I have been diagnosed with asthma at a very young age but it was in my twenties when I began to experience frightening and severe attacks. Because of this, I can understand any asthma sufferer who desires to find an answer to his/her health condition that preferably does not entail the use of any drugs or chemicals.
Based on several studies and from personal experience, acupuncture has what it takes to help a person suffering from a certain condition. That being said, your acupuncture treatment should always be performed by a qualified and licensed practitioner, who preferably, has extensive experience treating conditions similar to yours.
The Problem with Studies
The problem with studies is that they are performed in a different manner than what acupuncturists normally use in their everyday practice. Usually, in a controlled clinical study, two types of acupuncture techniques are used which further leads to convoluted results.
What’s more, studies done on acupuncture including the ones for asthma therapy are small scale which often result in insufficient data conclusions that cannot be considered as valid and conclusive proofs of acupuncture’s efficacy and, therefore, not worthy of use by the general population.
Although clinical trials will often use a combination of acupuncture points that are commonly used for the treatment of asthma, these points are used in all the subjects in the study. The problem with this is that each treatment is unique for each individual because of a person’s unique constitution and manifested symptoms. The points used in studies lead to inconsistent results where certain individuals may respond favorably to the treatment while others may not. The points selected for needling are usually based on the type of deficiency and excess imbalance in the person.
Moreover, acupuncturists may also treat certain points located at the front and back of the ribcage to improve asthmatic breathing; in clinical studies and reviews, these points are rarely mentioned or considered.
Much as adherents of acupuncture and acupuncturists themselves want to back up the ability of the treatment to treat diseases, there is not much encouraging evidence to prove so. Thus, the results of these studies are very misleading and hide the true potency of acupuncture in the treatment of asthma and other conditions.
How then can one make an informed decision on whether acupuncture can truly help with asthma? People often rely on anecdotal evidence of acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating asthma, and happily, there are many these evidences for this. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine sees asthma and other forms of health conditions as a sign of an underlying disharmony. When a patient seeks treatment from a qualified and experienced acupuncturist who has the ability to diagnose and determine the underlying reason for the disharmony, it often leads to a long-term treatment of the disease.
Acupuncturists will often say to their asthma patients to not totally abandon their current medications during and after treatment. Having a sudden severe asthma attack is dangerous if you are not without an inhaler during the attack. The weaning out process should be gradual and the patient needs to have that choice of doing what is comfortable and safe for him/her.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Asthma
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), asthma can develop from disorders associated with the functioning of the kidney, abdomen, and lungs. Hence, a lot of the potential acupuncture points necessary for treatment can be situated along the meridians connected to these organs plus also the meridian corresponding to the bladder.
There are a few meridian bladder points located on the upper part of the back that can be helpful for the resolution of asthma. These points are important more so if the organ dysfunctions are complicated by an obstruction in the flow of energy (chi) in the back. This type of complication can make the asthmatic breathing more severe.
When referring to the organs of the body, TCM sees each of organs more as a system than merely an anatomical part of the body performing a specific function. These organs are viewed as systems that embody specific energetic, emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects.
Based on traditional Chinese medicine’s Five Element Theory, the different organ systems interact with each other and are important in the diagnosis of the different patterns of disharmony in TCM. These five elements are water, metal, earth, fire, and wood.
The large intestine system is considered a yang organ and relates to the color white and autumn season. The lung system, a yin organ, corresponds to the element of metal. The lung system is responsible for waste removal from the body, skin issues, and respiration. An imbalance in both the large intestine and lung systems can result in feelings of grief or sadness, bowel problems, coughing, skin conditions, shortness of breath, and asthma.