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Yoga Barely Helps Asthma Sufferers

Update Date: Jun 03, 2014 08:14 AM EDT

Yoga is widely considered to be a method for improving physical and mental well-being. It is also often suggested to asthma sufferers to help alleviate symptoms. However, a new study has found little evidence that it will be helpful to asthma patients. 

Researchers examined 14 previously published studies before determining the effectiveness of yoga in the treatment of asthma. 

"Many people practice yoga for its health benefits, including asthma sufferers," said Holger Cramer, PhD, lead author of the study in the press release. "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. But it can be considered an alternative to breathing exercises for asthma patients interested in complementary interventions."

Researchers considered more than 800 adults who were part of the 14 studies examined for the evidence that yoga improves control, symptoms, quality of life and lung function in patients with asthma, the press release added. The subjects were from number of countries including North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. 

The study included only one children so the effects of yoga on children cannot be determined from this study. 

"Many asthma sufferers look to complementary therapies, such as yoga, to help relieve their symptoms," said allergist Michael Foggs, MD, ACAAI president, in the press release. "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."

ACAAI suggests that prevention is always the best strategy in controlling asthma symptoms. 

For people with allergic asthma, immunotherapy (allergy shots) may offer relief from symptoms prompted by allergens that act as triggers and cannot be avoided, the press release added.

The study has been published in the June issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

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