Because they are safer than and just as effective as Western conventional medications, natural alternative treatments are becoming more and more in demand by people diagnosed with asthma. Some doctors seem to appreciate these facts and may recommend such treatments. But in severe life threatening asthmatic attacks, they would treat patients with emergency conventional treatments always.
With regards to alternative asthma treatments, acupuncture has been proven to work in some clinical studies. However, it is important to note that if one wants proper asthma treatment and good results, treatment should be carried out by a qualified and experienced acupuncturist.
Problems of Studies
One of the problems with asthma acupuncture treatment studies is that these studies have been limited in several ways. First, for example, we may question whether the acupuncture therapy studies utilize protocols that mirror those used in everyday clinical practice. In most studies, a couple of different acupuncture treatments can be used, which can further complicate the outcomes.
The two studies dealing with acupuncture’s use in treating asthma which were reviewed and published in the Cochrane Library had findings that did not produce adequate information that would extrapolate the effects of acupuncture to the general population level.
Researchers will often strive to search for the most effective combination of acupoints for the treatment of asthma since clinical trials are often provided with a limited amount of case studies. However, treatment approaches are even more specific both in clinical practice and in valuable books. The acupoints that are needled are based according to the type of pattern of disharmony the patient suffers from, which may either be a deficiency or excess pattern.
Moreover, for the traditional relief of asthmatic breathing, there are quite a number of acupoints at the back and front of the ribcage that are also be used but these points are rarely mentioned in textbooks and in clinical trials.
It is a bit ironic to see that even if there have been several studies proving acupuncture’s ability to help alleviate asthma symptoms, the bulk of these studies use procedures that are rarely or even never used in real acupuncture treatments.
So, what would convince people that acupuncture can truly help relieve asthma? Well, when it comes to acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medicine treatments, a disease such as asthma is s seen as a sign of a deeper underlying disharmony. So, when a patient goes to a skilled and qualified practitioner who has the skill to diagnose and to properly identify the root cause of the disharmony, then and only then will a treatment plan be formulated that can guarantee treatment or even a cure for the problem.
That said, asthma patients are never told by their acupuncturist to stop taking their current asthma medications. Your conventional treatments are still very important and may even save your life. If you suddenly start having a severe asthma attack, you need an inhaler to survive. Your acupuncturist may probably recommend a gradual tapering of your medications. Patients are also given a choice to do what they think is safe and are comfortable with.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Asthma
Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM sees asthma as the result of certain disorders associated with the functioning of the kidney, stomach, and lungs. Therefore, the acupoints selected for treatment are located just above channels or meridians related to those three organs. In certain cases, the bladder meridian may also be included in the treatment.
There are some bladder acupoints found on the upper part of the back that are used for asthma treatment. Some of them are quite important as qi (energy) flow blockages occurring in the back can determine the severity of asthma breathing problems.
In TCM, the organs are not seen in the same way as western medicine which considers them as strictly anatomical. In TCM, the organs are vessels that carry a person’s energetic, emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects.
Based on the Five Element Theory of TCM, an interrelationship exists among the different organ systems of the body which is used to diagnose disharmony patterns. The five elements are water, metal, earth, fire, and wood.
The lungs are yin organs and they correspond to the metal element. The large intestine is a yang organ and it is associated with the color white, the season of autumn, and the metal element. Respiration as well as excretion of waste material from the body and respiration is controlled by this element. When the lungs and large intestine are imbalanced, it can lead to grief, sadness, bowel problems, coughing, skin conditions, shortness of breath, and asthma.