Asthma is “Swas roga” in Ayurveda. Ayurveda describes asthma as the combination of vitiated Pranvayu with deranged kapha dosha in the lungs causing obstruction in the respiratory passage. This obstruction results in gasping and labored breathing.
- Physical and psychological Stress at work
- Trauma to vital organs
Ayurvedic treatment of asthma
- Ayurveda follows three basic approaches towards treatment of asthma:
- Diet, nutrition and digestion
- Stress management and improved mental and emotional functioning
- Lifestyle and daily routine changes
The treatment is carried out during asthma attacks and in between asthma attacks. During attacks, chest massage with warm ‘til tail’ is done and fomentation is applied. Ayurvedic medicines are also given.
In between attacks, ‘rasayana chikitsa’ is done for respiratory system. Ayurvedic lung tonics, herbal medicines are given along with Ayurvedic diet, yoga and meditation. Asthma patients go for Panchakarma especially vaman chikitsa before the onset of monsoon.
Few common medicines suggested in Ayurveda for asthma treatment are Sitopaladi choorna, Vasavleha, Swaskuthar ras, etc.
Herbs used in asthma treatment
A number of natural herbs are available for maintaining lung health and keeping airways open. Some herbs commonly recommended by Ayurveda physicians for the treatment of asthma are Adhatoda vasica, Piper longum, Terminalia chebula etc. A few herbs commonly used are:
- Licorice (Glycrrrhiza glabra): It is used to restore breathing, and calm the breathing passageways.
- Adhatoda (Adhatoda vasica): leaves are used to treat asthma and act as bronchodilator and mild expectorant.
- Gingko (Gingko biloba): it is used to treat asthma and allergic reactions.
- Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara): it is used to treat asthma and other cough ailments as well.
- Turmeric (Curcma longa): it has a chemical called curcumin which acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent in acute and chronic asthma.
- Grindelia (Grindelia spp): it is used for the treatment of asthma and bronchitis.
- Some other herbs that have been used for the treatment of asthma are ephedra, garlic, red clover, lavender, ginseng, anise etc.
Herbal home remedies
A few herbal and home remedies for treatment of asthma are:
- A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction and honey is an excellent expectorant for asthma. This remedy should be taken once in the morning and once in the evening.
- 10 Garlic cloves boiled in 30 ml of milk taken once daily is an excellent remedy for initial stages of asthma.
- If honey is inhaled by the asthmatic patient, the breathing is easier and deeper.
- Juice of one lemon, diluted in one glass of water, taken with meals is beneficial for asthmatic patient.
- Juice of garlic mixed in 10-15 drops of warm water taken internally gives relief in asthma.
- ¼ cup of onion juice mixed with 1 tablespoon of honey and 1/8 tablespoon black pepper taken internally is beneficial for asthma.
- A mixture of licorice and ginger mixed together in one cup of water. ½ tablespoon of this mixture taken daily gives relief from asthma.
- A glass of 2/3 carrot juice and 1/3 spinach juice taken daily is effective remedy for asthma.
- Add 30-40 basil leaves in 1 liter of water and then strain the leaves. Drink this water throughout the day, it is an effective remedy for asthma.
- Honey consumed internally with dates, black resins and pippali is a good lung tonic and also thins down the mucus eliminating it from the respiratory tract.
- 5 grams of Indian gooseberry (Amla) mixed with 1 tablespoon of honey and consumed daily is an effective medicine for asthma and is also a good expectorant.
- During attacks, mustard oil with camphor is massaged over the chest for relief and also for loosening the mucus and making breathing easier.
- Inhaling steam with a few caraway seeds added to boiling water is also effective in dilating the bronchial passage and hence in relief from asthma during an attack.
Ayurveda treatment of asthma plays a vital role in the treatment and management of asthma. According to Ayurveda food should be properly digested while eating as incompletely digested food may produce toxins which may trigger asthmatic attacks. Healthy diet for asthmatic patients includes:
- Grains: intake of cereals, rice, nuts, starches, and vegetables offer protection against wheezing caused by asthma.
- Vitamins: foods rich in vitamin sources such as vitamin A, C and E are an essential diet for asthmatic patients.
- Fatty acids: foods such as olive oil, walnuts which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are good for asthmatic patients.
Foodstuffs that can trigger asthmatic reactions such as dairy products, sugar based foods should be avoided. They should avoid hot spices, red pepper, pickles, tea or coffee. Chilled foods or beverages should also be avoided as they may restrict the breathing passageways.
Asthmatic patients should have dinner at least 2 hours before going to bed. They should not over eat. They should eat slowly and chew the food properly. Asthmatics should take water at least after half an hour of taking meals.
Other Ayurvedic therapy for asthma
Other approaches towards asthma treatment are:
- Regular physical exercise
- Regular breathing exercise
Yoga or meditation is the perfect relaxant and allows for the loosening of the air passage ways to help better breathing. By regular exercise of Yogasana and Pranayama the constriction of bronchial tube gets very much reduced. It also increases the capacity of bronchial tubes.
Asanas and pranayama in Yoga have corrective, curative and strengthening effects on the condition of the lungs and bronchial linings.
- Thus for Ayurveda to be effective in the treatment of asthma, asthmatic patients have to take care of a combination of these things:
- Herbal remedies and herbal medicines
- Proper Ayurvedic diet
- Regular practice of selected yoga asanas, pranayama etc.
- Avoid straining nerves
Huntley A, Ernst E. Herbal medicines for asthma: a systematic review. Thorax An Int J Resp Med. 2000; 55: 925-929.
Graham MD, Blaiss MS. Complementary/alternative medicine in the treatment of asthma. Ann all. asthma Immunol. 2000; 85(6): 438-449.