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Can’t Breathe? Here Are New Findings on Complementary Treatments for Asthma

If you have ever been unable to breathe, or witnessed someone having difficulty breathing, you probably wished you had an arsenal of treatments to battle this debilitating symptom of asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, and other breathing disorders. Currently, the only proven methods for controlling asthma are prescription medications and avoiding triggers, but other common treatments do exist. At the 2014 Association of Asthma Educators conference in San Antonio, 34 asthma educators responded to a Harmonica Techs survey about alternative treatments for asthma.

83% of the educators recommended breathing exercises, which include pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing. Asthma actually causes air to become trapped in the lungs, and some people find relief with pursed lip breathing- inhaling slowly through the nose and then exhale twice as slowly through pursed lips, as if trying to whistle. Diaphragmatic breathing maximizes air distribution in the lungs, strengthens the muscles that work the lungs, increases oxygenation and reduces stress. Upon inhaling deeply, the belly should go out, not the chest. Exhale twice as slowly with the abdomen going in, and concentrate on taking long and slow belly breaths for best results.

60% of the educators had recommended an exercise program similar to that found in pulmonary rehabilitation. Many people with asthma are afraid that exercise will cause an attack, but if proper precautions are taken, such as using an inhaler prior to exercise or having an inhaler nearby, almost everyone will benefit from staying active.

51% had recommended relaxation therapy and meditation. Simple relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation and breath meditation have been shown to be beneficial for people with breathing difficulties.

34% cited inspiratory muscle training, which usually involves a training device such as an incentive spirometer. Most people only use a small percentage of their lung capacity, but by training the respiratory system against resistance, more of the lungs can be engaged. A strong respiratory system is vital to strong circulatory and immune systems. For people who have a lot of mucus in their lungs, some devices will help loosen the mucus and make it easier to eliminate.

20% mentioned playing wind instruments, which have long been thought to be good for the lungs. Besides the obvious deep breathing aspect of playing, the cerebral challenge and expression of creativity are good for mental health. Other complementary treatments recommended included vitamins and supplements, massage and chiropractic, acupuncture, hypnotherapy and speech therapy.

We are proud that the top five most commonly recommended complementary treatments for asthma have all been incorporated into development of the Pulmonica®. Long, slow, deep and complete breaths are all that are needed to use the specially tuned pulmonary harmonica, and the result is a relaxing breath exercise against mild resistance. No musical talent is needed to benefit from this instrument. The low vibrations help loosen congestion, regular use is meditative and should help engage more of a person’s lungs. Plus, the Pulmonica® is fun to use so compliance is higher than with a more medical looking device. Testimonials indicate that people who used the Pulmonica® needed less medication, became more active, and enjoyed exercising their respiratory system with this innovative product.