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Jun 02, 2014 12:48 PM EDT

Yoga May Not Improve Asthma Symptoms

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Yoga has long been touted as a method to help asthma sufferers alleviate symptoms; however a recent study found little evidence that the practice improve symptoms.

Researchers examined 14 previously published studies to determine the effectiveness of yoga in the treatment of asthma.

Asthma triggers can include exposure to allergens, respiratory infections and cold weather.

"Many people practice yoga for its health benefits, including asthma sufferers," Holger Cramer, lead author of the study, said in a statement. "We reviewed the available data to see if it made a difference and found only weak evidence that it does. Yoga can't be considered a routine intervention for patients with asthma at this time. But it can be considered an alternative to breathing exercises for asthma patients interested in complementary interventions."

More than 800 people were part of 14 studies examined for evidence that yoga improves control, symptoms, quality of life and lung function in patients with asthma. Participants in the studies were from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.

"Many asthma sufferers look to complementary therapies, such as yoga, to help relieve their symptoms," Michael Foggs, allergist and president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), said in a statement. "If yoga helps them to feel better and breathe better, patients should by all means practice it. At the same time, we don't advise that yoga be recommended to asthma sufferers as a treatment."

According to members of ACAAI, prevention is always the best strategy in controlling asthma symptoms. They say long-term medications are preventive, taken daily and can achieve and maintain control of asthma symptoms. For people with allergic asthma, immunotherapy (allergy shots) may offer relief from symptoms prompted by allergens that act as triggers and cannot be avoided.

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