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  • Writer's pictureAnthony DiSalvo, LAc

TCM Respiratory Distress Emergency Protocol For COVID-19

COVID-19 (SARS CoV-2) is causing sudden respiratory distress for many people. A patient can rapidly develop shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. This requires immediate medical attention often leading towards intubation and support with a ventilator. Sometimes hospital facilities become overburdened and supplies are limited. How can we help lower the chances a patient will require intubation and buy them time for recovery? 

There is an emergency protocol used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to temporarily relieve shortness of breath in patients with obstructive pulmonary disorders. The effects tend to last on average 8-12 hours. This technique helps increase oxygen saturation levels that have fallen dangerously low. Utilizing this method would assist in buying some time in seeking further medical attention, allow time for appropriate medications to take effect and perhaps lessen the chance a patient requires intubation and ventilator support. 

The acupuncture point utilized is located on the tip of the nose and is called “Su Liao” (DU-25), the 25th acupuncture point on the governing meridian. We use a safe and simple method with a common lancet (i.e. used in diabetic care) to prick the nose and release a small amount of blood. The effects are immediate. 

This technique is typically utilized in TCM for emergency care when treating patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). It is used in adjunct to emergency medical support. The technique is not sufficient enough on its own. Caution is required for those with any blood clotting disorders or blood borne pathogens (i.e. HIV, Hepatitis C).

The following video demonstrates this technique on a patient who was suffering from shortness of breath and difficulty breathing due to COVID-19. This patient’s oxygen saturation levels fell dangerously low to 92% (average O2 Sat safe levels 95-100%). The effects are immediate and oxygen saturation levels stabilize at 96% within 5 minutes and the patient's ability to breathe improves. This technique can be repeated once every 8-12 hrs. 

We hope that by sharing this TCM emergency protocol we can help save more lives, especially for those who do not have access to immediate medical care or if emergency supplies run on short supply. Integrative medical care can give patients the best chances for recovery from COVID-19. 

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