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Can Acupuncture Help Treat Asthma?

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Updated December 07, 2007

Question: Can Acupuncture Help Treat Asthma?
Answer: Despite its increased popularity and widespread use for a variety of reasons, most studies do not support the benefit of acupuncture for the treatment of asthma. Acupuncture is a part of traditional Chinese medicine and has been tried for many chronic diseases, including various allergic diseases such as asthma. The process involves inserting needles into the skin at exact points on the body, which is supposed to restore the balance of “vital flows.”

Most studies on acupuncture used to treat asthma are poorly designed, and not up to modern-day scientific standards. Many studies on acupuncture for asthma fail to use a control (a placebo, or “fake” treatment) group, and the investigators are often not blinded, meaning the researchers know who is getting the real treatment and who is getting a placebo treatment, and therefore they may be biased as to the outcome. When control groups are used, a “fake” form of acupuncture is administered; there has been no difference in benefit for asthma between the real and fake acupuncture.

At the present time, there is not enough evidence to suggest that acupuncture has any real benefit for the treatment of asthma. However, some advocates of acupuncture argue that even fake acupuncture has some benefit over doing nothing at all. Opponents of acupuncture argue that acupuncture, whether it’s real or fake, only helps people with asthma through the power of suggestion. Further studies are needed to assess whether real or fake acupuncture has any benefit for asthma over doing nothing at all.

Learn more about other alternative therapies for the treatment of asthma.

Source: McCarney RW, Brinkhaus B, Lasserson TJ, Linde K. Acupuncture for Chronic Asthma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 1999, Issue 1.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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