Allergic asthma is a type of asthma that’s triggered by exposure to certain allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander. It accounts for about 60 percent of all asthma cases in the United States.
Most cases of allergic asthma can be managed with daily prescription medications and rescue inhalers. But many people are interested in complementary therapies, too.
Complementary therapies are alternative approaches and remedies outside of standard prescription medications and treatments. Asthma can be a life-threatening condition, so it should never be managed with complementary therapies alone. If you’re interested in trying a complementary therapy, make sure you talk to your doctor first.
Complementary therapies for asthma may include breathing exercises, acupuncture, herbs, and other supplements. Read on to learn more about whether these therapies offer any benefits for people living with allergic asthma.
The reports that there isn’t enough evidence to support the use of complementary therapies for asthma.
In other words, based on the research so far, there’s little or no evidence that they work. This is the case for all of the most common complementary therapies, including acupuncture, breathing exercises, herbs, and dietary supplements.
However, the Mayo Clinic suggests that more studies are needed before researchers can say for sure that complementary therapies don’t provide a benefit. They also note that some people have reported feeling better after using certain options, such as breathing exercises.
Some people want to try complementary approaches because they think prescription treatments aren’t safe. In fact, standard prescription medications for asthma have been tested for safety. They’re also very effective at treating asthma symptoms.
On the other hand, some complementary therapies aren’t safe and aren’t proven to improve symptoms. More research into both safety and efficacy is needed.
Remember, if you’re interested in trying a complementary approach, talk to your doctor first. Some complementary therapies have risks. They may also interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Certain breathing techniques have been used to try to improve asthma symptoms, help regulate breathing, and reduce stress. For example, breathing retraining, Papworth Method, and Buteyko Technique are commonly tried approaches.
Each method involves specific breathing practices. The goal is to improve breath control, promote relaxation, and reduce asthma symptoms.
The National Institutes of Health notes a trend in recent that suggests breathing exercises might improve asthma symptoms. But there still isn’t enough evidence to know for sure.
The Mayo Clinic points out that breathing exercises are easy and might boost relaxation. But, for people with allergic asthma, breathing exercises won’t stop the allergic reaction that leads to symptoms. That means using these therapies during an asthma attack won’t stop the attack or reduce its severity.
Acupuncture is a complementary therapy. During treatment, a trained acupuncturist places very thin needles in specific places on your body. There’s little evidence that it improves asthma symptoms, but you may find it relaxing.
A small in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that acupuncture may help improve the overall health and quality of life in people with allergic asthma. More research is needed to establish any clear benefits.
Some researchers have hypothesized that vitamins C, D, and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, may improve lung health and reduce allergic asthma symptoms. However, research so far hasn’t shown any benefit for taking these supplements.
Some asthma medications have components that are related to ingredients found in herbal supplements. But medications are tested for safety and effectiveness. Herbal remedies, on the other hand, show little evidence of benefit.
One supplement that people with allergic asthma need to avoid is royal jelly. It’s a substance secreted by bees and a popular dietary supplement. Royal jelly has been linked to severe asthma attacks, trouble breathing, and even anaphylactic shock.
Medication can help you manage allergic asthma on a day-to-day basis. Another important aspect of your treatment plan is trigger avoidance. Taking steps to avoid the allergens that trigger your asthma reduces your risk of an asthma attack.
You can track your symptoms and triggers over time to look for patterns. It’s also important to see an allergist to ensure that you identify your triggers.
Some of the most common allergic asthma triggers include:
- dust mites
- pet dander
- tobacco smoke
Consider using a journal to track any known or suspected triggers, along with your symptoms. Be sure to include information about your environments and activities. You may want to make notes on the weather, air quality, pollen reports, encounters with animals, and foods you consumed.
There’s little to no scientific evidence to support the use of most complementary therapies for asthma. Some people report finding techniques like breathing exercises helpful. If you find a complementary therapy relaxing, it might improve your quality of life, even if it doesn’t treat your asthma symptoms.
It’s vital to speak to your doctor or allergist before trying any new therapy, including complementary ones. Some alternative therapies are risky or may interact with medications you take.
Complementary therapies should never replace your conventional treatment plan. The best and safest way to manage allergic asthma is sticking to your treatment plan and avoiding any allergens that trigger your symptoms.