Asthma is an inflammatory condition of the respiratory system in which the airways are narrowed with swelling and the accumulation of mucus resulting in wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing. The inflammation occurs in response to an allergen, cold air, excessive physical exertion or emotional stress.
Ayurvedic understanding of Asthma Condition
Asthma is known as Shwasa Roga in Ayurveda and its incidence is attributed to improper digestion. Undigested food produces toxins or Ama, as a result vitiated Vata circulates along the respiratory tract and excess Kapha gets accumulated in the airways blocking the channels.
Ayurveda describes 4 types of Asthma:
• Maha shwasaa characterized by heavy breathing,
• Urdhava shwasaa characterized by prolonged upward breathing,
• China shwasaa characterized by interrupted breath
• Tamak shwasaa characterized by darkness behind eyes.
Symptoms of Asthma
1. Coughing, especially in the night
3. Chest tightness and pain
4. Shortness of breath
Asthma attack is the sudden worsening of Asthma symptoms by tightening the muscles around the airways. In such cases the patient would experience severe wheezing, difficulty in talking and feeling of anxiety, a pale & sweaty face and blue lips or fingernails are also the symptoms of Asthma attack.
Causes of Asthma according to Ayurveda
Heavy diet, intake of excessive salt, intake of cold food, exposure to cold and damp areas, dust and smoke, cold baths results in Vata imbalances causing Asthma. Similarly, Kapha dosha is vitiated by the heavy consumption of non-vegetarian food, dietary food, banana and black grams etc.
Ayurvedic treatment for Asthma
Ayurveda treats asthma from its root, i.e., right from digestion. Before adopting a regimen to treat asthma, Ayurveda prescribes Shodhana or purification to expel excess doshas from their sites of accumulation. A right diet and some lifestyle changes follow the purification procedures to avoid further accumulation of toxins in the body. Vamana and Virechana karmas are the 2 purification therapies adopted to clear toxins from the body to treat Asthma. Vamana and Virechana are the actual treatments or ‘Pradhan karma’, they also require ‘purva karma’ or preparatory procedures to be carried out in advance.
Brief descriptions about the Ayurvedic procedures for detoxification are given below, the first two being purva karma.
• Snehana: Snehana, also called Oleation therapy, uses fatty products to lubricate the body administered either internally or externally in the form of oil massages.
• Swedana: Swedana is a method of inducing sweat to dilate the channels of the body and detach toxins from the tissues.
• Vamana: Vamana therapy is a medicated emesis therapy where in herbal medicines induce expulsion of toxins ( vitiated doshas especially Kapha dosha ) out of the body, through the oral cavity.
• Virechana: Virechana therapy is a medicated purification therapy in which the patient is given herbal medicines through the oral cavity, the medication acts internally to force the excretion of impurities which are brought from cellular level to gut level.
Diet and Lifestyle to treat Asthma
Ayurvedic therapies expel out all kinds of impurities from the body, after which, a proper diet and lifestyle is recommended to prevent the body from further getting affected by the condition.
⋅ Drink warm water
⋅ Consume more green leafy vegetables and fruits as they contain anti-oxidants
⋅ Eat a light dinner at least an hour before sleep
⋅ Practise breathing exercises and yoga to improve lung health
⋅ Heavy foods like cheese, curd, butter milk, creams, and banana
⋅ Greasy, fried foods and processed foods containing preservatives
⋅ Sour food
⋅ Excessive exercises