respiratory diseases or issues. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been used for decades to help ease respiratory symptoms and treat issues in the lungs, throat, and sinuses. 

The efficacy of TCM depends greatly on the severity of the respiratory issue and what is being used to treat it. Not all options are effective, and some offer a more gentle approach to symptoms than Western medicine. This can be especially useful when treating long-term problems like allergies or asthma, where continuous use of artificial medicine could negatively impact the body. 

Efficacy of TCM

Chronic respiratory issues, such as bronchitis and asthma, can lead to coughing, wheezing, and consistent shortness of breath. While Western medicine typically looks for triggers for these symptoms, TCM aims to treat them more directly, looking at the areas affected, like the lungs. 

Herbs and acupuncture have been shown to benefit people struggling with the above symptoms. However, more studies may be necessary to fully understand how TCM impacts respiratory issues. To ensure proper treatment using TCM, it’s crucial to consult a licensed practitioner. They can recommend options based on symptoms and provide correct care. 

Herbs for Respiratory Issues

Chinese herbs have been shown to reduce asthma symptoms and lower hospitalization rates in children. The herbal formulas most recommended for children in the study to treat asthma were Xin Yi Qing Fe Tang, Xiao Qing Long Tang, and Ma Xing Gan Shi Tang. Asthma impacts millions of children and adults, and Western treatment options can have adverse side effects not found in TCM. 

Another herbal formula frequently used to treat respiratory issues, especially those found in children, is Yu Ping Feng, which has been studied for its impact on respiratory symptoms. A study conducted in 2022 to determine the safety and efficacy of the formula showed that children treated with Yu Ping Feng saw a much more significant reduction in recurrent respiratory tract infections than those in the placebo group (about 73% compared to 39%). 

Not all herbal formulas have been rigorously studied, so it is important to use caution when using herbs for respiratory issues and only use high-quality herbs prescribed by a licensed practitioner. Finding the right herbal formulas can help improve symptoms and allow you to avoid the negative side effects like drowsiness and fatigue often associated with antihistamines. 

Acupuncture for Respiratory Issues

Acupuncture has been shown to have numerous benefits, including its ability to promote unobstructed flow within the body, which is crucial for addressing lung-related problems. By increasing blood flow and expanding airways, acupuncture can facilitate smoother breathing and reduce inflammation. This alleviates coughing, muscle contractions, and spasms while also improving lung capacity. 

In TCM, respiratory issues such as asthma are often attributed to weakened kidney qi, which makes it difficult for the body to use lung qi during inhalation efficiently. By addressing these underlying imbalances, acupuncturists can help to improve respiratory function and boost both immune function and overall vitality. Acupuncture can also help reduce symptoms from seasonal allergies like runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing.

Additional Methods

A TCM practitioner may also recommend dietary adjustments and cupping as solutions to alleviate respiratory symptoms. Cupping helps increase the blood flow needed to allow more oxygen to reach cells throughout the body, and dietary adjustments help reduce excess mucus often associated with respiratory issues. 

Fewer Symptoms, Fewer Side Effects

Several TCM methods have shown success in treating respiratory issues and helping people live more symptom-free lives. This does not mean every option will work for every respiratory illness, but treatments like acupuncture and herbal formulas could help. Some specific treatments have undergone more rigorous studies to understand their efficacy. But many studies are ongoing to understand better how TCM can help respiratory issues. 

It’s imperative to see a licensed practitioner when seeking out treatment options. TCM offers excellent options to help manage and reduce symptoms, but a practitioner will know what to best recommend on a case-by-case basis. Using the best treatment options and the highest quality formulas can ensure the best results. KPC uses the strictest quality control guidelines to guarantee the best herbs. Working toward the goal of better health, KPC produces only high-quality herbs to improve well-being and balance in the body.


*Please note: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This article is not intended to suggest specific treatments for patients or that any supplements mentioned prevent or cure diseases or problems. Before taking any herbs, all patients should discuss their options with a licensed practitioner, including any other medications the patient is currently taking, as there may be contraindications between pharmaceuticals and herbs.

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