Considerations for Use of Acupuncture as Supplemental Therapy for Patients with Allergic Asthma
This study examines the clinical and immunomodulatory effects of acupuncture in the treatment of patients with allergic asthma. The acupuncture points GV14, BL12, and BL13 were selected based on the theory of traditional Chinese medicine in treating asthma. Manual acupuncture was performed once every other day (three times per week) for 5weeks. The needles were twisted approximately 360° evenly at the rate of 60 times/min for 20s, manipulated every 10min and withdrawn after 30min. Concentrations of sIgA and total IgA in secretions were determined by the combination of sucrose density gradient ultracentrifugation and RIA. Levels of cortisol in the plasma were measured by RIA. Total IgE in the sera was examined by ELISA. Flow cytometry was used to detect the numbers of CD3+, CD4+, CD8+, and IL-2R + T lymphocytes in the peripheral blood. The absolute and differential numbers of eosinophils in peripheral blood were counted with eosin staining. The total efficacy of the acupuncture treatment in patients with allergic asthma at the end of one course of treatment was 85%. After treatment, the concentrations of sIgA and total IgA in the saliva (P < 0.01, P < 0.02) and nasal secretions (P < 0.02, P < 0.02) were significantly decreased in patients with allergic asthma. The levels of total IgE in sera (P < 0.001), the counts of IL-2R + T lymphocytes (P < 0.001), and the absolute and differential numbers of eosinophils (P < 0.01, P < 0.01) in the peripheral blood were also significantly decreased. The numbers of CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ T lymphocytes in the peripheral blood were significantly increased in the allergic asthmatics treated by acupuncture (P < 0.001, P < 0.01, and P < 0.001, respectively). The concentration of cortisol in the plasma of asthmatic patients did not change significantly after the acupuncture treatment (P > 0.05). Acupuncture has regulatory effects on mucosal and cellular immunity in patients with allergic asthma and may be an adjunctive therapy for allergic asthma.