Asthma is a respiratory disease that is characterized by narrowing of the airways. This happens when the body responses to a trigger such as exposure to cold air, allergens in the air, emotional stress, or heavy exercise. When the airways narrow, patients show symptoms such as tightness of the chest, wheezing noise while breathing, coughing, and shortness of breath. This condition is due to inflammation of the air passage in the lungs.
Asthma is called as Swasa roga in Ayurveda because of difficulty in breathing being main symptom. According to Charaka Samhita there are 5 types of swasa rogas : Mahashwas, urdhwashwas, chinashwas, tamakshwas, and kshudrashwas. The first three are not curable, tamakshwas can be controlled and ksudrashwas is curable.
From this statement Asthma can be closely correlated with tamakshwasa in Ayurveda.
The exact cause of asthma is unknown, and the causes may vary from person to person. However, asthma is often the result of a strong response of the immune system to a substance in the lungs. The most common things in the environment that trigger asthma attacks are exercise, allergens, irritants, and viral infections. While those that have a parent or a sibling may be more likely to be affected by asthma, there is no one single cause of asthma, and there may be many contributing factors including:
- Allergens: Pollen from trees, grass, indoor and outdoor mold, dander from the skin, hair, or feathers of animals, dust mites found in household dust cockroaches.
- Diet: junk food, fast foods, foods such as shrimp, dried fruits, processed potatoes, beer and wine that may include sulfites, preservatives and additives, a diet with insufficient fruits, vegetables, fiber, minerals, and other nutrients.
- Irritants: Cold air and changes in weather, air pollutants, cigarette smoke, chemical fumes in household products and paint, odors from cooking, scented products,
- Others: Medicines such as aspirin and beta-blockers. Other triggers may include crying, laughing hard, emotions such as fear or anger, physical exercise, menstrual cycle in some women and general stress.
According to Ayurveda, the Nidana (Causative factors) are as follows:
Ayurveda texts say that root cause of asthma is due to poor digestion. Poor digestion helps in the buildup of toxins in the body and they are carried into the lungs and chest area causing harm to the epithelial lining of airways.
- Vata kapha prakopaka Aahara and Vihara : Food and activities that vitiates vata and kapha doshas.
- Exogenous cause: Pradesh Aaghata (chest injury), Dust, dander,allergens, pollen.
- Endogenous cause: pranavaha srotas vikar (Respiratory Disorder), Aama visha (toxins)
Types of Asthma
- Acute asthma is sudden attack cause by an inflammation of the air sacs of the lungs, that further causes the narrowing and contraction of the bronchioles causing a restriction of airflow making breathing difficult.
- Chronic asthma: is characterized by frequent asthma attacks which required medical management to prevent and minimize acute attacks.
- Exercise-induced asthma: is triggered by exercise and is characterized by coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing. It is most common in children and young adults, occurring mostly while during exercising in cold, dry conditions. Intense symptoms usually last for 10 minutes after exercising and gradually subside over time whereas allergic asthma produces a long duration of airway activity.
- The most common symptom of asthma is wheezing, a squealing or whistling sound made when you breathe.
Other asthma symptoms may include:
- coughing, especially at night, when laughing, or during exercise
- tightness in the chest
- shortness of breath
- difficulty talking
- anxiousness or panic
- Mucoid sputum
- Symptoms worse at night
Not everyone with asthma will experience these particular symptoms. If you think the symptoms you’re experiencing could be a sign of a condition such as asthma, make an appointment at Sunshine Ayurveda Centre with experienced doctor.
Ayurvedic Management of Asthma:
In modern medicine, many treatments can ease your symptoms but maximum Asthma treatment includes corticosteroids. These medications treat asthma in the long term. That means you’ll take them every day to keep your asthma under control. They prevent and ease swelling inside your airways, and they may help your body make less mucus. You’ll use a device called an inhaler to get the medicine into your lungs.
Ayurvedic treatment modalities include panchakarma, external therapies, internal medications, Activities, Advice of food and lifestyle changes. Management of asthma is very effective and should be performed consulting qualified ayurvedic physician.
- Nidana parivarjanam (Avoidance of causative and precipitating factors) i.e. avoid allergens, pollutions, drugs and everything that triggers asthma attack.
- Kapha- vatahara avem Ushna Aahara: Intake of food that is Ushna (hot) and which has the feature of alleviating kapha and vata.
- Purification therapy (panchakarma) – Panchakarma therapy is very much beneficial in Asthma and other respiratory ailments. This therapy should be performed under the supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic Doctor and never to experiment without supervision. This therapy includes:
- Oleation therapy (snehana) – It includes both external and internal forms of oil treatment. Herbal oils like mahanarayan oil are massaged into the skin. Ghee is taken with some herbs.
- Fomentation or sweat therapy (swedana) – It helps in removing toxins through sweat.
- Laxative therapy (Virechana) – It is an intake of medicated herbs and discharging through the anal route.
- Therapeutic vomiting therapy (Vamana) –It is purging removing waste through the upper gastro enteral track.
Herbs beneficial for Asthma:
A number of herbs have been touted to give relief and prevent asthma they are:
- Ginger – it helps in decreasing inflammation and decreasing and managing asthma symptoms
- Turmeric – it helps prevent asthma attacks and keep allergies at bay
- Lemongrass – it contains anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties and is rich in vitamin c that boosts immunity and fights inflammation
- Garlic – it has anti-inflammatory properties that help clear congestions in the chest
- Oregano – it contains flavonoids and anti-inflammatory properties that act as lung cleansing elements
- Licorice – it has anti-inflammatory properties that help in restoring normal breathing
Ayurvedic drugs and herbal formulations:
- Expectorants/Mucolytics ( Kapha nissarak) such as:
Sitopladi churna , Suddha tankan , Swaskuthar ras, Madhuyashti kwatha.
- Bronchodilators (Swasnalika vispharak) such as:
- Kantkari avleha, Kanakasva. Somlata churna.
- Anti allergics such as:
- Haridra khanda , Rasmanikaya, Praval panchamrit,. Sirishavleha, Sirishadi kwatha, Somlata churna.
Meditation has beneficial effects on personality, emotions, and the psyche.The following Asanas and Pranayama can be done:
- Yoga nindra
- Pulses like rice, wheat, barley, beans should be consumed regularly.
- Avoid exposure to indoor and outdoor pollution, cigarette smoke, and allergens
- Add Honey to your drinks and teas
- The heavy foods like milk, cheese, curd, buttermilk and banana should be avoided.
- Try to avoid the cold and refrigerated foods and drinks.
- Avoid excessive or physical exercises
- Cover your mouth and nose when stepping out in cold weather
- Avoid processed foods, additives, white sugar and artificial sweeteners
Note: This article is designed for the general management of Asthma according to Ayurvedic principles. Please do not use this information for your self-diagnosis and treatment without the proper guidelines of a professional. If you wish to follow the Ayurveda program, you are advised to book an Ayurvedic consultation with a qualified Ayurveda doctor who is specialized to design a personal program comprising a diet, a combination of herbs, and a detox program according to your personal needs. Sunshine Ayurveda offers effective and holistic management of Asthma based upon the ancient principles of Ayurveda.
Dr. Ram Mani Bhandari
Disease We Manage