asthma bowen therapy alternative

With back burning happening around Sydney last month and the high amount of smoke in the air, a number of clients commented that their chest feels tight.  Many were concerned about their asthma.

Most are surprised to know that Bowen Therapy can help asthma – not just their back or knees !


1 in 10 Australians have asthma – that’s around 2.3 million people.  It affects people of all ages, but is more common in males aged 0–14.  Among those aged 15 and over, it is more common in females.

People with asthma have sensitive airways in their lungs.  Their airways can react to triggers, causing a ‘flare-up’, where the muscles around the airway squeeze tight, the airways swell and become narrow.  These things make it harder to breathe.

Common triggers of asthma attacks include

  • colds, flu, bronchitis
  • stress
  • cold, dry air
  • smoke (cigarette or envrionmental)
  • pets (such as cats or dogs)
  • dust, pollen

Symptoms often vary from person to person, but they most commonly include:

  • breathlessness
  • wheezing
  • tight feeling in the chest
  • continuing cough

Key organs involved in asthma are not only the lungs, but also the diaphragm. The diaphragm contracts normally when breathing in and then relaxes to allow expiration.

However with asthma, the diaphragm may be in a level of constant contraction (resulting in the familiar wheeze of an asthmatic).  If an asthma trigger is felt, the diaphragm seems to contract more.  This allows the asthmatic to breath in, but becomes increasingly difficult to breath out.

Bowen therapy helps asthma through calming the nervous system and releasing tension in the diaphragm, helping the diaphragm relax.  This leads to a reduction in attacks and their severity, plus an improvement in breathing.  Combined with a small move you can do yourself, keeping asthma in control should be possible.


A study was conducted in the UK in 2003, involving 24 asthma sufferers to document the efficacy of Bowen to help.  They were treated by registered Bowen Therapists, and kept a diary over a year detailing any attacks, the frequency and severity of attacks, and their reliance on medication.

The study found that 30% of participants found that their asthma “improved dramatically”, while 60% found that it “improved substantially.”  Before the study, 50% of participants rated their asthma as “moderate”, and 37% as “severe”.  After a series of treatments, 75% rated it as “mild”.

83% of participants reported a reduction in the frequency of their attacks.  75% reported a reduction in the severity of their attacks .  75% were using less medication than before starting the study.  58% reported they were responding better to their medication when it was needed.  71% of volunteers reported their sensitivity to triggers had reduced.

Since this study, countless asthma sufferers have benefited from Bowen therapy to reduce their symptoms and need for medication.


In summary, Bowen helps reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.  Sufferers experience reduced sensitivity to triggers.  Bowen helps asthma sufferers reduce their need for medication, and help them respond better to the medication when needed.  More details are available at

In the first Bowen session, clients can be shown how to do a quick “diaphragm-move” they can do on themselves to help. It’s easy to learn – I’ve taught a child as young as 7.  It can be practiced between treatments, to be confident to use if starting to feel their chest tighten or breath shorten.  After just a few sessions, most clients experience a reduction in their symptoms.  The occasional maintenance treatment can help keep that reduction in symptoms.

The “diaphragm-move” is safe and quick to do. In an attack, the person may not be able to breath out at all. The “diaphragm-move” can help release the spasm in the diaphragm and the air is released from the lungs.  This move is also excellent for hiccups or coughing – even anxiety or panic attacks to help relieve and tight chest and normalise breathing.


Note that this move does not replace proper medical intervention in the case of a full asthma attack – Asthma Australia has an Emergency guide that can be downloaded and printed at