Asthma is a common disease characterized by recurrent attacks, and manifests itself in wheezing (a throat rattle), panting (shortness of breath) and chest tightness. It's a disease process involving widespread narrowing of the small breathing tubes (bronchioles) in the lung. The narrowed tube creates a "turbulent" airflow and therefore creates a wheeze, or whistle, when an asthmatic breathes. Because the tubes in the lung are narrowed, less air can get in, and this decreases the oxygen supply to the body. A wide range of substances such as inhaled dust, pollen, or various foods, etc. can stimulate the muscular contraction of the bronchioles.
Asthma is becoming increasingly prevalent, especially in young people, as a result of air pollution and diet. Western medicine has little to offer in the way of a cure once they have become chronic, although it can often control them very effectively through the use of drugs. However, many people do not like the idea of having to take drugs for the rest of their lives, or carry an inhaler every place they need to go. Thus, they start to look for an alternative form of treatment, like acupuncture.
Acupuncture works with the body, strengthening and balancing energy. It improves circulation and allows the body to heal itself more quickly and more completely. More specifically with asthma, acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy causes the contracted muscular walls of the bronchioles to dilate, and also helps the immune system eliminate allergens. There is good research data to support this claim. An article in the American Medical Association Newspaper (3/6/95) from the Associated Press, reported that the FDA is weighing acupuncture's effectiveness in the treatment of asthma. Kim Jobst, M.D. of Oxford University wrote an article for the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that the use of acupuncture as an aid in respiratory ailments might be safer than prolonged use of drugs. The article reports that at the request of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Jobst collected all the research on chronic lung diseases treated by acupuncture. From 16 studies, he says that acupuncture showed signs of being effective in 62% of the cases. This means fewer attacks and fewer doses of the drugs. A study done by Zhang Qin also showed positive results from acupuncture in helping with asthma. From September 1980 to April 1987, he treated 36 children with Chinese herbal medicine. There were 21 boys and 15 girls. At the end of the study, 8 cases were cured, 17 cases experienced marked improvement, and 9 cases experienced good or fair improvement. Thus, the total effectiveness rate was 94.44%. So, acupuncture works well for asthma. It is able to decrease the frequency and intensity of asthmatic attacks, and in some cases, can even cure juvenile-onset asthma.
According to Chinese medicine the primary cause of the disease is retention of phlegm and fluid in the lungs. Due to seasonal pathogenic agents, early affection is often seen in children.
Persistent coughing causes asthma in adults. Asthma is also caused by the internal production and retention of phlegm and fluid in the lungs. This is brought about by intake of sugar, greasy foods, too much diary products by patients with lowered functioning of the spleen and stomach, as well as the affect of the pathogenic wind-cold associated with emotional disturbance and overstrain. Blockage of the Qi passage causes the lungs to fail to work normally and produces coughing, wheezing, and rattling.
The first acupuncture treatment will often relieve an acute exacerbation, but a course of 8 to 20 treatments should be given for lasting relief. It is not necessary that the patient have asthma symptoms at the time one receives the acupuncture treatments. Typically, the patient will feel better and need their inhaler less. Acupuncture can be a safe alternative for treating asthma with no side effects.