Home remedies for Asthma & Bronchitis - The Ayurvedic Approach
by Dr. Surya Bhagwati on Jan 24, 2020
Although classified by modern medicine as two separate diseases, asthma and bronchitis are often confused as they both present similar symptoms. In both respiratory disorders, patients experience inflammation of the airways that restricts airflow to the lungs and consequently to the various organs and tissues. This results in symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and so on. With bronchitis, patients may also have congestion with mucus and in some cases could experience mild fever and body aches. The main area in which they differ is in the causes, with asthma being linked to genetic factors that make the airways more sensitive to allergens like smoke, pollen, or dust. Bronchitis, on the other hand can be caused by bacterial or viral infections, in which case it is described as acute bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is however harder to discern from asthma, as it is triggered by environmental conditions like pollution, smoke, and so on.
The Ayurvedic Perspective of Bronchitis & Asthma
Bronchitis and asthma are not recognized by differentiating terms in Ayurved, but are part of the same grouping of asthmatic diseases or svasa roga. However, Ayurvedic texts do recognize the variations in bronchial and asthmatic disease, describing 5 different types of svasa roga. Bronchitis is therefore just one of these types of svasa roga. Although there are variations in the underlying causes, symptoms are regarded as common to all. These insights closely match modern medical perspectives, with the exception being in terms of disease classification. Avoidance of triggers is regarded as vital in the management of both conditions and treatments are also fairly uniform, as similar factors are at play in both bronchitis and asthma. Kapha aggravation and buildup, which obstructs vata and the flow of prana or lifeforce is regarded as fundamental to both conditions and must be dealt with promptly. Treatment therefore aims to restore the optimal dosha balance, pacify kapha, and exercise therapeutic herbs in ayurvedic medicine for asthma bronchitis to reduce airway inflammation, relieve congestion, and ease respiration.
Here are some of the most effective home remedies for asthma and bronchitis based on and supported by Ayurvedic wisdom.
Ayurvedic Home Remedies for Asthma & Bronchitis
1. Mustard oil
Mustard seeds and oil are common ingredients in most kitchens, making this one of the handiest remedies for asthma or bronchitis. Crushed mustard seeds and mustard oil contain a type of fat called isothiocyanates. Studies show that when used as a topical application over the chest, this can be effective at providing quick relief, opening up the airways to improve airflow to the lungs. The mustard seed paste or oil can be applied directly over your chest for relief or in a poultice, but should be removed within 10-15 minutes.
2. Peppermint Oil
The therapeutic benefits of peppermint are linked to menthol, which is believed to reduce respiratory symptoms when inhaled or applied over the skin. The precise mechanism of action is not understood, but it is believed that peppermint oil reduces spasms of the bronchial smooth muscle. Peppermint is a common ingredient in some Ayurvedic medicines for bronchial asthma and menthol extracts are also used in Ayurvedic herbal inhalers. Like peppermint, eucalyptus oil is also useful for coping with bronchitis, as it helps loosen mucus to reduce congestion
This is another ingredient that you’ll find in almost every kitchen, making it a popular choice for any bronchitis or asthma home remedy. Haridra or turmeric is best known for its powerful anti-inflammatory effect and wound healing properties, which also makes it useful in the management of any inflammatory respiratory disease. The herb can help reduce airway inflammation, improving airflow and reducing respiratory symptoms of the disease within a few weeks of supplementation. Haridra can also be added to meals and used to make haldi doodh or golden milk.
Generally used as a powerful digestive aid that strengthens agni, sunth or dried ginger can also help in the management of asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory conditions. Clinical studies support the Ayurvedic use of ginger as a natural asthma remedy, showing that the herb reduces respiratory symptoms through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Sunth may also be used as a broncho-relaxant to reduce irritation and spasms of the smooth airway muscles.
Tulsi or Holy Basil has great significance in Indian culture and spiritual life, but it is also known for its medicinal properties in Ayurved. The herb has proven immunomodulatory effects that can help improve immune function to fight infections that can cause acute bronchitis, as well as to counter the risk of over active immunity that responds to airborne triggers or allergens. Studies show that tulsi also exhibits anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-allergic, and adaptogenic properties.
Jyesthimadhu occupies an important position in Ayurved, not in the least because of its classification as a rasayana or rejunvenative herb. Although imbibed with various therapeutic properties, it is most widely used in the treatment of respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments. Thanks to its powerful anti-inflammatory effects, the herb can help relieve asthma and bronchitis symptoms that are linked to airway inflammation. This is one ingredient that you should look out for in any Ayurvedic medicine for bronchial asthma.
Other Lifestyle Remedies for Asthma Bronchitis
Physical activity is important to maintain and improve cardiorespiratory function, but asthmatics need to be cautious to avoid triggering attacks. This makes mild exercise routines like yoga preferable. Studies show that mild and low intensity activity like hatha yoga can help reduce the severity and frequency of respiratory attacks. Breathing exercises are also important to build lung strength, lower stress, and reduce the risk of asthma or bronchitis attacks. These beneficial effects were also confirmed in a 2009 study. Similarly, meditation can drastically improve quality of life for asthma and bronchitis patients through its relaxing effects and by training you to consciously relax the muscles.
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