Are there viable alternative therapies for asthma sufferers? Many researchers believe that biofeedback holds promise as a potential method to assist individuals dealing with asthma.
But what exactly is biofeedback? It’s a practice that involves measuring various bodily processes such as heart rate, blood pressure, and galvanic skin response, and then relaying this data to the person in real-time. This process fosters an awareness of these internal functions, ultimately helping individuals gain conscious control over related bodily processes.
For example, scientific studies have shown that people can consciously influence their heart rate. In fact, research conducted at the National Institutes of Health has indicated that patients can be trained to lower their blood pressure through biofeedback.
Biofeedback training is considered part of the realm of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The idea that it’s possible to exert conscious control over automatic bodily functions was initially proposed by Dr. Neal Miller, a neuroscientist at Yale. His assertion was met with skepticism by the scientific and medical establishment of his time, who considered such claims impossible.
Nevertheless, subsequent research conducted by multiple groups has confirmed the possibility of gaining control over unconscious bodily functions. Many migraine sufferers have found relief through biofeedback training, and researchers are exploring the potential of biofeedback as a primary treatment for high blood pressure issues.
How Does Biofeedback Apply to Asthma?
During an asthma attack, the muscles surrounding the airways become inflamed and constricted. If these muscles could be relaxed, it would allow air to flow more freely into the lungs and alleviate the distressing symptoms of asthma. Biofeedback systems are designed to train patients to achieve precisely this.
Furthermore, asthma patients often exhibit abnormal breathing patterns. The Society for Applied Psychotherapy and Biofeedback identifies “barrel breathing” as one such pattern. This is when asthmatics take a deep breath and fail to fully exhale. Instead, they take multiple shallow breaths without completely emptying their lungs.
As a result, their lungs can’t refill with fresh air since they never fully empty when breathing out. Pneumographic biofeedback teaches asthma patients to identify the altered heart rates that occur during barrel breathing. It also guides them in modifying their breathing pattern to reduce their heart rate and enhance oxygen intake.
Several studies have concluded that this form of biofeedback not only reduced asthma symptoms but also decreased lung inflammation and resistance to normal breathing. Heartbeat variability biorhythm treatment has led to reduced medication usage and improved pulmonary function.
The National Institutes of Health advises asthma patients considering biofeedback training to work with a skilled trainer and maintain regular communication with their physician. This is essential because asthma patients require regular monitoring, and medication adjustments may be necessary over time.
In summary, biofeedback treatment stands as one of the more promising alternative therapies for asthma. It offers a potential path to relief for individuals grappling with this respiratory condition.