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Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that can cause repeated episodes of cough, wheezing, and breathing difficulty. Asthma is a long-term condition affecting the airways.

According to Ayurveda, vitiation of Vata and Kapha doshas are responsible for Asthma. Kapha chokes the airway passage, and the flow of Vata is disturbed, resulting in asthma symptoms. The Ayurvedic treatment for Asthma focuses on removing the root cause of the airway obstruction and strengthening the airway muscles through Ayurveda medicines, diet recommendations, and lifestyle changes.

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Ayurvedic Perspective Of Asthma

Asthma in Ayurveda mentions in Pranavaha Sroto Vikara as Swasa comes under the category of diseases known as Dyspnoea(Difficult breathing)or in Sanskrit, Swasa Rog.

In the 17th chapter of the Charaka Samhita, there is a detailed description of shwasa and its five varieties.

In “Ashtanga Hridayam”, the description of asthma is similar to that in the Charak Samhita. Nothing that Vata is obstructed in its movement by Kapha, spreading in all direction, vitiates the channels of Prana ( respiration), udaka ( water) and anna ( food), located in the chest and produces shwasa, arising from the stomach.”

The main symptoms are “pain in the region of the heart and flanks, upward movement of prana (respiration), flatulence and splitting pain in the temples”.

Ayurvedic Interpretation of Symptoms

In Ayurveda, no two people are treated in the same way, so it is important to understand the different characteristics, which may manifest according to Vata type, Pitta type, and Kapha type symptoms.

  • Vata Type Asthma symptoms

    It presents itself with dryness and wheezing. Other symptoms may include thirst, dry mouth, dry skin, constipation, anxiety, and craving warm drinks. Vata type attacks occur during Vata times at dawn and dusk.

  • Pitta Type Asthma symptoms

    It presents itself with coughing, wheezing, but with yellow phlegm. There may be fever, sweating, irritability, and a need for cold air. Attacks occur during the Pitta times of day, noon and midnight.

  • Kapha Type Asthma symptoms

    It presents itself with coughing and wheezing with abundant white or clear phlegm or mucous. Instead of wheezing, there will be a railing sound produced by fluid in the lungs. Attacks occur during the Kapha time of day, morning and, evening.

Causes Of Asthma

The causes of Asthma may vary from person to person. Some of the factors are as follows.

  • Allergens

    Pollen from trees, grass, indoor and outdoor mold, dander from the skin, hair, or feathers of animals, dust mites found in household dust cockroaches.

  • Irritants

    Cold air and changes in weather, air pollutants, cigarette smoke, chemical fumes in household products and paint, odors from cooking, scented products,

  • Diet

    Dietary habits that include junk food, fast foods, foods such as shrimp, dried fruits, processed potatoes, beer, and wine that may include sulfites, preservatives, and additives, a diet with insufficient fruits, vegetables, fiber, minerals, and other nutrients. Gastro esophageal reflux disease may also worsen asthma symptoms, especially at night.

Some of the risk factors for asthma are:

  • Allergic conditions in the family
  • Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  • Viral respiratory illness during childhood
  • More exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Obesity
  • Exposure to air pollution or burning biomass
  • Infections like cold or Flu.

SUMMARY

The most common things in the environment that trigger asthma attacks are exercise, allergens, irritants, and viral infections. While those that have a parent or a sibling may be more likely to be affected by asthma, there is no single cause of asthma, and there may be many contributing factors including the risk factors mentioned above.

Different Types Of Asthma

According to the ancient Ayurvedic text, the Charak Samhita, there are five types of asthma: Maha Shwasa, Urdhva Shwasa, Chinna Shwasa, Tamaka Shwasa, and Ksudra Shwasa. Among these five types, the first three are not curable. ‘Tamak-shwasa is controllable and is difficult to cure. The last one is curable.

  • Maha Shwasa (Major Dyspnoea)

    This type of shwasa is marked by strenuous, painful inspiration with loud noises or sounds that are audible. Due to the vitiated Vayu moving haphazardly blocking the channels in the body, the person breathes in with difficulty throughout the day and night.

  • Urdhva Shwasa (Expiratory Dyspnoea)

    This is a type of shwasa in which there is an imbalance between the process of inhaling and exhaling air. The Kapha blocks the channels. As a result, the Vayu gets aggravated and causes Urdhva Svasa.

