Q: My 31/2 year old soon has chronic coughing, doctors are note sure if its asthma yet. But he coughs all winter and vomits with it so he has lost a lot of weight. Antibiotics, steroids etc don't seem to help and so I'm looking for safe alternatives. would acupuncture help with this? he also has an IGA deficiency. Im desperate .
A: As you can see from our quite detailed review paper on bronchial asthma
Please click here
in amount of evidence that acupuncture can benefit someone suffering from asthma, although as the introduction says, there are insufficient trials to be able to make positive recommendations and equally a number of methodological problems about setting up meaningful tests of acupuncture if there is insistence on using randomised controlled trials which are more appropriate for drug testing.
However, the most important point to make in this context is that children are not simply little adults for the purposes of making a diagnosis in Chinese medicine, and there are some quite sophisticated ways in which the developing child's energy is understodd in Chinese medicine terms. This can sometimes offer treatment possibilities which may not be applicable to adults, and may be able to offer a little more hope than one might want to give in the case of an adult. A fundamental problem is that once people are dependent on medication for the treatment of asthma it is very difficult to make a case for stopping the medication, since in western medicine this is perceived as increasing the risk of a potentially fatal attack.
Chinese medicine has been dealing with the same problems as western medicine for over two thousand years, and there are a number of different protocols for the treatment of breathing problems which a skilled practitioner might employ. Even treatment at a constitutional level, in the simply belief that a system in balance rights itself, may offer possibilities.
We do not recognise specialisms because we have a commitment to generalism - all of our members are capable of using Chinese medicine effectively with any patient they see. However, over the last thirty years a significant number have focused their work on specific target groups such as women in pregnancy or children, and there are a number of postgraduate courses which we are currently examining in detail to assess whether our members can lay claim to expertise in their advertising. We cannot give recommendations for individual practitioners until and unless we agree these standards, but there are two or three well-known courses which maintain databases of practitioners who have met the appropriate standards, and we are fairly sure that if you google 'acupuncture' and 'treatment of children' you will see the main ones. You might also usefully add your location to see if anyone who has undertaken this training works near you.
Based on what you have said we believe that there may be some benefit which your son may derive from acupuncture treatment, but there is no substitute for a face to face assessment, and if you can find someone suitably trained near you they will almsot certainly be able to advise you on the best options for your son, whether this involves acupuncture treatment or other forms of complementary medicine such as cranial osteopathy which is also used for many children's health problems.