Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD or Emphysema, is a disease which causes difficulty in breathing and usually gets worse over time. Symptoms include cough with a large amount of expectoration, wheezing, breathlessness and a feeling of tightness in the chest. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. In addition, long-term exposure to other lung irritants such as air pollution, chemical fumes or dust, may also contribute to COPD. This condition is a major cause of disability and a leading cause of death.
The Ayurvedic treatment of COPD is aimed at relieving the symptoms, slowing down the progress of the disease, improving exercise tolerance, preventing and treating complications and improving overall health. Medicines like Shwas-Kuthar-Ras, Sitopaladi-Churna, Talisadi-Churna, Gojivhadi-Qadha, Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra), Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Pippali (Piper longum), Som (Ephedra vulgaris), Kantakari (Solanum xanthocarpum), Kushtha (Alpimia galangal), Vasa (Adhatoda vasaka) and Behada (Terminalia bellerica) are used to reduce cough and breathlessness. Medicines which act on the ‘Rakta’ dhatu (tissue) are useful in this condition. These include Patol (Tricosanthe dioica), Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Patha ( Cissampelos pareira), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Triphala (Three fruits) and Nimba (Azadirachta indica).
A special course of Pippali, boiled in milk, is used in a gradually increasing and then decreasing dose. This course usually lasts for 19 days. Repeated such courses are given with gaps of a few days in between. This treatment helps to improve the damage in the lungs and also helps repair the mucous membrane which lines the respiratory tract. Other medicines like Abhrak Bhasma, Laghu-Malini-Vasant, Madhu-Malini-Vasant, Suvarna-Malini-Vasant and Chyawanprash are also used to slow the progress of the disease, reduce lung damage and improve overall health.
Additional measures like quitting of smoking, avoiding lung irritants, breathing exercises like Pranayam, and Yogasanas can help in reducing the symptoms of this condition. It is important to start treatment early in the course of this disease in order to reduce disability and the risk of mortality.