A new study conducted by researchers in Beijing has suggested that a traditional Chinese herbal paste known as Xiao Chuan, or XCP, may help reduce winter exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The paste has been used to treat breathing difficulties in China for more than a thousand years.
The researchers enrolled 142 patients and randomized them to receive either XCP or a placebo paste. Both pastes were applied on the same back points four times during the eight-week period of July and August.
Patients were monitored for exacerbations from November through February. Adverse events were evaluated using the Chinese Herb Skin Stimulation Classification.
The incidence of adverse events was two percent in treatment group, and all patients who experienced an adverse event recovered without intervention after stopping the medication. There were no adverse events in placebo group.
"We had performed observational studies of XCP which had shown the paste decreased the frequency of COPD exacerbations, but this study is the first randomized controlled trial showing the effectiveness and safety of XCP in the prevention of COPD exacerbation," said study author Yongjun Bian, clinical researcher in the respiratory department of Gunag'anmen Hospital in Beijing.
"These data confirmed the beneficial effect of XCP on the prevention of winter COPD exacerbations," added Bian.
Xiao Chuan paste has been used in China for centuries to aid in breathing disorders, including COPD and asthma. To treat winter exacerbations of COPD and other breathing problems, the paste is applied in the summer on specific acupuncture points on the back.
"The herbs contained in XCP and natural remedies may have some immune regulation properties, which in turn may aid in their ability to prevent COPD exacerbations," said Bian.
The study results will be presented in detail at the ATS 2011 International Conference in Denver.