It’s important that clinicians and policy makers are aware of the use complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) among asthma patients, according to new research in BMJ Open. Use of these treatments was highest among those with poor symptom control. These individuals use therapies such as herbal medicines, breathing exercises, and vitamins to treat their condition. Women were also more likely to use CAMs than men.

In looking at 486 adults with self-reported physician-diagnosed asthma, 36.8% reported using CAMs in the previous 12-month period. According to researchers at the Global Initiative for Asthma, 41.6% of patients with currently uncontrolled asthma criteria were 2.25 times more likely to have used CAMs than patients with controlled symptoms; partially controlled asthma was not associated with CAM use.


Investigators believe that controller medication use was not linked to CAM use, so it’s possible CAM is used as both a supplement to conventional treatment and as a substitute therapy. They add that CAM use might be a sign of patients’ lack of satisfaction with their asthma treatment.


“Further research is required to evaluate the economic impact of CAM usage, to further examine other potential factors determining the use of CAMs such as individuals’ value systems and beliefs, access to care, health literacy and quality of life, and to rigorously study the causal interactions between CAM use, asthma control and use of controller medications,” the authors concluded.