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Asthma: Comparison Between Modern and Ayurvedic Approach

Dr. Charminder Kaur

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Treatment of asthma in ayurveda

1) Oleation therapy (Snehan): Apply sesame oil with a pinch of salt on the chest.

2) Sudation (Swedan): For an acute asthma attack take steam inhalation (draping a towel over your head and putting a bowl of hot water in front of you) with a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the water following oleation. Placing a hot towel wrung in salted water over the chest relaxes breathing muscles and restores normal breathing.

3) Emesis (Vaman): In ayurvedic therapy emesis is the most direct method of treating KAPHA. It is used to root out mucus seated deep inside the channels and tissues of body. A day prior to emesis, the patient should drink one cup of oil two to three times a day. This is done to aggravate KAPHA. A day later Vaman is given in morning. The patient is advised to drink decoction of licorice and honey or Pippali with salt and honey. Vomiting is induced if it doesn’t happen gradually and then the patient is allowed to rest. Patient’s age should be kept in mind before proceeding with Vaman and therefore should be conducted under medical supervision only.

4) Ayurvedic compounds useful in asthma:
a) Shringyadi churn: 2-5 gms with honey or dashmool kwath (decoction).
b) Shwas kuthar ras: 125-250 mg thrice a day with honey
c) Shwas chintamani ras: 125-250 mg thrice a day with honey
d) Shwas kaschintamani ras: 125-250 mg thrice a day with honey
e) Talisasdi churn: 2-5 gms with honey

5) Yoga and asthma:
The Sanskrit word for breath is "prana" which also means life force. With prana it implies that control of the breath is crucial for optimal health and well-being. Several studies have shown yoga to be a powerful adjunct therapy to reduce the frequency and intensity of asthma attacks as well as to decrease medication use. Breathing exercises are extremely helpful for asthmatics, because they:

  • Strengthen respiratory muscles
  • Eliminate inefficient use of accessory muscles of respiration (such as abdominal or neck muscles)
  • Replace forceful breathing, which compresses airways, with relaxed breathing
  • Can reduce hyperventilation by increasing expiration
  • Can reduce the sensation of breathlessness by increasing the functioning of the diaphragm
  • Can enhance clearing of airways
  • Efficient posture to sit while an acute attack of asthma occurs is to sit leaning forward with head on arms and arms resting on a table.
  • Increases the lung’s airflow, air capacity, stamina and efficiency
  • Yoga reduces stress, physical tension, and muscle tightness
  • It increases the feelings of well-being and activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Back bending postures open the chest improving both lung and heart functioning. Practice upper back bends and chest opening postures if it is harder to exhale during asthma attacks.
  • Practice forward bends and lower back bending poses if it is more difficult to inhale. Inverted postures drain excess mucus from the lungs and balance the immune system.

Jalandhar Bandh

1) Indication: Jalandhar Bandh regulates the circulatory and respiratory systems.

2) Contraindication: Jalandhar Bandh is contraindicated in high blood pressure and heart disease.

3) Posture: Sit in a comfortable posture with both legs crossed. Palms should be kept on knees facing it. Spinal cord (back bone) should be straight and erect, chest bone (sternum) lifted and shoulders relaxed.

4) Procedure: Close your eyes slowly while you breath deeply till you fill almost 2/3 rd of your lung capacity. Hold your breath within. Let the chin rest on the cave of your chest bone (sternum). Draw your shoulders forward as if blocking the air within. Hold the air within till at ease with all the abdominal muscles pulled inside. Bring your chin back to normal posture with neck erect, draw your shoulders back to place, let loose the abdominal muscles and exhale softly.

5) Advice: Repeat this at least for 5 minutes 2-3 times. Gradually increase to 5-10 times, and hold the breath within for at least 5 minute’s stat.

Pranayam exercises increase the amount of air we take in; they also increase our intake of Prana (oxygen).

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