Working as an Osteopath and a traditional Chinese Acupuncturist I encounter a number of patients with varying respiratory problems. The most common by far is snoring, affecting approximately 45% of men and 30% of women. Although it is not often the primary complaint, on further questioning it becomes apparent that this is a very common problem, be it every night or just a transient problem.

Osteopathy is a system of healing that uses techniques to manipulate the muscoskeletal system to enhance the body’s function. Acupuncture uses fine needles placed in specific points on the body that help to balance the smooth flow of energy or Qi.

If it’s a transient problem, the most common time for the majority of people to snore is when they are tired, or when they have had a drink. There are two factors here: 1. Alcohol is a muscle relaxant, 2. Tiredness leads to a weakness in muscles.  In both cases the common problem is fatigue; in the muscular and ligaments system.

Fatigue leads to weakness and loss of tone in the muscular lining in the upper respiratory tract. Add to this any restrictions in the airways, in the nose and/or postural restrictions that increase the demand on the the flaccid upper respiratory tract, leading to air vibrating the loose muscles and thus causing snoring.

Long hours sat slouched at a computer can lead to a classic chin forward posture. This causes the skull to rock back on the neck compressing the upper airways.  In order to help with snoring it is important to correct this bad posture by releasing the chest, diaphragm, lower and upper ribs. One must also bring the head into a better position by releasing the muscles at the front and sides of the neck (these muscles are responsible for both shallow breathing and also maintaining a bad posture) thus restoring muscle and ligaments balance.

From an acupuncture perspective the key is to restore balance to the body. Unlike western medicine acupuncture treats each person in a unique way, so there is no single list of points for snoring, instead you treat the person’s imbalance: for instance it may be due to a weak digestion and poor transformation of food leading to weak muscles. Or it could be weak kidney energy (in Chinese medicine the kidneys are responsible for diaphragmatic breathing) this would lead to shallow breathing and restricted tired neck muscles.

Of course there are many other problems that could lead to snoring and it is always important to visit your GP to be diagnosed in order to rule out causes like sleep apnoea.

If you would like more information about osteopathy and acupuncture please visit Byron’s website

Byron Spiers

Osteopath and Acupuncture Specialist