Yoga: No Harm, No Treatment for Asthma Patients

Yoga may work as breathing exercise but did not offer same relief as clinical treatments

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Asthma patients are eager to find relief, even if it means exploring options beyond mainstream clinical practices. Yoga is one alternative that asthma patients often turn to.

Asthma is a lasting lung condition that inflames and narrows airways, which causes shortness of breath and trouble breathing. Yoga is a meditation practice that combines posture and breathing techniques.

While yoga is sometimes recommended for asthma relief, new research found no data to support it as a beneficial treatment for asthma.

"Ask your doctor if yoga and other complementary therapies are safe for you."

Holger Cramer, PhD, of the Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, led this research team.

Dr. Cramer and colleagues analyzed 14 previous studies that included measures of asthma control, symptoms, quality of life and lung function in yoga practitioners with asthma.

Study participants, including some children, came from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Dr. Cramer and team found that yoga was not associated with any negative health effects, but the group of 824 participants reported no evidence suggesting yoga was a good treatment for asthma.

These researchers did find that yoga was a suitable alternative to breathing exercises for asthma patients.

"Many people practice yoga for its health benefits, including asthma sufferers," Dr. Cramer said in a prepared statement. "We reviewed the available data to see if it made a difference and found only weak evidence that it does. Yoga can't be considered a routine intervention for patients with asthma at this time."

In the same prepared statement, Michael Foggs, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), said this study's findings indicate that yoga is not a recommended asthma treatment.

"Many asthma sufferers look to complementary therapies, such as yoga, to help relieve their symptoms," Dr. Foggs said. "If yoga helps them to feel better and breathe better, patients should by all means practice it. At the same time, we don't advise that yoga be recommended to asthma sufferers as a treatment."

The ACAAI is a professional organization with more than 6,000 member healthcare workers and specialized physicians.

This study was published in the June issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

The authors did not disclose any financial conflicts of interest.

Grant funding was provided by the Rut- and Klaus-Bahslen Foundation.

Review Date: 
June 5, 2014
Last Updated:
June 5, 2014