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Acupuncture For Asthma

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The lung meridian, like that of the heart and pericardium, links the hand with the chest (see Figure 1). All of the lung meridian points are indicated for coughing and dyspnea.

Figure 1: Points on the lung meridian.



Acupuncture points that are on the chest and back may be considered local points for treatment of asthma because the needles are inserted close to the lungs. The stomach, kidney, spleen, and conception vessel channels all have points on the chest, while the bladder meridian and governing vessel have points on the back over the lungs.

The stomach is understood to be related to asthma in two ways:

  1. Failure of proper stomach function leads to phlegm accumulation that congests the lungs;
  2. Uprising stomach qi may interfere with the downward motion of the lungs.

Stomach meridian points ST-12 through ST-18 are indicated for asthmatic breathing (ST-17, at the nipple, is not used). These points run down from the clavicle along the front of the rib cage (see Figure 2).


Figure 2: Points on the stomach meridian.

The kidney is understood to be related to asthma following the concept that the kidney system aids the downward movement of the lung qi (the kidney grasps the lung qi). Further, asthma that begins in early childhood and that which develops late in life are thought to reflect deficiencies of kidney essence. Modern research suggests that asthma is associated with deficiencies in adrenal corticosteroid production, which is occurs often in persons diagnosed as having kidney deficiency syndrome. Kidney meridian points KI-22-K-27 run up the chest, where the meridian ends at KI-27 (see Figure 3);

Figure 3: Points on the kidney meridian

these points are indicated in the acupuncture texts as beneficial for treating asthma.

A portion of the spleen meridian also runs along the chest(see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Points on the spleen meridian.

The points SP-17-SP-21 are indicated for cough, dyspnea, and chest distention. The points at the top of the spleen meridian, SP-20 and SP-21, are especially suggested for this purpose.

The conception vessel runs up the center of the body, and traverses the chest from points CV-17 through CV-22 (see Figure 5);

Figure 5: Points on the conception vessel meridian.


these points are indicated for asthmatic breathing. The points at the two ends of this segment, CV-17 and CV-22, are used in several acupuncture formulas for asthma. In general, points on the conception vessel treat the internal organs that are close by, though they also have other functions, and the treatment of lung and heart diseases are the associated functions of the points on the chest.


On the back, there are a large number of bladder points; the inner path of the bladder meridian has points along each of the spinal vertebrae. These points are understood to be associated with organ systems that are near their sites (a somewhat similar concept is applied in modern chiropractic therapy). BL-11-BL-17, running over the upper portion of the lungs(see Figure 6),

Figure 6: Points on the bladder meridian.


are indicated for asthmatic breathing. In particular, BL-13 is heavily relied upon. Its name is feishu, translated as "lung hollow," and it is generally referred to as the back shu point of the lungs (it is the main association point for the lungs on the bladder meridian). It has been reported (see Acupuncture: A Comprehensive Text (3)) that "BL-13 will be sore to the touch on all asthmatics. Those patients who have received acupuncture at BL-13 with no result will be cured if moxibustion is performed there."

Finally, there is a pair of asthma points of more recent description that are based on clinical experiences and not the standard meridian pathways (see Figure 7).

Figure 7:dingchuan and Chuanxi. The points are slightly closer to the GV line than they appear in this illustration.

These are chuanxi ("gasping;" M-BW-1a) and dingchuan("dyspnea stabilizer;" M-BW-1b) that are on the back and lateral to GV-14 (dazhui).Dingchuan is 0.5 inches to the side of GV-14, and Chuanxi is 1 inch to the side of GV-14. Some practitioners will treat at the same time the point at 1.5 inches to the side of GV-14, which is BL-11; however, it is more common to combine one or both of the extra meridian points with GV-14 (a common formula subset is GV-14 plus Dingchuan), or to simply use GV-14 instead of these off-meridian points. Dingchuan is one of the most frequently mentioned points in the modern literature on asthma treatment and it appears to replace BL-11 for treatment of asthma, as the latter is not mentioned in any of the modern point formulas, while the adjacent points BL-12 and BL-13 are commonly used. In some texts, chuanxi is not mentioned and dingchuanis instead described as being from 0.5-1.0 inches from GV-14, so that it replaces chuanxi. Dingchuan serves as an extension of the set ofHuatuo points (see Figure 8).

Figure 8:dingchuan as an extension of the Huatuo points.



Aside from lung meridian points on the arm, relatively few distal points are used in treating asthma, at least as major points. Some are applied as an adjunct to treat specific manifestations of asthma. The large intestine point LI-4 is sometimes used when there is stagnation and accumulation syndrome (even though it is LI-18, which is not included in acupuncture formulas for asthma, that is specified in the medical texts as an asthma point). In cases of phlegm accumulation, ST-40 (on the leg) and/or CV-12 (on the abdomen) may be used; ST-40 is the most frequently selected. The all-around tonic point, ST-36, may be included for cases of qi deficiency or general weakness, sometimes along with a leg spleen point (SP-3, SP-6, or SP-9). KI-3 may be utilized in strengthening the kidney to alleviate asthma, and CV-4 and/or CV-6 may be used in tonifying both the spleen and kidney in order to benefit lung qi and alleviate wheezing. BL-23 is sometimes used to tonify the kidney in treatment of asthma; it is the back shu point of the kidney.


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