Speleotherapy for asthma

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(2):CD001741. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001741.


Background: Speleotherapy, the use of subterranean environments, is a therapeutic measure in the treatment of chronic obstructive airways diseases. It is virtually unknown in the UK or the US, but has considerable widespread use in some Central and Eastern European countries.

Objectives: To review evidence for the efficacy of speleotherapy in the treatment of asthma.

Search strategy: We searched electronic databases (Medline, Embase, Cochrane Airways group database), contacted speleotherapy centres and experts in the field, hand searched proceedings, and checked bibliographies of articles obtained to identify possible relevant publications.

Selection criteria: We included controlled clinical trials (i.e., both randomized and those not reporting the method of allocation) that compared clinical effects of speleotherapy with another intervention or no intervention in patients with chronic asthma.

Data collection and analysis: Information concerning patients, interventions, results, and methodology were extracted in standardized manner by two independent reviewers and summarized descriptively.

Main results: Three trials including a total of 124 asthmatic children met the inclusion criteria, but only one trial had reasonable methodological quality. Two trials reported that speleotherapy had a beneficial short-term effect on lung function. Other outcomes could not be assessed in a reliable manner. A further search was conducted in July 2000. One further paper was excluded (see excluded studies)

Reviewer's conclusions: The available evidence does not permit a reliable conclusion as to whether speleo-therapeutic interventions are effective for the treatment of chronic asthma. Randomized controlled trials with long-term follow-up are necessary.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Ionization
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Climate
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Naturopathy / methods*