Chiropractic Works with Dr. Birk

Breathing Easier - Natural Wellness or Drugs for Asthma Treatment?

Posted: April 17, 2018
By: Dr. Ruminder Birk

Health sections of news websites have given plenty of attention to the steroid-based inhalers given to children in the fight against growing asthma levels; but little attention is given to the risks or complications associated with them. Nor are there many column inches devoted to alternatives or supplementary forms of treatment. Research into natural spinal procedures such as chiropractic adjustments for the correction of structural abnormalities like the ones you receive at Atlantis Wellness Center has shown potential for easing asthma as well as other common chronic conditions on the rise worldwide. 


Asthma is a common, chronic inflammatory disease that affects the airways, causing the muscles around the airway walls to tighten and the lining to inflame. This restricts the flow of air and causes breathing problems and a build up of mucus or phlegm can worsen the situation. Nobody knows exactly what causes this, though some environmental triggers are known (such as air pollutants and chemicals, smoke, pollen, animal hair and dust mites), and diet and family history of allergies are thought to play an important role in it. 

Around 235 million people worldwide have asthma. In the past 35 years, the prevalence of pediatric asthma has increased more than 50% and mortality more than 70%. 

For the past few decades asthma in adults and children has been treated mainly with salbutamol-based inhalers, the most common of which is Ventolin. These are known as 'beta2-adrenoceptor agonists (SABA)' drugs and work by relaxing muscles in the air passages of the lungs, keeping the airways open and quickly making it easier to breathe. These drugs have reduced asthma deaths and hospital visits though they are not suitable for everyone - for instance, diabetes sufferers. Also, it has been questioned whether excessive use of such drugs may contribute to the increased morbidity and mortality of the condition. 


Since the 1990s, such medications used at the onset of an attack are often combined with longer term, preventative medicines known as 'corticosteroids', also administered using inhalers. These are frequently prescribed to children diagnosed with asthma. A group of medical professionals is now warning about the role of these inhalers in stunting growth in children. Two comprehensive and systematic reviews of almost 50 scientific studies on the issue, the results of which were published in The Cochrane Library journal, show that growth in children is reduced by around 0.5 cm (0.2 inch) in the first treatment year. 

Linjie Zhang, of the Federal University of Rio Grande in Brazil, who led the review, said: 


"The evidence... suggests that children treated daily with inhaled corticosteroids may grow approximately half a centimeter less during the first year of treatment." 

The team do stress that the slowdown of growth is not as severe in subsequent years and that the effects can be minimized by lowering the dose. They conclude that the benefits of steroid-based inhalers still outweigh the risks. However, this does prompt the question of whether there are any viable alternatives or supplementary approaches out there, without the undesirable side effects. 

More evidence is coming to light about the long-reaching health benefits of natural spinal procedures you receive at Atlantis such as chiropractic, massage and acupuncture. These have long been suspected and theorized about, since the very early days of modern scientific spinal work. However, funding to provide clinical proof of these benefits has been in relatively short supply compared to the seemingly bottomless funds available for research into medications. 

Chiropractic, acupuncture, yoga, hypnosis, massage, and relaxation have all suggested some potential in randomized clinical trials as possible supplementary measures in the management of chronic asthma. In a Danish survey from 1989 it was reported that many children with chronic asthma receive spinal work, and that 92 percent of parents consider this treatment beneficial. One of the more recent studies into spinal work and asthma dates to 2000, when a team of researcher based in Minnesota tried to determine if spinal work in addition to optimal medical management improved the conditions of children with asthma. Their findings were published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiology Therapy. 


The study considered 36 patients aged 6 to 17 years with mild and moderate persistent asthma; they were administered 20 spinal procedures during a 3-month intervention phase. They were randomly assigned either active spinal work or sham spinal work and this was received in addition to their standardized ongoing medical management. 

During the study, the researchers measured pulmonary function, quality of life, asthma severity, and improvement, amongst other things. It found that, after 12 weeks, there was little or no change to pulmonary function; however patients rated their quality of life significantly higher, with more activity possible and a big reduction in asthma severity reported. The overall improvement rating corresponded to 50 percent to 75 percent and this was maintained in a follow up study a year later. The role of chiropractic and natural wellness as a replacement for or supplement to modern medications, perhaps with a view to reducing dosages (and thereby, in the case of asthma, reducing the detrimental growth-inhibiting effects) certainly warrants more coverage and further study.

Back to blog index

Archives