Asthma: Causes, Symptoms, And Ayurvedic Treatment
by Dr. Surya Bhagwati on Jul 12, 2021
Asthma is a chronic disease of the respiratory system. In this post, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, risk factors, and when you should seek medical help. Ayurvedic treatments and some useful home remedies to manage asthma have also been outlined in this blog.
Table Of Contents
What Is Asthma?
Asthma, a chronic (ongoing) disease, affects your airways that carry air from the nose and mouth to the lungs, causing difficulty breathing. During an asthma attack, the patient experiences shortness of breath. We all know Asthma by the name of Damaa or Shwaas.
In an asthma attack, the muscles around the airways contract to make them narrow. The inner linings of airways swell and produce excess mucus clogging airways. These triggers coughing, wheezing (a whistling sound) during breathing as well as shortness of breath.
Ayurved refers to bronchial asthma as Tamaka Shwasa, one of the five types of Shwasa. Aggravated Vata and Kapha doshas lead to this type of shwasa.
Causes Of Asthma
The exact cause is still not clear. A combination of certain environmental and genetic factors increases the risk of becoming asthmatic.
The most common asthma triggers include:
- Allergens (substances that cause allergies) like pollen, dust mites, mould spores, pet dander, rodents
- Pollutants or irritants present in the air like cigarette smoke, dust, smog, wood fires, strong fumes, vapours, or odours (such as paint or perfumes)
- Colouring agents or preservatives used in food, ice creams
- Occupations with constant exposure to wood and cotton dust, chemicals
- Cold and dry climate or sudden changes in the weather
- Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
- Intense physical activities like exercises
- High stress or extreme emotions like anger, fear, overexcitement
Doctor’s Advice: It is best to avoid or limit contact with known allergens to decrease or prevent asthmatic episodes.
Here are few common things that may increase your chances of having asthma (becoming asthmatic):
- Family history: Having an asthmatic blood relative such as a parent or sibling
- Age: It can start at any age. According to studies, about half of all asthmatic patients had their first symptoms by the age of 10 years
- Allergic diseases: Having another allergic condition like atopic dermatitis (red, itchy skin) or hay fever (causes a runny nose, congestion, and itchy eyes)
- Excess body weight or obesity
- Smoking or passively inhaling tobacco smoke
- Certain occupations exposing to chemical irritants like grain dust, animal dander, fungi, or chemicals used in hairdressing or manufacturing
What Types Of Asthma Are There?
- Allergic asthma: When you are exposed to allergens like moulds or pollens, it can cause breathing difficulties.
- Non-allergic asthma: Outside factors like vigorous physical activities, stressful situations, severe illness, and cold weather may cause a flare.
What Are The Asthma Symptoms?
Symptoms may vary from person to person. You may have recurring attacks only at certain times - when exercising or when exposed to allergens. Some can have symptoms all the time.
List of asthma signs and symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing (increases in night and early morning)
- Wheezing (a whistling sound during exhaling)
- Chest tightness or pressure or pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Fainting during the bought of cough
- Sweating on the forehead
When To See A Doctor?
Seek medical help immediately you experience any of these symptoms:
- Rapid breathing with chest retractions
- Bluish discolouration of mucus membranes (lips and around the eyes) and fingertips or nail beds
- Fast movement of nostrils
- Rapid and deep chest or stomach movements
- The expanded chest does not deflate when you exhale
There is no permanent cure for this respiratory disease. Taking asthma medicines and avoiding your triggers help to control asthma symptoms. Proper treatment and modifications in the diet and lifestyle can help reduce the recurrence and enjoy a better quality of life.
Ayurvedic Treatment For Asthma
As per Ayurved, imbalance of Vata and Kapha doshas causes Tamaka Shwasa. Ayurvedic treatments aim to eliminate the excess Kapha and regulate its production.
Following treatment modalities are prescribed based on patients need:
- Swedana (Sudation)
- Vamana (Therapeutic emesis)
- Virechana (Therapeutic purgation)
The practice of Pranayama, rational use of gentle laxatives, light diet at night, and use of warm water will help in the treatment of Asthma.
Ayurvedic Medicine For Asthma
Among all the treatment modalities, polyherbal combinations are well-accepted, safe, and effective in controlling breathing problems. Herbal preparations are among the most popular complementary treatment modality.
Ayurved has described many herbal formulations to manage breathing issues. Herbs having hot potency and Vata-Kapha pacifying properties are used to treat asthma.
Herbs and herbo-mineral formations used in asthma treatment:
- Jyesthimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Haridra (Curcuma longa)
- Vasa (Adhatoda vasica)
- Lavang (Syzygium aromaticum)
- Elaichi (Elettaria cardamomum)
- Pippali (Piper longum)
- Tulasi (Ocimum sanctum)
- Sunth (Zingiber officinale)
- Shwaskuthar Rasa
- Abhrak Bhasma
These herbs reduce inflammation and dilate the airways, and thus, helps in easing breathing. You can know which treatment modalities and medicines are suitable for you by talking to your Ayurvedic doctor.
Dr. Vaidya’s Ayurvedic clinic in Mumbai has consultants that can help provide you with tailored treatment options for your Asthma. Just call, email or book an appointment for online Ayurvedic doctor consultation.
Home Remedies For Asthma
During an asthma attack, you should seek emergency medical advice as it can be life-threatening. You can make changes in diet and lifestyle in between to improve respiratory health and reduce the frequency and intensity of attacks.
- Take easily digestible, warm, and fresh foods.
- Include old rice, green gram, horse gram, barley, snake gourd, spices (like garlic, turmeric, ginger, black pepper), and honey.
- Drink lukewarm water.
- Have a light dinner.
- Do Pranayama and Yoga daily.
- Avoid overeating, heavy-to-digest, sweet, cold, and deep-fried foods.
- Minimize black gram, bananas, fish, sweets, chilled water, raw milk, and curd.
- Avoid excessive physical exertion, exposure to cold & humid atmosphere, smoke, dust, fumes, pollutants, and pollens.
Though asthma does not have a permanent cure, making dietary changes and adopting a healthy lifestyle can help you control its symptoms. Ayurvedic medicines can certainly help minimize the frequency and intensity of attacks and improve your quality of life.
- Asthma | National Health Portal Of India. https://www.nhp.gov.in/disease/respiratory/lungs/asthma. Accessed 17 July 2021.
- Gabrielian, E.S. & Narimanian, M.Z. & Aslanian, G. & Amroyan, E.A. & Panossian, Alexander. (2004). A placebo controlled double blind study with an ayurvedic drug PulmoFlex in bronchial asthma. Phytomedica. 5. 113-120.
- Bielory L, Lupoli K, et al; Herbal interventions in asthma and allergy, J Asthma. 1999; 36(1):1-65.
- Ng TP et al; The use of complementary and alternative medicine by asthma patients, QJM. 2003 Oct; 96(10):747-54.