Is the presently frantic adoption of ATs by our patients all bad news,
or do some of these treatments convey real benefits to our patients? We
recently conducted a series of in-depth systematic reviews of the
clinical trial evidence for or against ATs in relation to asthma (and
numerous other conditions).5 In relation to asthma, we
found clearly negative (proof of ineffectiveness) evidence for
chiropractic spinal manipulation, discouraging evidence for
acupuncture, and unequivocal evidence for yoga, relaxation therapies,
homeopathy, and autogenic training. But there were also encouraging
trial results, namely for biofeedback, breathing exercises, Chinese
herbal medicine, hypnotherapy, massage therapy, and meditation.
Unfortunately for many of these treatments, the level, volume, and
quality of the evidence were not sufficient to be compelling. Moreover,
it seems important to point out that the ATs classified as encouraging
were not usually curative but were aimed at alleviating symptoms and at
improving quality of life.