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Asthma: Comparison Between Modern and Ayurvedic Approach

Dr. Charminder Kaur

Asthma is a frightening condition. It is a hypersensitivity reaction causing bronchospasm, swelling of the mucous membranes and increased bronchial mucous secretion leading to respiratory distress. Asthma is a reversible inflammatory airway disease. Ayurvedic treatment can help cure asthma and give relief during an asthmatic attack.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease involving recurrent breathing problems.
Asthma has been described in Charaka Samhita as shwas roga. It is due to an hypersensitivity response to dust, smoke, excessive cold, excessive exertion, excessive s*x, intake of dry, cold food at different hours of day not in terms with daily need and as an adjuvant to diarrhoea, fever, emesis, chest pain and anaemia.

Mucus usually is a by-product of digestion. When digestion is weak excess mucus will become apparent in the mucus secreting tissues of the body. These include the lungs, which need lubrication to counteract the drying effect of normal respiration. This broad concept of mucus describes a sticky, lubricating secretion found not only in lungs but also in many tissues and organs of body. This concept is basically of ayurveda and coincides with the KAPHA or water humor in ayurvedic medicines. Ayurveda believes that mucus is a by-product of digestion hence it locates a chair for KAPHA in stomach. As mucus stagnates, it produces AMA. AMA deposits in lungs, blocks lungs, bronchioles and sinuses hence developing difficulty in breathing and in turn asthma.

Asthma is a frightening condition. It is a hypersensitivity reaction causing bronchospasm, swelling of the mucous membranes and increased bronchial mucous secretion leading to respiratory distress. Asthma is a reversible inflammatory airway disease.

Symptoms

Ayurveda has described 5 broad classifications of asthma on basis of symptoms:

1) Maha shwas: It is described as a condition in which a patient falls completely breathless, makes wheezing sound so as to gulp maximum air, a condition comparable to dyspnoea. In severe attack, a person is able to say only few words without stopping for breath. However wheezing might stop gradually since hardly any air moves in and out of lungs. Confusion, lethargy and blue skin color reflect the severity of condition.

2) Urdhv shwas: On modern lines it is described as stertorous breathing, a patient has to inspire and expire forcefully.

3) Chin shwas: This is compared to Cheyne Stokes respiration. This is described as periodic breathing where periods of hyperpnoea (fast breathing) alternate with periods of hyponoea (slow breathing) or apnoea (no breathing).

4) Tamak shwas: This is compared to bronchial asthma. The attacks are very frequent and severe. The patient feels shortness of breath, coughing and tightness of chest. The patient sits upright, leans forward and uses both chest and neck muscles to help in breathing.

5) Shudra shwas: This type is described as dyspnoea on effort. Breathlessness that follows exertion, cold dry food and physical exercises.

Treatment of asthma on modern lines

1) Beta-adrenergic receptor agnist: These are the best drugs to relieve sudden attacks of asthma even that caused by exercises. These bronchiod- ilators stimulate beta-adrenergic receptors and open-air pathways.

2) Theophylline: Is another conv- entional treatment to cause bronchiodilation.

3) Corticosteroids: They block the inflammatory response of the body and are exceptionally effective in treating asthma.



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