Can Qigong and Other Breathing Training Techniques Help Asthma Management?
February 27, 2011
There is considerable public interest in
the use of breathing modification techniques in the treatment of asthma. Surveys
suggest many people with asthma use them, often without the knowledge of their
medical attendants. Extravagant claims have been made about the effectiveness of
some techniques, resulting in scepticism from orthodox clinicians. The evidence
supporting breathing training for asthma was previously weak, and limited by the
small size and methodological limitations of published research.
In their latest study, researchers from
University of Southampton in Southampton, UK found that the evidence base for the effectiveness of breathing training has
recently improved, with reports from several larger and more methodologically
robust controlled trials. These trials are reviewed in this study, and the
findings placed in context. Trials have investigated a variety of breathing
training programs delivered by different therapists in different ways. All
incorporate some instruction in breathing pattern, usually focusing on slow,
regular, nasal, abdominal breathing and reduced ventilation, with patients
instructed to practice exercises at home and when symptomatic.
Current evidence suggests that breathing
training programs can be effective in improving patient-reported outcomes such
as symptoms, quality of life and psychological impact; and may reduce the use of
rescue bronchodilator medication. There is little evidence that airways
physiology, hyper-responsiveness or inflammation is affected by such training.
The optimal way of providing breathing training within the context of routine
asthma care is still uncertain.
This study is published in the
February 2011 issue of the journal
Current opinion in allergy and clinical immunology.