Acupuncture and Asthma

Ironically, the Chinese have no historical experience with early-onset allergic asthma. Even in modern times, the incidence of atopic asthma in China is almost non-existent. The closest equivalent is “breathlessness” or “wheezing”. The causes of these diseases were either invasion of some external pathogen, diet, emotions, or some combination of strenuous or excessive lifestyle. None of these can really be attributed to young children and explain the high incidence of child-hood allergic asthma. This again suggests that some aspect of the Western lifestyle is a major factor in the cause.

Modern Chinese medical theory suggests that atopic asthma is originally caused by the deficiency in Kidney and Lung Qi as well as a . Specifically, it is in the deficiency of the defensive aspects of Kidney and Lung Qi. Along with the classic filtering functions, the Kidneys are responsible for growth and development, sexual function, and overall vitality and health of the body. Kidney Qi is also largely influenced by the overall health of the parents, which explains the possible familial connection of atopic asthma. The Lungs are important not only in air-exchange, but also play a large role in the body’s resistance to external disease. The strength of the immune system is largely determined by the health of the Lungs. In combination, both the Lungs and Kidneys are vitally important in both the cause and the eventual treatment of atopic asthma. When as asthma attack occurs, we see this as an attack of internal “Wind”. In TCM, the term “internal Wind” suggests some kind of spasm or contraction; in this case referring to the broncho-spasms common in asthma attacks.

In treating asthma with acupuncture, our goal is to both strengthen the defensive aspects of the Lungs and Kidneys as well as dispelling internal Wind. While this may seem like a monumental task, it is actually very simple using acupuncture. Acupuncture has a very powerful “regulatory” effect on the body and has been found to lower excessive levels of IgE and eosinophils that are responsible for the hyper-activity of the immune system during an asthma attack. Acupuncture is also very effective in controlling spasms (Wind) in the body whether they be in the form of tics, tremors, or even spasms. As a result, acupuncture can both address both the inflammatory as well as the broncho-spasm aspects of asthma.

Regardless of the type of asthma, acupuncture has proven incredibly effective in lowering the symptoms of even completely eliminating asthma in our patients. We get repeated updates from patients telling us they don’t have to use their medication anymore; how they can leave their inhaler at home during their morning run, or that their son or daughter can now play with other kids without fearing an asthma attack. Why is this asthma solution not more common? With its overwhelming evidence and virtually zero side-effects, it is a wonder why more asthma clinics and physicians do not offer this option to their patients. As the population of asthma suffers continues to rise, we will continue to be flooded with TV commercials for the latest asthma drugs. Instead of resigning yourself to a collection of medications, turn towards your local acupuncturist. Both your body and your pocketbook will be much healthier (and happier).

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