Acupuncture in the treatment of asthma: A critical review

P. A. Davis, C. Chang, R. M. Hackman, J. S. Stern, M. Eric Gershwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Increasingly, patients are turning to treatments and drugs that are considered "alternative" or "complementary" as part of their Healthcare. In response, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) established an Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) in 1992 to facilitate identification and evaluation of alternative and complementary therapies. Acupuncture, a therapy that has been used to treat disease in China for approximately 2,500 years, has attracted considerable attention. NIH in a consensus statement derived from a Fall of 1997 consensus conference to assess acupuncture has indicated that acupuncture was useful in pain control and maybe a useful adjunct treatment for the management of asthma. Further, the US Food and Drug Administration has removed acupuncture from the "experimental medical devices" category. Methods: We have extensively searched the literature for reports addressing the use of acupuncture in asthma treatment. We sought these using the National Library of Medicine, the Office of Alternative Medicine's database as well as other databases both English language based as well as other languages that catalog literature pertaining to alternative and complementary therapies. We then reviewed these reports and weighed the validity of the conclusions reached in the reports based on assessment of study design, number of subjetcs studied, duration of studies, types and number of controls, and statistical analyses used. Results: Data presently in the literature do not provide sufficient support for a useful role for acupuncture in asthma management. Conclusions: Further properly designed clinical studies examining the use of acupuncture in asthma are extremely important and urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-271
Number of pages9
JournalAllergologia et Immunopathologia
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1998


  • Acupuncture
  • Alternative medicine
  • Asthma
  • Clinical trials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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