Integrative medicine improves the physical and mental health of people with allergic asthma

Allergies (which are triggered by different allergens) and asthma (a chronic lung disease) are two different conditions, but there are people who suffer from something called allergic asthma. Allergic asthma is asthma triggered by an allergic reaction. According to a study, integrative medicine that involves acupuncture can help enhance the physical and mental health of individuals with allergic asthma.

The study was authored by Dr. Benno Brinkhaus together with coauthors from the Charité–Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Universität Freiburg in Germany, and the University of Zurich in Switzerland. The researchers conducted the study as part of a governmental assessment of the practice.

The study, titled “Acupuncture in Patients with Allergic Asthma: A Randomized Pragmatic Trial,” was published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM).

Can integrative medicine help people with allergic asthma?

For the study, researchers conducted a large randomized controlled trial. The results of the trial revealed that an integrative medicine approach to asthma treatment can help improve both quality of life and physical and mental health among individuals who were diagnosed with allergic asthma. (Related: How acupuncture benefits your respiratory system.)

The researchers examined 1,445 patients with allergic asthma who received acupuncture combined with routine care over a three- and six-month period. The volunteers were divided into several groups: 184 patients randomized to acupuncture and 173 to control, while the remaining 1,088 were in the nonrandomized acupuncture group.

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In the first three months of the trial, the volunteers had an average of 15 acupuncture sessions in their active arm. There were no acupuncture sessions from months three and six. To reflect real world conditions, 70 percent of the participants in the pragmatic trial only received five to 10 visits.

The successful results of the study were reported after three months of treatment and maintained through the six-month follow-up.

The study findings showed that patients with allergic asthma who were given additional acupuncture treatment to routine care experienced “increased disease-specific and health-related quality of life” compared to the participants who only received treatment with routine care.

What is allergic asthma?

Allergic asthma, which is asthma caused by an allergic reaction, is also called allergy-induced asthma. A person may have allergic asthma if they have trouble breathing during allergy season.

If you have allergic asthma, you may experience symptoms after you inhale an allergen like pollen. In most cases, allergic asthma can be treated. According to The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), over 50 percent of individuals with asthma have allergic asthma.

Allergies occur when a person’s immune system overreacts to allergens, which are harmless to people who don’t have the condition. However, if a person with allergies is exposed to these substances, they may have trouble breathing. This is called allergic asthma, which occurs when the airways swell due to an allergic reaction.

While inhaled allergens don’t usually cause allergic asthma, some allergens that can cause this condition include:

  • Air pollution
  • Chemical fumes
  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Pollen
  • Strong odors (e.g., perfumes and scented lotions)
  • Tobacco smoke

Below are less common allergens that may trigger an asthmatic reaction:

  • Cockroaches
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat

Take note that while these allergens are less common, they can still trigger a severe asthmatic reaction.

Both allergic asthma and regular asthma have the same symptoms, which include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

A person with allergic asthma who also has hay fever or skin allergies can experience the following symptoms:

  • Congestion
  • Flaky skin
  • Itchy eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • A rash
  • A runny nose
  • Watery eyes

Accidentally swallowing allergens may cause symptoms like anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction); hives; swelling in the mouth, throat, or lips; a swollen face or tongue; or a tingly mouth.

You can browse more articles about acupuncture and other natural remedies for asthma at

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