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Acupuncture and Asthma

Research appearing in the journal Allergologie (1997;20(2):63-68) looked at the effect acupuncture treatment had on subjects with allergic asthma. The subjects were 38 patients with a mild case of allergic asthma. They were randomly divided into two groups. The control group received acupuncture on points that did not treat asthma. The other group was treated with acupuncture. Both groups were treated over a period of four weeks and received a total of 12 treatments. The treatment group had a decrease in eosinophils (white blood cells that are produced in the presence of allergies). They also had CD3+, CD4+ and interleukin 6, 8, and 10 increase (immune markers). Improvement of symptoms occurred in nearly 80% of the treatment group.

Acupuncture may be useful for asthma patients. Another very small study published in the Journal of the Chinese Medical Association (2005; 68(12): 591-4) looked at three subjects with asthma and the effect acupuncture had on opening the airways. The subjects were given pulmonary function tests before and after acupuncture treatment. There was a 20% improvement in forced expiratory volume after treatment. Symptoms also improved in the three subjects. After four hours the forced expiratory volume in two of the three subjects returned to the level before treatment. While this study is too small to draw any long-term conclusions, it does show that it would be worthwhile to design larger studies.