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Copyright 2013 Natural Standard (
December 2011

Massage Therapy May Improve Asthma Symptoms in Children

Massage therapy may improve lung function for children with asthma, according to a new study.

Numerous theories exist on how massage therapy may be beneficial, although there is limited research on the mechanism of action. There is promising preliminary evidence that suggests massage therapy may be beneficial to the lung function of children with asthma; however, data are not conclusive.

In a new study, 60 children with asthma were randomly assigned to receive 20 minutes of massage therapy from their parents at home for five weeks in addition to standard asthma care, or to a control group of only standard care. Several lung function tests, including spirometry, which measures the volume of air that can be inhaled or exhaled, forced expiratory flow in one second, which is the speed of air coming out of the lung, were performed on the first and last day of treatment.

The researchers found that at the end of the study, forced expiratory flow was significantly higher for children in the massage therapy group when compared to the control group. There was also a significant improvement in the forced respiratory flow to forced vital capacity (volume of air that can be forced out after full inspiration) ratio. No significant improvements were found for other lung function tests, including the peak expiratory flow.

The authors concluded that massage therapy may improve lung function for children with asthma. However, further well-designed studies are necessary to confirm these findings.

For more information about integrative therapies for asthma, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.

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  1. Abdel Fattah M, Hamdy B. Pulmonary functions of children with asthma improve following massage therapy. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Nov;17(11):1065-8. View Abstract
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
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