Asthma is described as an inflammatory disease characterised by airway hyper-responsiveness and episodic periods of bronchospasm. There are two types of asthma: extrinsic (immunologic) and intrinsic (autonomic).
Between 100 and 150 million people around the globe, roughly the equivalent of the population of the Russian Federation, suffer from asthma and this number is rising.
There are a number of causes of asthma within Chinese medicine, which can either affect the lungs or weaken the digestive system lead to the formation of phlegm, which blocks the airways:
- Sudden changes in weather
- Inhalation of pollens, smoke dust and other irritations
- Improper diet: excessive intake of greasy food, dairy, sweets, sea food, red meat, nuts, etc
- Emotions: sudden, drastic changes in emotional states
- Stress and overwork
- Frequent and repetitive cases of cold or flu
- Excessive intake of cold and raw food
- Long-term illnesses.
Acupuncture for asthma
Acupuncture can help to tackle the various causes of asthma, for example stress and emotional upset, a weak digestive system that leads to the formation of phlegm and the regulation of the immune system.
From a biomedicine viewpoint, research has shown that acupuncture is able to:
- Regulate the mucosal and cellular immunity (Yang 2013, Carneiro 2010, Joos 2000)
- Reduce bronchial immune-mediated inflammation, particularly through the balance between T helper 1 and 2 cells and their associated cytokines (Carneiro 2010; Carneiro 2005, Jeong 2002)
- Reduce inflammation by promoting the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003)
- Regulate the expression of surfactant proteins, that help to reduce airways resistance biophysically and also modulate the immune response (Yan 2010)
- Inhibit structural changes in the airways, thereby reducing airway resistance (Wang 2012)
- Regulate the expression of genes and proteins that control the airways inflammatory response (Mo 2012, Xu 2012, Yin 2009)
- Act on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry (Hui 2010).
Yang YQ et al. Considerations for use of acupuncture as supplemental therapy for patients with allergic asthma. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2013 Jun;44(3):254-61
Mo L et al. Effects of acupoint injection of autoblood on expression of pulmonary transcription factor GATA 3 and T-bet proteins and genes in asthma rats. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2012 Oct;37(5):357-62.
Carneiro ER et al. Electroacupuncture promotes a decrease in inflammatory response associated with Th1/Th2 cytokines, nitric oxide and leukotriene B4 modulation in experimental asthma. Cytokine. 2010 Jun;50(3):335-40.
Joos S et al. Immunomodulatory effects of acupuncture in the treatment of allergic asthma: a randomized controlled study. J Altern Compliment Med 2000; 6(6): 519-25.
Zijlstra FJ et al. Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture. Mediators Inflamm 2003; 12(2):59-69.
Carneiro ER et al. Effect of electroacupuncture on bronchial asthma induced by ovalbumin in rats. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2005; 11(1): 127-34.
Kavoussi B, Ross BE. The neuroimmune basis of anti-inflammatory acupuncture. Integr Cancer Ther 2007; 6: 251-7.
Yin LM et al. Use of serial analysis of gene expression to reveal the specific regulation of gene expression profile in asthmatic rats treated by acupuncture. Journal of Biomedical Science 2009; 16(1): 46.
Hui KK et al. Acupuncture, the limbic Studies have shown that acupuncture stimulation, when system, and the anticorrelated networks of the brain. Auton Neurosci. 2010; 157(1-2): 81-90.
Wang Y et al. Influence of acupuncture on expression of T-type calcium channel protein in airway smooth. A randomised controlled animal study that looked at the antiremodelling effect of acupuncture on asthma and the role of Ttype calcium channel protein in airway smooth muscle cell in muscle cell in airway remodeling rats with asthma]. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2012 Jun;32(6):534-40.
Xu YD et al. Proteomic analysis reveals the deregulation of inflammation-related proteins in acupuncture-treated rats with asthma onset. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:850512.
Jeong HJ et al. Regulatory effect of cytokine production in asthma patients by SOOJI CHIM (Koryo Hand Acupuncture Therapy). Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology 2002; 24(2): 265-4.