  • Chinna Shwasa (chine stroke breathing)

    This type of swasa manifests with the obstructed type of breathing which is severely distressing and painful. When all the prana(life elements)have been blocked and choked in the body due to obstruction of channels, the person interruptedly in splits and parcels.

  • Tamaka Shwasa (Bronchial Asthma)

    As per the Ayurveda Bronchial Asthma is Vata Kaphaja disease, it begins in the stomach, progresses to the lungs and bronchi. It leads to recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, tightness of the chest, and cough particularly at night or early morning. Hence treatment aims to move the excess Kapha back to the stomach and then eliminate it.

  • Kshudra Shwasa (Minor Dyspnoea)

    This type of shwasa is characterized by short spells of dyspnoea which is not troublesome. It is generally an accompaniment of strenuous exercises and will pacify after a brief span of rest. The main cause of this type of asthma is the consumption of dry foods (ruksha ahara) or exercise or physical activities.(aayasa)It affects the upper channels of respiration and causes kshudra shwasa.

Causes of Tamaka Swasa

As per Ayurveda, the causes of Tamaka Swasa are as follows:

  • Intake of dry, cold, heavy, incompatible food and irregular intake of food.
  • Excessive Intake of black gram, beans, sesame, the meat of aquatic animals.
  • Intake of cold water and exposure to cold climate.
  • Exposure to dust, smoke, and wind.
  • Excessive exercise, overindulge in the sexual activity.
  • Trauma to throat, chest, and vital organs.
  • Suppression of natural urges.


Tamaka shwasa is of two types namely Pratamaka shwasa and Santamaka shwasa. Pratamaka shwasa is associated with fever, fainting, distention of the abdomen, and indigestion. San Tamaka shwasa is increased during night and pacified by taking a cold regimen.

SUMMARY

Asthma causes the airways to become inflamed and swollen, reducing the amount of air that can pass in and out of the lungs. However, there are different types of asthma, and each has its own set of triggers. They are Maha Shwasa, Urdhva Shwasa, Chinna Shwasa, Tamaka Shwasa, and Ksudra Shwasa.

Ayurvedic Home Remedies

Here are some Ayurvedic home remedies that could help in reducing the symptoms of asthma and controlling the frequency of asthma attacks.

  • Ginger and Garlic Cloves

    Ginger is one of the most trusted herbs when it comes to dealing with inflammation. Half a cup of Ginger tea mixed with 2-3 crushed garlic cloves could prove to be an effective remedy to release the Kapha accumulation in the airways, thereby preventing asthmatic attacks.

  • Ginger and Turmeric Powder

    Boil a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger in a glass of milk and add 1/2 teaspoon of Turmeric powder to it. If taken twice a day, this ayurvedic remedy could reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.

  • Cinnamon and Honey

    Mix one teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4th teaspoon trikatu into a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 10 minutes and add 1 teaspoon of honey before drinking. Take this twice a day for maximum benefits.

  • Licorice and Ginger

    Licorice is also loaded with anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking a tea made with half teaspoon licorice and half teaspoon of ginger for managing asthma and its symptoms.

  • Bay leaf

    Half teaspoon of bay leaf and 1/4th teaspoon of pippali mixed with 1 teaspoon of honey taken two to three times a day may also help prevent chronic symptoms of asthma.

  • Turmeric

    A teaspoonful of turmeric powder with a glass of milk if taken empty stomach, two or three times a day is very effective in the treatment.

  • Bitter Gourd Root

    A teaspoon of the root paste, mixed with an equal amount of honey or juice of the holy basil, is an excellent expectorant and is a remedy for asthma.

  • Indian Gooseberry (Amla)

    Five grams of gooseberry fruit or dry powder mixed with one tablespoonful of honey, forms an effective medicinal expectorant and tonic. Taking it every morning is recommended.

  • Mustard Oil

    During the attack, mustard oil mixed with a little camphor should be massaged over the chest. This will loosen up the phlegm and ease breathing.

Ayurvedic Remedies For Asthma

Agastya Rasayana and Chyawanprash are well-known as effective herbal medicines for asthma treatment.

  • Chyawanprash

    Chyawanprash which is a rich source of Vitamin C generally taken in doses of one teaspoonful thrice a day. It can be taken along with Sitopaladi Churna and honey for better results.

  • Agastya Rasayana

    Agastya Rasayana is generally recommended if asthma causes constipation. Ayurvedic therapists recommend a combination of honey, black pepper, and onion juice as an effective home remedy to relieve asthma.

