The research, conducted by scientists in the USA, assessed 39 people with mild-to-moderate asthma. A third of the group received a typical asthma drug as treatment, another third received a fake placebo drug and the final third received a fake acupuncture treatment.
All participants reported around 50% improvement in their symptoms. The lowest improvements were seen in patients who received no therapy at all and were sent home after waiting for several hours.
The full benefit of the asthma drug treatment was only seen when lung function tests were carried out. Those who took the asthma drug showed a 20 per cent improvement in the amount of air that they could force out of their lungs in one second.
The findings demonstrate that the relationship between a patient and a doctor and the way a person with asthma is treated, is just as important as the medication.
Fake acupuncture was the most convincing treatment as 85 per cent of those receiving it thought they were getting real therapy.