Ask The Expert – Acupuncture For Childhood Asthma?

It is with great excitement that I introduce our expert for this Ask The Expert series – Robin Green, L.Ac. (that’s Licensed Acupuncturist). She has also earned a Masters degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine (MTCM)! Robin is well-trained and experienced in the healing arts, and she is passionate about working to optimize the health of children.

Robin has been practicing for over 15 years (looking at her photo, she must have started when she was 10!), and she is the Owner of Morgan Hill Family Wellness in Morgan Hill, California – near San Jose and Gilroy.

Robin is familiar with the latest evidence-based support for the clinical uses of acupuncture, and is one of those who regularly treats children – yes, children – with acupuncture!

Robin Green, L. AC

Robin Green, L.Ac., MTCM

This is Part 1 of 2 parts:

Breathe Easier with Acupuncture

By Robin Green, MTCM, L.Ac.

Precious Breath

The rhythmic unconscious flow of breath is something most of us take for granted. Those who suffer from asthma know how precious breathing is and how easily it can be disrupted.

Asthma is one of the most common causes of chronic childhood illness accounting for numerous hospital visits and missed days of school. Briefly, here are some asthma facts: There are 20 Million Americans diagnosed with asthma right now; 9 Million of those are children. Children miss more than 12 Million days of school per year due to asthma.

Eleven people die from asthma every day in the U.S.

Many people can manage their asthma adequately on medications, but what do you do if medicine is not enough?

Complementary and Alternative Remedies

What if the medications aren’t tolerated well?

Then it’s time to look for answers in the world of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), particularly acupuncture.

Due to acupuncture’s modulating effect on the immune system and its ability to help the body heal it can be used to treat a wide variety of health complaints in adults, children, babies and even newborns.

According to the 2007 National Health Statistics Report, head and chest colds are one of the most common reasons for using CAM. Acupuncture can be used to treat a wider array of upper respiratory conditions including asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infections and allergies.

When medicine is not enough, many asthma sufferers turn to acupuncture because it’s effective. If you have asthma, chances are it can work for you too.

What Does Acupuncture Do?

Simply put, acupuncture stimulates the body’s innate ability to heal itself. In the case of asthma, acupuncture helps reduce inflammation, and preliminary studies suggest that acupuncture reduces the bronchospasm response causing airway constriction — two components that cause asthma.

Considering disorders beyond asthma, the symptoms associated with most of the respiratory disorders in children – otitis (ear infections), tonsillitis, adenoiditis, rhinitis, sinusitis, esophagitis (from reflux, or GERD), laryngitis, lymphadenitis (inflammation of lymph nodes) – result from inflammation.

Clearly, inflammation is one of the fundamental ways that these disorders of the Unified Airway are connected, so acupuncture may be helpful for these other disorders also.

Whereas we need more, larger randomized clinical trials to define the mechanisms, and to tell us how we can use acupuncture optimally to help these children, acupuncture has clearly been shown to reduce inflammation.

In sum, acupuncture can help reduce symptoms while working to reduce the frequency and severity of asthma overall. Because it can help reduce inflammation, acupuncture will undoubtedly find a place in the treatment regimen for these other respiratory disorders as we learn more about it through clinical trials.

Come back for Part 2 of this article: What to expect during your acupuncture session, and: Will my child really tolerate NEEDLES???

Resources:

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Have YOU ever used acupuncture?

For asthma?

For your child(ren)?

If so, please leave a comment and tell us about your experience!

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Image Credits:  Robin Green, L.Ac.

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Comments

  1. interesting. thanks for sharing.

    can acupuncture be used in lieu of Rx meds? my sons asthma is well controlled on nasonex, qvar, xopenex. is it possible to replace Rx treatment with acupuncture or is acupuncture only indicated for patients who are not well controlled on rx meds?

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Jenna,
      According to Robin Green, L.Ac., some children may achieve enough reduced inflammation from acupuncture that they can eliminate, or at least reduce, their medications. If you son’s
      asthma is controlled, you might consider adding acupuncture to that regimen, and ask your Pediatrician / Pulmonologist about reducing medications over time if he remains well controlled.

      The real answer is that we just don’t know yet – large randomized clinical trials have not been done to give us the answers.

      For me personally, and for my patients, I am always looking for ways to reduce or eliminate use of surgery and medications.

      Thanks again for connecting, and for taking the time to leave a question. Perhaps a member of our boogorhead community will have some experience to help answer your question.

      RF (boogs)

  2. Do you know if this study also applies to adults?
    Recnetly, the past 2 years my husband has had asthma issues when exposed to smoke. Either forest fires, or errant cigarette smoke while in public places. Some of these attacks are severe, he has been using Qvar successfully, but would prefer to not have to use it. He is 58 and this is the first time he has had any of these issues.

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Carol,
      Sorry for delayed reply: the studies done in adult asthmatics do report an improvement in quality of life resulting from use of acupuncture (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20701479). However, they did not find much change in the objective measures used to monitor asthma – things like FEV1. Be sure to search “acupuncture and adult asthma” on PubMed.
      Thanks for visiting!

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