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Written by Dr Ashwini Konnur,
The growing industrialization has polluted the environment so much that there is such a minimum amount of oxygen available to the living organism. Trees that are needed to supply oxygen are cut down every day for mans’ increasing greed that has led to an infinite number of health hazards. Asthma is one such disease which has increased in today’s world. In this article you will learn how Ayurveda can help prevent Asthma.
Asthma is a respiratory ailment which is characterized by shortness of breath and recurrent attacks of breathlessness which is accompanied by wheezing. This happens due to the inflammation of respiratory passages which reduces the space for movement of air in and out of the lungs.
Asthma is considered as Swasa Roga (Dyspnoea – difficulty in breathing) in Ayurveda. There are 5 types of Swasa Roga listed in Ayurveda classics
• Maha Swasa – It is characterized by prolonged expiration during which the affected person sounds like a provoked bull. The respiration of the person could be heard from distance.
• Urdhva Swasa – Expiration is prolonged with a pause and inspiration is impeded. Usually there is white mucosal coating on the upper & Lower respiratory tract.
• Chinna Swasa–Interrupted breathing. Breathing is accompanied with pain as though the vital organs are being injured. Usually compared to Chyne –stroke breathing meaning gradual deepening and diminishing respiration.
• Tamaka Swasa – It is Bronchial Asthma.
• Kshudra Swasa – Dyspnoea due to aspiration of any article such as dust, etc. into the trachea.
Today we will learn all about Tamaka Swasa or the Bronchial Asthma.
“Tamasoatiandhakarena \ Kim vaatamasaatamogunena \\”
A person suffering from Tamakaswasa often feels as if he is entering through darkness during the paroxysm. The attack of Asthma often becomes worse in evening and at dark. It is Kapha Dosha predominant ailment but Vata and pitta act as accessories. Vata associated Asthma is characterized by wheezing and dry cough, associated with other symptoms like thirst, dryness of skin, mouth, constipation, anxiety and craving for hot liquids. When there is involvement of Pitta the phlegm is yellow or green in colour. Along with cough and wheezing there might be fever, sweating, irritability and wanting for cool breeze. Kapha Dosha when involved there is too much wheezing and cough with plenty of white thick phlegm. Lungs often gets congested and respiration is usually with a sound “ghur-ghur’ or whistling.
A few other symptoms of Asthma are chest tightness and pain due to increased coughing, breathlessness, anxiety, distended abdomen, uneasiness in the body, palpitation, weakness and tiredness, fainting, delusion, unconsciousness during repeated coughing, restlessness, hoarseness of voice, sleeplessness, dark circle around the eye and dyspnoea specially during lying posture.
Cause of Asthma from a western medical viewpoint is complex, involving genetic and environmental interfaces. Ayurveda considers the cause of Asthma is due to impaired Agni or due to improper digestion. When the food is not digested properly Ama or toxins arise which circulates throughout the body. This Ama aggravates Kapha Dosha in the lungs and starts obstructing the passages of the respiratory tract which results in aggravation of Vata. The clogging of Kapha results in directional change of Vata Dosha which results in dyspnoea.
Some of the aggravating factors of Asthma are tobacco smoke – active or passive, food allergy, infections in airways and chest, airborne allergens, some medications, psychological factors, fear, anxiety, stress and of course weather changes.
The degree of attack varies from person to person. Children are getting more prone to the attack of asthma. Ayurveda has answer for every individual. Ayurveda helps in treating Asthma. If Asthma is of recent origin then cure is very easy. If Asthma is from a longer duration then treatment may take time but definitely there is a positive result. Ayurveda aims to improve the immune system and to strengthen the body and mind. The herbs help in reducing the symptoms and cure asthma in a natural way. The treatment eliminates the toxins and increases disease resistance in the body.
Traditionally first line of treatment for Tamaka swasa is ‘Shodhana’ or purification procedure called Vamana (upward cleansing process which is one of the Panchakarma procedure). An experienced Ayurveda expert takes necessary precautions and decides the apt timing to give the treatment so that the excess doshas is expelled from the body. Shodhana helps in deep level cleansing process and decreases the chances of recurrence of the disease. This line of treatment should only be given if the individual is strong enough and the disease is not overpowering the individual. After purification palliative treatment is given.
What to do at the time of Asthma attack?
• During the attack of asthma it’s better to sit straight or just lean forward than staying in lying down position.
• Never panic during the attack, panicking will only worsen your condition. Instead relax and keep your mind calm.
• Apply warm “Lavana Taila” (Salted oil) on the chest, back and shoulder. It should be followed by hot water fomentation using the hot water bag of steam to the chest and back area. This will help in melting of the Kapha.
• One could drink hot soup or sip hot water every now and then, this will provide relief.
• Vomiting at the time of attack will give instant relief from asthma attack. This will take out all the phlegm from the chest and clear the congestion.
Home remedies that may help to reduce the symptoms:
• 1 inch ginger cut into small pieces and boiled in 500 ml of water, this can be drunk when ever thirsty, it helps in increasing the digestion and reduces symptoms.
• Mix 10 – 15 drops of garlic juice in warm water and take internally.
• 1 tsp of Ginger juice mixed with tulsi juice and crushed pepper mixed with a little honey and taken everyday morning before breakfast helps in clearing the air passage.
• Decoction of Arjuna bark mixed with honey is also helpful.
• 5 – 8 cloves of garlic boiled in milk should be consumed every day.
• Paste of Black resin, dates, long Pippli (Piper longum) and honey, in equal quantity should be taken one teaspoonful in the morning and evening with warm milk.
• Turmeric mixed with milk and consumed reduces inflammation and symptoms.
• Steam inhalation helps in relieving the congestion of respiratory tract.
Following an appropriate diet is very important to maintain a perfect health. Here are some of the dietary and lifestyle tips that one can follow to combat Asthma:
• Avoid fried and processed food.
• Avoid curd, buttermilk, chees, dairy products which have a tendency to produce phlegm.
• Overeating should be avoided specially at night.
• Fruits such as watermelon, banana and guava must be avoided.
• Avoid cold water, ice-cream, cold drinks etc.
• Drink hot water in plenty.
• Consume food when it’s hot or warm.
• Use ginger and garlic in your food.
• Consume lots of green leafy vegetables, fresh vegetables and fruits.
• Avoid stress, worry and anxiety.
• Avoid cold and damp places.
• Avoid smoking actively and passively.
• Identify and stay away from all the triggering factors of asthma.
• Use a cloth or mask to cover your nose while cleaning/ driving to avoid dust, pollen and pollution.
Yoga for Asthma:
Yoga is beneficial in calming down the mind and strengthening the body. Yoga asanas are done with breathing. Since there is synchronized body movements with breathing it helps in clearing the lungs with accumulated or stored carbon dioxide. Yoga helps to utilize all the lobes of the lungs for better breathing and helps to relieve congestion and thus eases asthma.
Asanas that are useful in asthma are:
Pranayama – Kapalabhati, Nadishuddhi pranayama (Alternate nostril breathing). 20 minutes of yoga practice increases physical and mental energy. Pranayama increases lung capacity and clears the airway passages.
Ayurveda and yoga together is most beneficial to reduce the symptoms of asthma and avoid recurrence of the same. The remedies suggested above will help you reduce the symptoms to certain extent but that is not a cure. Consulting Ayurveda expert at the earliest is better to get the disease treated from the root at the earliest.
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