Study objectives: Acupuncture traditionally has been used to treat asthma. Nevertheless, only a few controlled studies have been performed to determine the efficacy of this treatment. Our study aimed to determine the efficacy of acupuncture in patients with moderate persistent asthma.
Methods: Twenty-three patients with moderate persistent asthma who had been treated only with inhaled β2-agonists were randomly assigned to receive four sessions of real acupuncture (RA) or sham acupuncture (SA) in a blinded manner. After a washout period of 3 weeks, the patients were crossed over. Monitoring included FEV1, methacholine challenge, daily peak flow (PF) variability, and the keeping of an asthma diary.
Results: Twenty of 23 patients completed the study. There was no significant change in FEV1 following treatment. The mean (± SE) FEV1 values before and after the RA were 73 ± 4% and 73 ± 3%, respectively (not significant [NS]). FEV1 values before and after SA were 70 ± 3% and 70 ± 3%, respectively (NS). There was also no change in provocative methacholine concentration causing a 20% fall in FEV1 (PC20) before and after treatment. The mean PC20 values before and after RA were 0.92 ± 0.42 mg/mL and 1.16 ± 0.51 mg/mL, respectively (p = 0.71), while the PC20 values before and after SA were 1.47 ± 0.83 mg/mL and 1.11 ± 0.79 mg/mL, respectively (p = 0.59). There was no change in the mean PF variability before and after the RA (1.6 ± 3.1% and 1.8 ± 2.3%, respectively [NS]). The PF variability before and after SA were 3.6 ± 2.8% and 2.8 ± 3.4%, respectively (NS). No significant difference was demonstrated for symptom scores or for the use of β2-agonist inhalers (RA, 6.7 ± 3.4; SA, 8.1 ± 3.6; p = 0.58).
Conclusion: In patients with moderate persistent asthma, a short course of acupuncture treatment resulted in no change in lung functions, bronchial hyperreactivity, or patient symptoms.