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Acupuncture for Asthma: Does it Really Work?

Acupuncture for Asthma: Does it Really Work?

To better manage their symptoms, people living with asthma have turned to alternative forms of treatment. One example is acupuncture for asthma, but does it really work?

Even though there aren’t enough studies supporting it, some research suggests that acupuncture for asthma is effective. It is an ancient practice that has both advantages and disadvantages.

In this article, we will understand whether acupuncture for asthma is useful, what this alternative medicine is about, and what should one keep in mind if one are opting for this form of therapy for asthma.

But, first, let’s understand what is asthma?

What is Asthma?

Asthma is the inflammation of your airways. It occurs when your airways are inflamed and the muscles around them tighten. This, combined with extra mucus in your lungs, leads to shortness of breath and tightness in your chest.

Asthma is a serious condition that requires daily treatment with medication and inhalers, especially if you suffer from a severe form. Some symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, breathlessness, tightness in your chest, and the skin around your ribs stretching every time you gasp for breath.

Asthma can happen due to a variety of contributing factors such as family history, allergic reactions, or a history of viral infection.

Possible triggers that can cause asthma episodes are allergens like dust mites or pet dander, environmental irritants such as smoke or pollution, obesity, other illnesses, weather conditions, exercise or even emotions like laughter or crying.

The need for alternative therapies like acupuncture arises because there is no cure for asthma. It is a lifelong condition whose symptoms can be managed with the right lifestyle, regular treatment, and precautions to avoid allergens.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an alternative treatment that involves inserting thin needles into someone’s skin at specific pressure points. When a trained therapist inserts these pins into these specific body parts, this helps release pressure or tension in that area, thereby providing relief.

Even though there are various studies that suggest acupuncture is safe, it has its own setbacks. Some of these include wound formation, wrong points pricked, and consistent pain in the areas of therapy.

Along with acupuncture, acupressure is another form of alternative medicine that is used to treat common ailments. These alternative therapies don’t always promise relief but they can increase the effectiveness of the existing treatment or medication.

Acupressure requires pressure on specific points that results in the elimination of tension from that body part or its surrounding areas.

It is still scientifically unclear how acupuncture works. However, needle therapy has been known to have both neurological effects; it can also help balance a person’s energy levels.

But because of this uncertainty, many medical doctors still don’t recommend it.

Some common conditions acupuncture therapy can help address are headaches, hypertension, backache, whooping cough, or even asthma in some cases.

It is, therefore, advised to choose a certified acupuncturist who has expertise in the field with some years of experience. Since this therapy is dependent solely on needles and pressure points, going to an inexperienced acupuncturist may no serve the purpose and can have other risks too.

Acupuncture for Asthma: Does it Work?

Though it promises several benefits to our wellbeing, more studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of acupuncture for asthma.

Please consult your doctor before opting for any form of alternative therapy as it can sometimes interfere with your ongoing treatment.

acupuncture for asthma

How effective is acupuncture for asthma?

Acupuncture has a very limited effect on asthma. However, it is worth noting that studies have shown its success in allergic asthma.

Allergic asthma is the kind of asthma you develop due to intolerance of common allergens or irritants like dust mites, pet dander, mold, pollen, pollution, or smoke.

Acupuncture for asthma can help support existing treatments and medications. These can include corticosteroids or inhalers. Different studies have suggested that acupuncture for asthma can show changes in the symptoms you usually suffer from.

Various studies have had characteristically different results in those who used acupuncture treatment for asthma. Some of these include improvements in their existing health issues, moderation in inflammation of the airways, decrease in asthmatic symptoms, and lowering the amount of inflammation caused by asthma.

A strong emphasis is laid on sticking to conventional medication used for asthma treatment and not to eliminate this aspect completely even when using acupuncture for asthma.

Some tips to keep in mind

  1. It is extremely important to consult your doctor before you consider acupuncture for asthma. Do not opt for this alternative medicine on your own.
  2. If you’re pregnant, it is strongly recommended not to choose acupuncture for asthma. This is because it can increase the risk of preterm labor.
  3. There is still little research available on this topic, hence health practitioners are apprehensive about this alternative therapy.
  4. Whatever limited research is available on acupuncture suggests that it may improve your quality of life, contain symptoms, or even boost your immunity. Though these results are case-specific and do not guarantee success in all scenarios.
  5. Do not, under any circumstances, self-medicate or self-diagnose. Even if you have opted for acupuncture for asthma, talk to your doctor about how to proceed.
  6. Watch out for symptoms if you start with acupuncture therapy. In most cases, you should feel a difference in two to three sessions. Note these down and let your doctor know about your progress.
  7. Look for an experienced acupuncturist who has dealt with cases who have or had asthma. This will help you understand what changes to look out for. Understand from your acupuncturist about this procedure and how they plan to go about it.
  8. Acupuncture or even acupressure are safe alternative medicine therapies. Continuing them with your existing treatment can show results. Do not go off your medication if you start seeing positive changes.
  9. Acupuncture for asthma has its own set of pros and cons. Consult your doctor, talk to fellow patients, and thoroughly research the treatment so you can make an informed decision.

Learn more about asthma triggers and treatments, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Acupuncture for asthma: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5500052/Accessed 16/05/2020

Asthma treatment: Do complementary and alternative approaches work?: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/in-depth/asthma-treatment/art-20044554/ Accessed 16/05/2020

Acupuncture for Asthma: Fact or Fiction?

https://journal.chestnet.org/article/S0012-3692(15)34840-6/fulltext Accessed June 30, 2021

Acupuncture on Treating Asthma

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6946403/ Accessed June 30, 2021

About Asthma

https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/3893-asthma.html Accessed June 30, 2021

Efficacy of Acupuncture in Asthma

https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/21/5/909.1 Accessed June 30, 2021

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Jun 30
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel