Asthma patients are often recommended yoga to alleviate the disease’s symptoms, in addition to improving physical and mental well-being. However, researchers from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) reveal the effectiveness of yoga in the treatment of asthma is very poor.
“Many people practice yoga for its health benefits, including asthma sufferers,” said Holger Cramer, PhD, lead author of the study. “We reviewed the available data to see if it made a difference and found only weak evidence that it does. Yoga can’t be considered a routine intervention for patients with asthma at this time. But it can be considered an alternative to breathing exercises for asthma patients interested in complementary interventions.”
That being said, researchers concluded that yoga can improve control, symptoms, quality of life, and lung function in patients with asthma. The study, published in the June issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of ACAAI, analyzed 14 former investigations and included 824 adults from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Only one trial contained data regarding the use of yoga as a treatment for children, hence it wasn’t possible to evaluate the effects on pediatric asthma sufferers.
“Many asthma sufferers look to complementary therapies, such as yoga, to help relieve their symptoms,” said allergist Michael Foggs, MD, and ACAAI president. “If yoga helps them to feel better and breathe better, patients should by all means practice it. At the same time, we don’t advise that yoga be recommended to asthma sufferers as a treatment.”
ACAAI recommends, on the other hand, prevention and coordination with a certified allergist to control asthma symptoms. Patients can determine potential risk situations that can trigger crises in order to help avoid them. Asthma can be activated by factors like exposure to allergens, respiratory infections, or cold weather.
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects about 12 million Americans and causes wheezing, breathing difficulties, chest tension and coughing. In severe or unpredictable cases, a preventive, daily, and long-term control medication is also recommended. In case of allergic asthma, immunotherapy may be an option to avoid the trigger factors.