Asthma is a prevalent childhood atopic disease associated with significant impairment of quality of life. Management
relies on avoidance of triggers such as food and aeroallergens, the use of inhaled bronchodilators/corticosteroids
and anti-allergic or immune-modulating therapies. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) and bronchodilators have been the mainstay
of treatment. In China as well as throughout Asia, myths and misconceptions on western medicine and corticosteroids
are prevalent and result in non-adherence of treatment. A wide variety of complementary and alternative medicines
(CAM) are available. Some of these have undergone extensive clinical trials and have been documented to have some
therapeutic effects on asthma. Nevertheless, the majority of these treatment modalities is not efficacious and may even be
detrimental. This article overviews the evidence for the clinical efficacy of all major CAM modalities. Despite CAM modalities
are extensively used by the patients with asthma, very few CAM patents are available. This article also discusses
recent patents pertinent to asthma. Only a few patents on herbal medicine for asthma have been evaluated but therapeutic
efficacy is not substantially documented. Parents seeking CAM for asthma must consult qualified registered practitioners
before using it.
Keywords: Alternative medicine, asthma, bronchial obstruction, complementary medicine, efficacy, safety.
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