Acupuncture for asthma may sound like an odd combination. Lots of people have asthma, but not many people have tried acupuncture as a natural remedy. But when you have tried everything else and are desperate for some relief then it’s tempting to give it a try.
Breathing is something that most us never think about. It’s an unconscious process and unless we’re ill, we easily get the oxygen we need. But for people with asthma, breathing is always on their minds. There is always the chance that an asthma attack will leave them gasping for air. Sometime these attacks are predictable and sometimes they are not, sometimes they are minor and easily handled at home, and sometimes asthma suffers end up in an emergency room. It’s no wonder that some asthma sufferers have turned to acupuncture for asthma.
Asthma is a chronic disease with no apparent easy cure. There are different types of asthma, but they all produce the same signs and symptoms: rapid breathing, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and the uncomfortable sensation of suffocation. The exact cause of asthma is not known. In fact there may be several underlying factors involved including genetics but there is no doubt that environmental factors – cold, dust, pollution, etc – trigger the attacks.
During the attacks, inflammation and constriction of the respiratory passages limit the amount of air that can be inhaled, the attacks can last for minutes or hours. But although there is no cure, there are constant efforts to find new methods of treatment, and there are practitioners and patients who believe that acupuncture for asthma is the answer.
Acupuncture is a very old system of medicine. It is not clear where acupuncture originates from, but it has been most closely associated with China. In acupuncture, very narrow needles are inserted into the skin at certain key points in the body. They are so fine and barely penetrate the skin so that no, or hardly any, sensation is felt.
The needles are said to correct a disharmony in the flow of energy through the body, a disharmony that is said to be the cause of disease. Traditional, Western medicine has several theories about how acupuncture works. Reaearch has shown that it stimulates the release of natural pain relievers, endorphins. Of course, the big question is, does acupuncture work? And can acupuncture successfully treat asthma?
Well,the answers are not clear – and they depend on whom you ask. According to traditional acupuncturists, yes, acupuncture for asthma is an effective treatment, especially with asthma in young children.
Acupuncture, they say, has worked where nothing else has. But ask the same question – does acupuncture for asthma work – of doctors and scientists who have been trained in traditional, Western medicine and scientific methodology, and the answer will be quite different.
Acupuncture, they say, is as interesting phenomenon, but there is no conclusive evidence that acupuncture for asthma works, and a review of the scientific studies that have attempted to answer this question have not proven acupuncture to be a viable technique for treating asthma. If there are reports that it works, they say that these can be explained by the placebo effect. The placebo effect states that medications or medical techniques/ procedures may be perceived by the patient as effective because they believe they are effective, but there is no measurable effect.
So can acupuncture truly help someone who suffers from asthma? That seems to depend on your point of view. If you feel that illness is caused by disruption in energy flow and you are convinced by anecdotal reports, the only reasonable answer is: try it and find out. Acupuncture for asthma is very safe; serious adverse effects are very rare. But if you are the type of person who needs proof in the traditional sense, it may make more sense to stick with the medications/therapies you are taking and wait for solid evidence that acupuncture is a natural remedy that can help treat your asthma.