Augmentation of Conventional Medical Management of Moderately Severe or Severe Asthma with Acupuncture and Guided Imagery/Meditation

Augmentation of Conventional Medical Management of Moderately Severe or Severe Asthma with Acupuncture and Guided Imagery/Meditation


Lewis Mehl-Madrona, MD, PhD

Fall 2008 - Volume 12 Number 4


Objective: I sought to determine if a combination of acupuncture and guided imagery could augment the conventional medical management of moderately severe or severe asthma.

Design: This was an early-phase study with a convenience sample of self-selecting patients compared with self--year before, during treatment, and one year after treatment.

Setting: Patients were recruited from an outpatient practice.

Patients: All participants were adults with moderately severe or severe asthma (class 3 or 4).

Interventions: The study employed acupuncture and guided imagery/meditation for a 24-week period.

Main Outcome Measures: The main outcome measures were number of days of hospitalization, number of Emergency Department (ED) visits, number of physician visits, days per year taking steroids, puffs per week of inhaled B-agonists, FVC (forced vital capacity), FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in the first second), and FEF25-75 (forced expiratory flow between 25% and 75% of the FVC).

Results: With the addition of acupuncture and guided imagery to conventional medical management, members of the study group experienced improvement. The number of hospitalized days and the number of ED visits not leading to hospitalizations decreased, as did number of medical visits and total days taking oral corticosteroids. Parameters of respiratory function improved despite reduced use of inhaled B-agonists.

Conclusion: With acupuncture and guided imagery and meditation together, a self-selecting group of patients with moderately severe or severe asthma experienced improvement in respiratory function, taking less medication than before and having fewer emergencies and hospitalizations at a lower cost of care.

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