Asthma is characterized by the inflammation of the bronchial airways leading to increased mucus production. In the preliminary stage of asthma the patient may complain of indigestion,constipation and tightness in the chest. The result factor of this condition includes episodes of sneezing, coughing and wheezing, indicating the attempt of the body to remove the congested phlegm that has blocked the respiratory passages from the nose to the lungs.
Studies conducted over the years has shown that the lipid preparation from various plants containing sterols and sterolins have positive anti-inflammatory activity.
The antioxidant properties of these plants have also demonstrated to have an enhancing effect on the immune system.
Ayurvedic medical science dates back to more than 5,000 years. Bronchial asthma is described in the ancient writing on ayurveda as early 7th AD. The works of Caraka, Susruta and Vagbatha senior refer to this condition as ‘Tamaka Shvasa’.’Tama’ meaning darkness and ‘Shvasa as breath,hence ‘Tamaka Shvasa’ meaning disorder of the breath that occurs at night.Allegororically, this term also indicates that the disease comes in episodes.
Ayurveda defines the root causes of asthma and its contributing as follows:
Susruta an ayurvedic physician has stated that bronchial asthma is influenced by the following factors.
1.Adi-bala-pravritta:- Defect in the spermatozoon or the ovum of the respective parents (Genetic inheritance)
2. Dosha-bala-pravritta:- That which is originated due to improper diet, unhealthy habits,those which originates from the stomach or intestines.
3. Kala-bala-pravritta:- This is a seasonal type, produced by the variation in the atmospheric temperature or humidity.
4. Daiya-bala-parvritta:- This is a providential type. Brought about by malignant influence such as infection, allergens and emotional stress.
5. Swabhava-bala-pravritta:- The natural type that which comes with old age. Bronchial asthma is therefore caused by genetic factor, improper digestion and diet, environmental stress in the form of allergens and weather changes.
Ayurveda stresses that the above trigger factors can change the normal physiology thereby leading or worsening the asthmatic symptoms.
Further ayurveda extols that improper food and nutrients as a major trigger mechanism. Due to this reason ayurveda has greatly emphasized on diet restrictions.
Susruta is of the opinion that these improper diets can increase the production of Kapha.This terminology “Kapha” corresponds to the basic plasma of the body and is primarily a water constituent produced in the stomach and later distributed by the lungs and heart.
An over production of this constituent and its accumulation in the tissues can eventually lead to many chronic types of hypersensitive and allergic reactions in the physiology. The later is carried through the channels and directly into the chest and the lungs.This collections in the airways causes an imbalance whereby causing inflammations to irritate the lining of the lungs.
Ayurvedic science explains that this Avlambak Kapha that which predominates in the chest becomes a trigger element for an asthmatic attack. The toxin and impurities produced from this condition, causing great distress to the epithelium becomes another trigger in the causative factor
of asthma.
Medically we know today that the epithelium produces certain chemicals that will help to inhibit bronchoconstriction. This natural inhibitory effect is lost when there is an imbalance in the lungs.
Ayurvedic Approach To Treating And Managing Asthma.
Bronchial asthma has to be managed differently in the acute and chronic phase. In the acute phase, the goal of the treatment is to relieve the distress in breathing. In the later phase, step are to be taken to eradicate the disease.
Clinically, two types of patients are seen to present with bronchial asthma. One category of patients are strong and the other weak. The treatment protocol has to be decided depending on the type of the patient.
Treatment of bronchial asthma may be summarized as follows:
A mixture of medicated oil mixed with salt is applied on the chest and the back of the patient followed by hot fomentation. This procedure liquefies the phlegm and makes it removable.
Ideally, mild emesis is to be induced following the fomentation and thereafter purgatives are to be administered systematically. In weak patients, emesis may be avoided and only a mild purgation introduced.
Laxatives can reduce the intra-abdominal pressure and ease breathing. It can also help remove the mucus in the external passages that has been mobilized by fomentation.Nasal drops are prescribed to clear the nasal blockages. Pinasam in ayurveda as what we term as sinusitis is a trigger mechanism in asthma. Study has proven that 79 percent of individuals with asthma also demonstrated chronic rhino sinusitis.
Thereafter herbal medications in the form of decoctions are administered. To ease breathing,medicated powders mixed with honey is advised.
Electuaries are prescribed to scrape the residual mucus in the respiratory tract. This will also greatly reduce the inflammation in the airways.
In the final stage, medicines that help nourish the tissues are administered. This medications have the property to strengthen the lungs and improve the resistance of the respiratory system.
A rejuvenation program with specific medications are helpful in fully balancing the total system in order to raise the level of the body’s immune system that has been subjected to the constant attack of kapha. During this period, the patient is kept on a strict dietary and behavioral regulations.
Herbs Used In The Management Of Asthma.
Piper Longum: It is significantly used to build up resistance against respiratory tract constriction and inflammation. It is known to enhance themogenic response. Taken over a period of time it builds a strong immunity against allergy.
Adhatoda Vasica: One of the frequently used herb for all chest diseases. It has been used in the management of allergic disorders and bronchial asthma. Research studies over the years has revealed that the alkaloids present in the leaves, vasicine and vasicinine, possess a powerful respiratory stimulant activity.
Thylophora Asthmatica: Alkaloids from this plant have been isolated and identified as tylophorine and tylophorinine. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and as expectorant. Tylopora may have a direct effect on the adrenal glands, thus increasing endogenous steroid production and anti-inflammatory activity.
Terminalia Chebula or Gall Nut: It is mainly used as a rejuvenative, laxative and as a expectorant. Alkaloids from this fruit contains chebulic and chebulinic and acts as an anthelminic.
These illustrated herbs are only part of the many herbs that are being used in the treatment of bronchial asthma. These herbs contain many compounds and they have multiple therapeutic and synergistic effects, which may include anti-inflammatory actions, bronchodilater effects and expectorant properties.
Asthma as we all know is a worldwide problem of serious concern. Over the years various
researches has offered significant insight into the pathophysiology of bronchial asthma, however
the scope for a permanent cure that could produce a long lasting relief is still an unknown factor.
While modern science that has been struggling to find a cause and a cure , ayurveda may hold the key to help address this medical problem.
Various studies of botanical approaches in treating asthma have yielded subjective improvements.
Amazingly ayurveda has made available a very sophisticated understanding of treating asthma at a time when there was limited scientific understanding.
To date modern research of this medical condition with the support of biochemistry of food has validated various ayurvedic concepts.
Researchers need to study the multiple interventions to obtain a positive representation of the usefulness of ayurvedic medical science in asthma.
The integration of ayurvedic science with modern medicine may be able to produce a meaningful and productive treatment in addressing asthma.

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