At the Northside Holistic Center we see many respiratory problems, ranging from acute diseases like colds, flus and bronchitises to more chronic issues like asthma. Bronchial asthma effects more than 17 million people in the USA and, by some estimates, 7.7% of the population. Over the last half a century, rates of asthma have been dramatically escalating with the Center for Disease control reporting that the rates had increased by 75% between 1980 and 1994.Consequently we are seeing many more cases in the clinic.
Satisfyingly, Chinese medicine can be quite effective in mitigating asthma for our patients and most clients find themselves to very satisfied with this holistic and long lasting approach. Asthma, like most conditions in the Chinese medical view of the body must be differentiated into what we term patterns. Patterns are constellations of symptoms and physical propensities which, when considered as a whole, give a trained practitioner insight into how to treat both the condition and the root of the problem simultaneously. It is what gives Chinese medicine it's considerable power in treating chronic issues, such as asthma.
Research Links on Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture and Asthma:
- A German study on in-patient pediatric patients found significant benefit to adding acupuncture to western interventions. (an article about the study can be read here):
The addition of acupuncture to an inpatient asthma rehabilitation programme results in improvement in bronchial hyper-reactivity and reduced anxiety for paediatric patients.
In the post-treatment acupuncture group, peak expiratory flow variability (a measure of bronchial hyper-reactivity) was found to show significant improvement compared with that of control patients. In addition, the acupuncture group was found to show significantly reduced levels of perceived anxiety on discharge from hospital.
- This article comes from a Chinese journal on pulmonary research and is titled, Effects of Acupuncture on Clinical Symptoms and Pulmonary Function in Patients with Bronchial Asthma. The study looks at 104 people suffering from asthma and being treated by acupuncture using a specific protocol with constitutional modifications. It concludes that acupuncture can be very useful in treating asthma, with a good immediate outcome. However the researchers also followed the study cohort for six months afterwards and was able to determine that even after treatment had ended the patients were dramatically less likely to suffer asthma attacks and used far less medication then those who had not been treated by an acupuncturist.
- A research study from a hospital in China, following 100 patient admissions showed a dramatic effect using acupuncture to treat an acute asthma attack. While we in the USA rarely treat this situation because patients' usually already have inhalers and access to the emergency room, it is exciting to see research supporting the contention that acupuncture can be useful to treat all stages of bronchial asthma.
- A 2006 study from the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing is very interesting, despite being rife with the specific terminology of Chinese medicine. In essence it demonstrates a strong response to acupuncture revealed by an dramatic increase in pulmonary function and significant decrease in heart rate variability during an acute asthma attack.
- A small pilot study in the Journal of the Chinese Medical Association showed immediate bronchiodilating effect and improvement in pulmonary function in those suffering from asthma.
- This article is more of a biomedical discussion of how some of the acupuncture points that we might choose to treat asthma may work, from a western perspective. Still very interesting.