Acupuncture for chronic asthma

Evidence Summaries

Level of Evidence = D
Acupuncture might possibly not be effective in the treatment of chronic asthma but there is not enough evidence for strong conclusions.

A Cochrane review 1 included 12 studies with a total of 350 subjects. Trial reporting was poor and trial quality was deemed inadequate to generalise findings. There was variation in the type of active and sham acupunctures, the outcomes measured and time-points presented. No statistically significant or clinically relevant effects were found for acupuncture compared to sham acupuncture. Data from two small studies were pooled for lung function (post-treatment FEV1): Standardised Mean Difference 0.12, 95% CI –0.31 to 0.55).

Comment: The quality of evidence is downgraded by study quality (e.g. inadequate or unclear allocation concealment, inadequate intention-to-treat adherence), by imprecise results (limited study size for each comparison) and by inconsistency (heterogeneity in interventions and outcomes).


1. McCarney RW, Brinkhaus B, Lasserson TJ, Linde K. Acupuncture for chronic asthma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003;(3):CD000008. Last assessed as up-to-date: 6 August 2008.  [PMID:14973944]

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