Acupuncture is effective for the alleviation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University researchers compared the efficaciousness of true acupuncture and sham acupuncture. The combination of true acupuncture plus standard aerobic training produced superior patient outcomes over patients receiving sham acupuncture plus identical standard aerobic training. The researchers conclude, “the addition of acupuncture to a standard aerobic training regimen improves the exercise tolerance in COPD patients and strengthens the effectiveness of aerobic training.” In addition, they note that “acupuncture combined with aerobic training effectively improves the pulmonary function and quality of life.” 
Exercise tolerance, pulmonary ventilation function, and quality of life were measured before and after treatment. The 6-minute walking distance (6-MWD), exercise duration, and maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) tests were recorded as indices of exercise tolerance. The 6-min walking test has been widely used to assess exercise tolerance in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Exercise duration refers to the length of time in which exercise is performed until an anaerobic threshold (AT) is reached. Maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) is the gold standard for assessing aerobic capacity. 
Pulmonary ventilation function was evaluated based on percentages of predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 second values (FEV1%), percentages of predicted forced vital capacity value (FVC%), FEV1/FVC ratio, and percentages of predicted maximum ventilatory volume (MVV%). In addition, quality of life was documented using St. George's respiratory questionnaire (SGRQ). There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups’ baseline measurements (p>0.05) prior to treatments.
Exercise Tolerance The true acupuncture group (standard acupuncture) significantly outperformed the sham acupuncture (control) group. The 6-MWD increased from 426.88 ±132.92 m to 491.01 ±146.22 m in the standard acupuncture group, and from 398.34 ±113.09 m to 410.60 ±125.6 m in the control group. Exercise duration increased from 337.00 ±187.93 m to 431.70 ±202.94 s in the standard acupuncture group, and from 318.71 ±88.10 s to 323.51 ±130.13 s in the control group. VO2 max increased from 17.97 ±6.62 mL/(min·kg) to 19.36 ±7.83 mL/(min·kg) in the standard acupuncture group, and from 398.34 ±113.09 mL/(min·kg) to 410.60 ±125.6 mL/(min·kg) in the control group. The standard acupuncture group produced superior outcomes for the improvement of the 6-MWD and exercise duration, and there is a statistically significant difference between the two groups (P<0.01).
Pulmonary Ventilation Function FEV1% increased from 41.72 ±17.95 to 46.96 ±21.00 in the standard acupuncture group, and from 36.16 ±16.29 to 36.00 ±15.49 in the control group. FVC% increased from 67.09 ±22.23 to 71.86 ±24.34 in the standard acupuncture group, and from 68.51 ±13.45 to 69.29 ±15.51 in the control group. FEV1/FVC increased from 51.71 ±15.79 to 55.27 ±14.28 in the standard acupuncture group, and from 44.83 ±14.86 to 42.81 ±14.13 in the control group. MVV% increased from 41.81 ±15.36 to 52.28 ±22.60 in the standard acupuncture group, and from 34.09 ±13.04 and 36.16 ±12.13 in the control group. The standard acupuncture group had significantly greater improvements across the aforementioned parameters (P<0.05, P<0.01). In addition, standard acupuncture produced significant improvements in quality of life scores (SGRQ).
Design The randomized controlled trial used the following study design. A total of 30 patients were recruited for the study and were randomly assigned to the sham acupuncture control group or the standard acupuncture group. All had a confirmed diagnosis of COPD. All were in a stable phase of COPD and the study limited the age range from 45–80.
The following exclusion criteria were applied: