How Effective Is Ayurveda To Treat Bronchitis Naturally?Dr. Surya Bhagwati
Respiratory diseases are among the most common of all ailments, affecting most of us from time to time. While conditions like the cough and common cold can be easily dealt with, bronchitis is a lot more severe and can require more intensive treatment. It is an inflammatory condition in which there is swelling or inflammation of the airways or bronchial tubes, restricting airflow to the lungs. This gives rise to symptoms like coughing, congestion, wheezing, breathlessness or difficulty breathing, and fatigue. These symptoms are also common to asthma or bronchial asthma, but the difference is in the underlying cause. While asthma causes are not clearly understood but are regarded as genetic and environmental, bronchitis can be caused by infections and exposure to airborne pollutants or smoking.
The Ayurvedic Perspective of Bronchitis & Asthma
In Ayurveda, there is no specific term to describe the condition of bronchitis and it may be recognized as the same disease as asthma or svasa roga. In fact classical texts like the Charak Samhita describe 5 different types svasa roga, covering asthmatic and bronchial conditions. The causes and progression of the diseases are recognized as different, although the symptoms are common to all. Aside from the classification of the disease, Ayurvedic insights are well aligned with modern scientific perspectives of bronchitis.
These ancient texts highlight the same risk factors and also recognize that bronchitis can be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is a temporary illness that usually surfaces following infection with a respiratory disease like the common cold or flu. This can last for days or weeks causing discomforting symptoms, but it eventually resolves with treatment. Chronic bronchitis on the other hand can persist indefinitely, causing persistent congestion, coughing, wheezing, and severe breathing difficulties. The severity and frequency of symptoms tends to fluctuate with changing seasons and other environmental factors.
Where Ayurveda differs from western medicine is in its understanding and recognition of the natural energy forces or doshas in nature and the human body. Kapha aggravation is believed to be at the root of bronchitis, as it spreads and obstructs vata, also vitiating the channels of prana or lifeforce – ergo respiration. As with asthma, the Ayurvedic treatment of bronchitis therefore focuses on restoration of your optimal balance of doshas and pacification of kapha. Management of bronchitis also requires the use of herbal medications to reduce inflammation, reduce congestion, and ease respiration. Stress reduction practices, breathing exercises, and panchakarma therapy are also integral to the Ayurvedic treatment of bronchitis.
Efficacy of Ayurvedic Medicine for Asthma Bronchitis
There is growing evidence to support the use of Ayurvedic medicine for asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory disorders. Although modern science does not recognize or understand many Ayurvedic concepts like doshas, clinical studies do show that Ayurvedic treatment protocols can be effective and here are some of the treatments and remedies that are backed by research.
Ayurvedic Herbal Medicines for Bronchitis
Herbs occupy a central role in Ayurveda and almost every Ayurvedic medicine for asthma or bronchitis is prepared from herbs. Whether you plan to make your own home treatments or use readymade Ayurvedic bronchitis medications, you should look for herbs like haridra, sunth, kalonji, lavang, jyeshtimadhu, bans kapur, and mulehati. Haridra and sunth are the best choices for home remedies, as they’re to be found in every kitchen. Both herbs are renowned for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which can reduce bronchial inflammation to ease airflow. Studies attribute haridra’s health benefits to the presence of curcumin, while studies show that sunth works directly on the smooth airway muscle, reducing constriction of the bronchi. Similarly, kalonji and jyesthimadhi have both shown efficacy as natural anti-inflammatories to relieve bronchitis and asthma. Herbs like mulehati, on the other hand, can help by lowering the risk of inflammation and symptom aggravation that occurs as a result of exposure to triggers.
Ayurvedic Inhalers for Bronchitis
Aromatherapy may be a separate and independent discipline, but it has also been a part of Ayurveda for millennia. The importance of natural fragrances and essential oils for respiratory function and other health benefits is clearly documented in leading Ayurvedic texts and treats. Not surprisingly, aromatic herbs and their oil extracts have a role to play in the management of bronchitis. Some of the best Ayurvedic herbs for bronchitis include pudina, eucalyptus, sandalwood, and brahmi, among others. Evidence from clinical studies suggests that eucalyptus and pudina can be helpful in the treatment of acute or infectious bronchitis, not just relieving airway inflammation, but also helping fight the infections through their antibacterial activity. Sandalwood and brahmi work indirectly to help manage bronchitis by lowering stress levels and through a sedative effect, thereby lowering the risk of symptom flare ups. You can use these herbal essential oils with diffusers or to keep things simple, simply look for an Ayurvedic inhaler that contains some of these ingredients.
Ayurvedic Lifestyle Remedies for Asthma
In addition to herbal Ayurvedic medicines for bronchitis, there are other practices that are essential for complete recovery. Dietary changes should be aimed at pacifying kapha, lowering ama, and restoring the natural balance of doshas. As a general rule, this would require increased intake of light and dry foods, while cold, oily, and fatty foods. Cold foods can also lead to further aggravation of kapha, so make sure to consume all your meals warm or hot. For a more detailed diet, look for a kapha pacifying diet or get personalized recommendations from an Ayurvedic physician. Lifestyle changes have an equally important role to play and it would be a good idea to take up yoga, making sure to include the practices of pranayama and meditation. Mild or low intensity exercise routines can improve cardiorespiratory function, reducing the risk of bronchial attacks. Similarly, pranayama and meditative practices can improve lung function, also lowering stress levels and giving you greater control over your breathing
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