Ayurvedic Treatment for Asthma - Herbs and Remedies
by Dr. Surya Bhagwati on Oct 14, 2019
Living with asthma can be incredibly challenging, even posing a threat to your life. After all, every organ of the body needs oxygen to function and survive, and asthma inflames and narrows the airways obstructing this flow of oxygen. Unfortunately, asthma is often a chronic condition, which means that there is no known cure. This makes effective management and a combination of treatments vital to lessen symptoms and lower the risk of asthma attacks. While the first step of asthma management is the identification and avoidance of triggers that can cause asthma attacks, there’s more that you can do to cope with the condition. There is a lot of knowledge to be found in classical Ayurvedic texts like the Charaka Samhita, in which asthma is described as svasa roga. They also provide us with valuable insights for the natural treatment of asthma, using Ayurvedic therapies, herbs, and home remedies.
Ayurvedic Perspective of Asthma
Much of the knowledge preserved in the ancient Ayurvedic texts is in agreement with modern medicine. Ayurved recognizes that there are different types of asthma, some of which are acute and others chronic. It also highlights the same risk factors or triggers for asthma attacks, including environmental factors like dust, smoke, dry cold air, pollen, and so on, poor dietary practices, and lifestyle choices. However, Ayurved recognizes the role of natural energy forces or doshas in the origins and progression of disease. Aggravation of kapha that spreads and obstructs vata, vitiating the channels of prana or respiration is an important contributor to asthma. For this reason, Ayurvedic treatment of asthma focuses on restoring this balance, reducing inflammation, and strengthening lung function through therapies like panchakarma and the use of herbs or herbal medications.
While panchakarma treatment should be administered in a clinical setting, herbs and lifestyle practices can be used to treat asthma at home. Here are some of the most effective Ayurvedic remedies for asthma.
Ayurvedic Herbs for Asthma
Haridra or turmeric is a spice that we’re all familiar with, but it’s also an important Ayurvedic herb. Commonly used to treat respiratory infections, inflammation, and wounds, the herb can also help in the management of asthma. Its anti-inflammatory properties, which are linked to curcumin, have been shown to reduce airway obstruction, with one study showing a reduction in asthma symptoms with 30 days of supplementation.
Sunth or dried ginger is another herb that is highly valued in Ayurved for its therapeutic potential. Aside from aiding digestion, sunth is also used to treat asthma and other respiratory ailments, often a primary ingredient in the most effective Ayurvedic medicines for asthma. Modern clinical studies have affirmed the efficacy of sunth, with research showing that it can reduce allergic symptoms through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, even working directly on the smooth airway muscles as a natural broncho-relaxant
When talking about Ayurvedic herbs that support respiratory health it’s impossible not to mention kalonji. The herb is noted for its medicinal properties and is regarded as an effective remedy for asthma. There is some evidence from studies showing that the herb can help improve asthma symptoms, reducing inflammation and improving air flow.
Regarded as a rasayana, jyeshtimadhu is widely used in Ayurved to treat both respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders. The herb is known to exhibit anti-inflammatory activity, which can help lower the risk of asthma attacks and other bronchial conditions. Studies have also found it to be particularly effective in the treatment of asthma, showing significant anti-allergenic effects. While jyeshtimadhu can be consumed as a supplement, you can also try using any Ayurvedic medicine for asthma that contains the ingredient
Tulsi remains one of the most revered herbs in India for both its spiritual and medicinal significance. It has been used in Ayurvedic remedies to treat a wide range of ailments from gastrointestinal conditions and stress disorders to asthma. Studies have revealed a variety of actions including antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-allergic, immunomodulatory, anti-asthmatic, and adaptogenic activities, which can also help in dealing with asthma.
Ayurvedic Lifestyle Remedies for Asthma
Although high intensity exercises can trigger asthma attacks in many individuals, physical activity is regarded as essential for wellbeing in Ayurved. Yoga is perhaps the best form of exercise, especially schools like hatha yoga or kundalini yoga. Such mild or low intensity activity has been shown to offer tremendous benefits for asthmatics, with several studies highlighting a reduction in the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.
Although breathing exercises or pranayamas are an integral part of yoga, they are often overlooked in favor of physical activity or the asanas. As an asthma patient however, it is advisable that you also focus on these yogic breathing exercises as they offer tremendous respiratory health benefits. Research has shown that the practice can enhance lung function and it is even recommended as part of therapy for asthma patients. In the highlighted study, researchers used pranayamas like brahmari and omkara, but you can also include others like kapalabhati.
Meditation is another practice that can be part of your yoga routine or practiced separately, but it’s one that you should make a point to learn. Meditation gives greater control over your breathing and emotions, allowing you to retain control even when you feel an attack coming on. The stress reduction effect is in itself powerful enough to help prevent asthma attacks, which are often triggered by stress or anxiety. Studies show that meditation can bring about significant improvements in quality of life for asthma patients.
Keep in mind that the list of herbs provided here is not comprehensive. Other herbs with proven efficacy for asthma include the likes of elaichi, lavang, jatamansi, jayphal, nagkesar, and tejpatra, among others. When using herbal remedies or Ayurvedic medications to treat asthma, make sure to use them consistently for at least a few months at a time. If your condition does not improve at all within this time, it would be best to consult a skilled Ayurvedic practitioner as you may need more personalized recommendations.
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