Asthma is termed as “Tamak Shwas” in Ayurveda. Most people with asthma learn to live with their problem, and modern treatment allows them to immediately limit and control the attack of asthma. The Ayurvedic herbal treatment of asthma is highly relevant today, since if used judiciously, it can significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of episodes of asthma.
For the sake of treatment, many physicians consider two types of asthma, the first with predominance of “Kapha”, and the second with predominance of “Vata”. Some also consider a third type which is associated more with “Pitta” dosha. The constitution of the patient is also taken into consideration while deciding the course of treatment for each individual patient.
During an attack of asthma, as per selection of patients according to the Ayurvedic principles, patients with a strong constitution are given induced vomiting ( Vaman), some are given induced purgation (Virechan), some are given smoke inhalation of various herbs. Patients with weak constitution are given oral medicated lubricants, medicated soups and medicines.
Some medicines which are useful in asthma are Kanakasav, Kantakaryavaleha, Yashtimadhu (Glycerrhiza glabra) compounds, and Sameerpannag. Some physicians use Mahanarayan (containing mainly Asparagus racemosus) oil and warm Yashtimadhu decoction every 5 – 10 minutes till the acute attack of asthma subsides.
It is believed that chronic inflammation of the lungs is the main cause of asthma, and various trigger factors lead to the acute attack. Therefore, the goal of treatment in between acute attacks is to reduce the lung inflammation, and to increase the immunity of the body on the whole, and the mucous membrane of the nose, throat and the lungs, in particular. Chausastha Pippali (treated Piper longum), or a course of medicine called “Vardhaman Pippali” is very much beneficial. Products containing Amalaki( Emblica officinalis ) like Chyawanprashavaleha, Dhatri avaleha and Bhallatak (Semicarpus anacardium ) products like Bhallatakasav are also used. Samasharkar Churna, Hingashtaka Churna, Karpuradi Churna, Rasa Parpati, and Sanjivani Vati are also used with good results. Several herbal combinations are available which contain effective medicines in tablet form, which can be taken orally easily. Patient selection is very important, since all medicines do not benefit all patients.
Patients usually have an aggravation of asthma with the onset of winter or monsoon (rainy season). Patients with a strong constitution can have induced vomiting done before the onset of these seasons, to avoid asthma attacks during these seasons. However, these procedures are best done by qualified and experienced physicians at well-equipped clinics.
All asthmatics should have an early and light evening meal. It is best to avoid known trigger factors and refrigerated and fermented food products. It is beneficial to use tolerable amounts of ginger and garlic in the daily diet.Several people benefit with the use of warm water for drinking. However, there are some patients who have an aggravation in asthma when acidity increases. Such patients should modify their diet accordingly, and may require different medicines altogether.