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Asthma is a common condition that affects the airways – the tubes that carry air from the nose and mouth into the lungs. It causes these tubes to become narrow and inflamed resulting in the typical symptoms of shortness of breath, wheezing and cough. Though many sufferers have quite mild asthma, possibly triggered only by exercise, an infection or by coming into contact with something they are allergic to, three people still die every day from asthma in the UK. Most treatment involves using inhalers or ‘puffers’, either regularly as a preventive or used occasionally when symptoms occur.
Though the evidence on the use of acupuncture in asthma is somewhat confusing and contradictory many acupuncturists, especially those using traditional Chinese acupuncture, report dramatic successes.
Asthma is – at least in part – an immune-related disorder and it is possible that asthma can affect the immune system in some individuals to prevent attacks.
Clinical experience suggests that acupuncture can help some people with asthma but that others are not helped. This would not be surprising because asthma is not a uniform disease but is really a description of symptoms which have a wide variety of different causes. As asthma can be life-threatening, medication should not be stopped during acupuncture treatment without medical approval.
The bottom line is that acupuncture may help some people with asthma but regular treatments may be needed for many months.
People whose asthma is mainly allergic may be more likely to be helped by acupuncture.