Yoga as a treatment for asthma

Prof. Ernst and a colleague reviewed the evidence.

First, the details.

  • 7 studies were reviewed.
  • The quality of the research was mostly poor.

And, the results.

  • 4 studies suggested that yoga leads to significant improvement in several measures of asthma severity.
    • Spirometry (measure of the volume of air entering and leaving the lungs)
    • Airway hyper-responsiveness
    • Dose of histamine needed to provoke a 20% reduction in forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1)
    • Weekly number of asthma attacks
    • Need for drug treatment
  • 3 studies showed no positive effects compared to various controls.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “The belief that yoga alleviates asthma is not supported by sound evidence.”

“Further, more rigorous trials are warranted.”

On the other hand, others have reported, “Adding the mind body approach of yoga to the predominantly physical approach of conventional care results in measurable improvement in subjective as well as objective outcomes in bronchial asthma.”

Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco report that non-oral remedies, such as yoga (as well as acupuncture, massage, aromatherapy, and chiropractic therapy) are used by 20% of patients with asthma, most of whom also used oral complementary and alternative medicines.

6/12/11 20:31 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.