“Novocaine” for Asthma?

Several years ago, a man’s severe wheezing stopped within 20 minutes of starting epidural anesthesia. The wheezing remained absent during the 155 minutes that the lidocaine dripped in, and came back within 55 minutes of stopping, when the blood levels of lidocaine had dropped. Over the last 3 years there have been a half dozen studies exploring the use of the anesthetic lidocaine for treating asthma.

Promising results have been found with both inhaled lidocaine and IV lidocaine. The latest study was published in the March 2002 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The study showed how lidocaine acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory medicine, with effects on T cell function. Lidocaine has potential as asthma therapy even for those with severe steroid-dependent asthma.

Further study is needed, but inhaled lidocaine may be able to help children minimize or eliminate steroids and still keep their inflammation and asthma controlled. Preventive medicines for asthma are the keys to long-term success.

Published on: April 27, 2002
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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