Bronchial asthma is a chronic disease of respiratory tract. Inflammation plays an important role in its aetiology. Asthma is one of the most widespread diseases in the world. About 100 – 150 million people suffers from asthma. In Europe about 4,5% of adults and more than 10 % of children have this disease.
Modern medicine offers treatments based on agonists of β-adrenergic receptors, leading to the dilatation of muscles in the bronchi and anti-inflammatory drugs, mostly steroids. In this situation many patients look for other therapies, including acupuncture.
In 2009 scientists working fro Cochrane Collaboration Group published their report summarizing data from twelve randomised clinical trials focused on the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of asthma. Due to heterogeneity of those trials the Authors didn’t drew firm conclusions. However they point to some important facts:
two of those trials (from 1984 and 2000) report significant reduction in usage of drugs in the acupuncture group
some trials show als improvement in subjective parameters
different forms of control were used in different trials. Puncturing skin in other areas than acupuncture points results in some level of therapeutic effects snd shouldn’t be used as control
the Authors discussed also differences between interventions forced by scientific research and real acupuncture performed by educated acupuncturists according to laws of Chinese Medicine. Due to those methodological difficulties the Authors propose not to focus on “standardized” model of therapy, but rather on finding ways to describe complex influence of acupuncture on functioning of body in patients suffering form asthma.
From 2009 other groups of scholars have been presenting the results of their experiments and reviews of literature. In 2001 Korean Authors presented their review and metaanalysis of effectiveness of pharmacopuncture in the treatment of asthma. Pharmacopuncture is a method of applying small dosages of herbal formulations into the acupuncture points. The quality of included trials was not high, but this time the Authors showed statistically significant difference between pharmacopuncture and standard treatment. Two of included trials show additionally beneficial influence of acupuncture on Peak Expiratory Flow – proving the reduction of the obstruction in the airways.
In 2013 an article was published, showing the results of Danish trial researching the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of asthma in a group of pre-school children. During the trial children treated with acupuncture felt improvement measured by subjective scales, and were using drugs less frequently. This beneficial effect didn’t last long after the termination of treatment.
It is believed, that the usage of coherent laser light instead of needles is better tolerated by children, so lasers are often used in this group of patients. In 2012 the review of data from trials on photopuncture was published. Due to small amount of well designed trials the Authors didn’t perform the metaanalysis. They decided to analyse only some of thirteen trials giving inconsistent results. The Authors concluded that more rigorous trials are needed.
Following those conclusions, the next trial was performed in Europe, researching the influence of laser acupuncture on state and objective measurements in children with bronchial asthma. In a group of 50 children 10 sessions of laser stimulation of acupuncture points were performed. It resulted in great reduction of symptoms (from 36 children suffering daytime and nocturnal symptoms to 2 patients reporting nocturnal symptoms), and improvement in objective measurements of spirometry:
Forced Expiratory Volume in the first second 81,8 – 98,5
Forced Vital Capacity 85,4 – 104,3
Peak Expiratory Flow 71,8 – 84,3
Asthma Controll Questionaire 13,9 – 23,3
The daily steroids dosage was reduced from 200-450 μg to 0-200 μg. The patients also stopped using B2 receptor agonists.
The part of article explaining the molecular basis for anti-inflammatory action of acupuncture in bronchial tree is available only in Polish. Expected date of English translation: 04 June 2014
Meanwhile have a look at the original article describing this topic:
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