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Complementary and alternative treatment

Homeopathy

Homeopathy Homeopathy is a treatment modality developed by Samuel Hahnemann at the beginning of the 1800s, and it relies on the principle that symptoms of a disease can be cured by the same substances that provoke them when they are ultradiluted. The dilution process has to be performed with a specific procedure named succussion. There is no established scientific rationale behind this assumption.
Some studies have shown a weak beneficial effect of homeopathy for allergic conditions such as rhinitis or asthma, but these are only marginal compared to the well established benefits of “allopathic” treatments (conventional pharmacologic treatment).

In some instances homeopathy has been compared to allergen immunotherapy due to a proposed parallelism in the fact that both therapies deliver minute amounts of the causal agent of the disease. Nevertheless, unlike homeopathy, allergen immunotherapy has scientifically demonstrated efficacy for conditions such as rhinitis, asthma and venom allergy.

Some homeopathic therapists recommend discontinuing other medications to ensure the effect of homeopathy. This may pose a risk for patients with serious conditions such as asthma. Therefore we strongly recommend that you discuss with the therapist the following issues before deciding to continue:

  • What training, qualifications and experience does your therapist have
  • Ask if he/she is registered in any official organization
  • What treatment will be recommended
  •  What benefits can be expected and which side effects may occur
  • Ask for written information to forward to your physicians
  • Ask if you may continue to use conventional medication
  • Ask for an estimation of the number of sessions, length of treatment and the economic costs
     

 

Acupuncture

AcupunctureAcupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine and is widely used for the treatment of chronic illnesses, including asthma. The theory behind the use of acupuncture is to restore the balance of ‘‘vital flows’’ by inserting needles at exact points of the body surface, where the ‘‘meridians’’ of these flows lie.

There is insufficient evidence to make recommendations about the value of acupuncture as a treatment for asthma or rhinitis based on current evidence. Although there are some studies showing a positive effect of acupuncture for these conditions, some compared to “sham” acupuncture, taken together the results of the studies are not unequivocal. The advantage of acupuncture is that apart from the minor local discomfort it bears no side effects.

As stated for other complementary medicines, we strongly recommend that you discuss with the therapist the following issues before deciding to continue:

  • What training, qualifications and experience does your therapist have
  • Ask if he/she is registered in any official organization
  • What treatment will be recommended
  •  What benefits can be expected and which side effects may occur
  • Ask for written information to forward to your physicians
  • Ask if you may continue to use conventional medication
  • Ask for an estimation of the number of sessions, length of treatment and the economic costs

 

Herbal remedies

Herbal remediesHerbal remedies have been used since ancient times in all cultures. They are indeed the base for pharmacology since plants are the main source of active components of many drugs. But unlike conventional approved drugs, no trials have been performed with herbal treatments, the exact effective dose has not been defined and the quantity of active components is not constant.

It is generally considered that herbal therapies are less toxic and without harmful effects. But this is not quite true. For example, if someone is allergic to pollen, certain herbal preparations can produce an allergic reaction, and there are cases of severe reactions.

Also toxic effects of some herbal preparations, such as Aristolochia used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, have been reported.
Therefore, if you are going to use a herbal medicine, consult your physician about potential harmful effects. Again, we recommend that you pose the following questions to your therapist:

  • What training, qualifications and experience does your therapist have
  • Ask if he/she is registered in any official organization
  • What treatment will be recommended
  • What benefits can be expected and which side effects may occur
  • Ask for written information to forward to your physicians
  • Ask if you may continue to use conventional medication
  • Ask for an estimation of the number of sessions, length of treatment and the economic costs