An integrative approach to asthma

Author: Hassed C
Department of General Practice, Monash University, Victoria, Australia.
Conference/Journal: Aust Fam Physician
Date published: 2005
Other: Volume ID: 34 , Issue ID: 7 , Pages: 573-6 , Word Count: 208

BACKGROUND: Conventional asthma management has provided significant symptomatic relief for asthma sufferers, as well as having saved the lives of many asthma patients. However, many patients with asthma--and the parents of children with asthma--are increasingly seeking to improve asthma control and quality of life, and reduce medication dosage by using an integrative medicine (IM) approach to their asthma management. This approach incorporates lifestyle interventions, psychological approaches, and complementary therapies. OBJECTIVE: This article reviews some of the evidence for the IM approach to asthma including complementary medicine (CM), lifestyle and mind-body strategies; and discusses some of the practical and safety issues involved. DISCUSSION: Many patients report significant benefits from broadening their approach to asthma, but there is also the potential risk of some patients to make unsafe treatment choices and possibly forego adequate supervision. Unfortunately, many patients do not inform their general practitioner about their use of CM. Medical education has not traditionally trained doctors to be aware of evidence based lifestyle and CM treatment options. The informed GP plays a vital role in supervision, educating patients about valid and safe treatment options, decision making, and supporting legitimate patient empowerment in their own management. An evidence based integrative approach offers the best potential outcomes for doctor, patient and family.