Conditions & Treatment

Asthma Sufferers: Try Acupuncture for a Breath of Relief

Kristen Sparrow • September 09, 2020

The effects can be long-lasting.

Do you suffer from asthma? You might want to give my treatments a try. I use a number of time-honored points and then some culled from the various studies that have been completed over the years to get maximum results. And the results can be quite impressive, as you see in the case below.

The Science

Recent guidelines from the Taskforce on Allergies from the Society for Ear, Nose and Throat specialists recommend acupuncture for patients who desire or require natural treatment for allergies. One of my patients says,

I was having to use my inhaler 10 times a day.  I suffer from allergies of all types, eczema, congestion and asthma.  I was hesitant to try acupuncture since I didn’t know anyone who had tried it.  I went to Dr. Sparrow since she was a doctor also.  Believe it or not after even one visit, my lungs felt much better.  I have been going now for about 6 weeks and have not had to use my inhaler and have been able to play soccer.  My eczema is still a problem, but I understand that can take longer.”*

*results, as with all aspects of medicine, vary from patient to patient

Here is the link to a blog entry I posted about this particular patient.

Relaxing the body and mind makes you stronger

There have been some studies that suggest some physiological reasons why acupuncture might help in cases of asthma. The first study (2) looked at pulmonary function in two groups. Both of the groups were receiving anti-asthma medications. There was a significant improvement in the acupuncture group versus the control group after acupuncture treatment. Interestingly, in this study they also looked at Heart rate variability, the focus of my own research (3). They confirmed my findings that acupuncture increased the “vegetative” or restorative (parasympathetic) arm of the autonomic nervous system. They conclude that the improvement in lung function may, indeed, be from this effect. There is some evidence from animal studies that it may decrease lung inflammation also.

Asthma has become more common

Asthma is on the rise. There are many reasons for that. Pollution of various types has risen. There is evidence that acetaminophen at an early age can lead to asthma, and the use of hand sanitizers may be a culprit too.

I’ve cited some studies below which outline some of the ways that acupuncture helps asthma.

There are some acupuncture points that actually help the lung function and the airways to relax. Some of the acupuncture points can actually boost immune function, which is key to long term results

More Evidence for Acupuncture and Asthma

Acupuncture has an anti-inflammatory effect

The second article (4) postulates that the mechanism for acupuncture effectiveness in asthma is due to the fact that there are neurotrophic factors in the dorsal root ganglia situated at C5-T5 vertebral levels. Traditionally, many of the points used for asthma are near these intervertebral levels, so it is conceivable that the mechanism for bronchodilation is through the neurotrophic factors (Substance P has been shown to cause a series of reactions such as contraction of the airway smooth muscle, secretion of mucous, seepage of capillary vessels, and release of mediators of inflammation, and aggravation of airway hyperreactivity.). Neurotrophic factors could modulate substance P release.

What you need to know about Dr Sparrow before making an appointment

  • Dr. Sparrow has been practicing acupuncture for 15 years and is Board Certified in Anesthesiology and Pediatrics.
  • She has studied acupuncture and the stress response for years.
  • She published a study on the stress response and its correlation with effective treatment in the Journal of Medical Acupuncture.
  • She has a keen interest in her patients, prevention, health matters and the research behind acupuncture’s effectiveness. You can follow her blog here.
  • Please call 415-775-0117 to set an appointment.

1. *J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 May;117(5):1054-62.); ARIA update: I–Systematic review of complementary and alternative medicine for rhinitis and asthma

2. Effects of acupuncture for dispersing fei, invigorating pi and reinforcing shen on heart rate variability and pulmonary function in bronchial asthma patients. ‘Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi.’);> 2006   Sep;26(9):799-802 China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing.

3. Analysis of Heart Rate Variability in Acupuncture Practice: Can it improve outcomes?

4. Dorsal root ganglion: the target of acupuncture in the treatment of asthma .Feng JT Adv Ther. 2007May-Jun;24(3):598-602