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Acupuncture provides benefits to patients with asthma

Receiving acupuncture treatment along with routine care was associated with increased health-related and disease-specific quality of life compared with routine care alone in patients with allergic asthma, according to research recently published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

“Several studies in the last 2 decades that evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of asthma have been inconclusive. More research in this area has been encouraged,” Benno Brinkhaus, MD, professor of internal medicine and clinical epidemiology, Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charite´ Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany, and colleagues wrote. “Additionally, most trials compared acupuncture with sham acupuncture to further investigate the specific benefit.”

To gather more data, Brinkhaus and colleagues assessed 1,445 patients with allergic asthma who received acupuncture treatment or routine care alone. A total of 184 patients were assigned to receive 15 acupuncture sessions over 3 months and 173 patients were assigned to routine care. The remaining 1,088 patients did not consent to randomization and received acupuncture treatment for the first 3 months and were followed as a cohort. All trial patients were allowed to receive routine care in addition to study treatment.

The primary endpoint was the asthma quality of life questionnaire, with a score range of 1 to 7 at 3 months. Secondary endpoints included general health related to quality of life (Short-Form-36, with a score range of 0–100). Outcome parameters were evaluated at baseline and at 3 and 6 months. The mean age of the participants was 43.8 years, and 58.7% of the patients were women.

Brinkhaus and colleagues found that in the randomized groups, acupuncture was associated with an improvement in the asthma quality of life questionnaire score compared with the control group (difference acupuncture vs. control group 0.7; 95% CI, 0.5-1) as well as in the physical component scale (2.5; 95% CI, 1-4) and the mental component scale (4; 95% CI, 2.1-6) of the Short-Form-36 after 3 months. In addition, treatment success was maintained throughout 6 months, and patients who did not consent to randomization showed similar improvements as the randomized acupuncture group. In general, regression analyses identified being a woman as the only variable that predicted treatment outcome.

“To our knowledge, the present study is the largest randomized trial of acupuncture in allergic asthma to date ... [and] the results of this trial are clinically relevant and have great importance for decision makers in the health care system,” Brinkhaus and colleagues wrote. “However, these results should be interpreted with caution for two reasons: first,indicators in the present study might not adequately reflect the quality of a physician’s treatment and, second, acupuncture may be also administered by nonphysician practitioners.

”Research has shown other benefits to acupuncture; most recently, migraines, fibromyalgia and short-term relief from irritable bowel syndrome. The therapy was also cited by the NIH as effective for pain management. – by Janel MillerDisclosure:

The researchers reported no relevant financial disclosures.

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