Ayurveda Treatment For Asthma

The treatment for asthma in Ayurveda involves determining the doshic imbalance.

The treatment modalities include panchakarma, external therapies, and internal medications, Activities, Advice of food, and lifestyle changes.

Panchakarma – Vamana, Virechana

Virechana and Vamana are the two most common Panchakarma procedures for very effective treatments for Asthma in Ayurveda.

Vamana

Vamana herbs such as licorice, sweet flag, and emetic nut were consumed by the patient. These herbs induce therapeutic vomiting that removes the imbalanced Dosha over the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Virechana

The patient is made to consume herbal cleansing preparations that bring toxin elimination through the anal route make sure the well-being of the patient.

Externally - Lavanakta Thaila (oil with has Rock Salt in it) Abhyanga and Sweda for chest and back, Lepa, Shiro Dhara.

Internally,

  • Agni Deepana (Improve appetite)
  • Ama Pachana (Digestives)
  • Vata Anulomana (Herbs to balance the flow of Vata)
  • Pitta and Kapha balancing herbs

Rasayana Therapy

It strengthens the respiratory system and digestion. After the panchakarma treatment, patients are provided with oral medicines along with diet regulation.

Rasayana therapy builds immunity, avoids recurrence, re-establishes the normal functioning of the body, and helps to fight disease for a long time.

Specific Dos and Don’ts:

  • Do’s (Pathya)

    Godhuma (wheat), Old rice, Mudga (green gram), Kulattha (Horse gram), Yava (barley), Patola (snake gourd) Use of Garlic, Turmeric, Ginger, Black pepperü Lukewarm water, Goat milk, Honey Respiratory exercise, Pranayama, Yogaü .

  • Don’ts (Apathya)

    Heavy, cold diet, Masha (black gram), Deep-fried items, Mustard leaves, Fish Exposure to Cold & Humid atmosphere Sweets, Chilled water, Stored food items, Curd Suppression of natural urges Excessive physical exertion Exposure to Smoke, Dust and fumes, Pollutants and Pollen.

Yoga and Meditation

Yoga improves the strength, flexibility, and capacity of the lungs. It emphasizes conscious breathing and includes relaxation. Yoga is taught along with pranayama, which emphasizes the awareness and control of breath.

Pranayama develops respiratory capacity by moving and strengthening the diaphragm, increasing the lung air capacity, flexibility of lung tissue, pleura, and trachea.

Preventive Measures:

Some of the preventive measures are as follow:

  • Identify asthma triggers and symptoms

    In order to prevent an asthma attack, we must have awareness about some causes. These include,

    1. Air pollution

    2. Allergies

    3. Cold air

    4. A cold or flu virus

    5. Sinusitis

    6. Smoke

    7. Fragrances

  • Stay Away From Allergens

    If you have allergies and asthma, it’s important to keep your distance from allergens (things you’re allergic to). Allergen exposure can increase the inflammation in your airways for a while, making an attack more likely.

  • Avoid Smoke of Any Type

    Smoke and asthma are a bad mix. Limit exposure to all sources of smoke, including tobacco, incense, candles, fires, and fireworks. Don’t allow smoking in your home or car, and avoid public places that permit it. If you smoke cigarettes, get help to quit. Smoking always makes asthma worse.

  • Prevent Colds

    Avoid close contact with people who have a cold or the flu, because catching it will make your asthma symptoms worse. Wash your hands well if you handle items that someone with a respiratory infection may have touched.

  • Allergy-Proof Your Home

    Whether you’re at home, work, or traveling, there are things you can do to allergy-proof your environment and lower your chances of an asthma attack. Don’t eat in restaurants that are smoky or allow cigarette smoking. Reserve a smoke-free hotel room. If you can, bring your own bedding and pillows in case the hotel only supplies feather pillows and down comforters. They can house dust mites and cause asthma symptoms.

  • Get Your Vaccinations

    Get a flu shot every year to protect against the flu virus, which can worsen your asthma for days or weeks. Asthma makes you more likely to have complications from the flu, like pneumonia, and to be hospitalized because of it.

  • Consider Immunotherapy Allergy Shots

    If your doctor finds that you have allergies, allergy shots (immunotherapy) may help prevent allergy symptoms and keep your asthma from getting worse. With allergy shots, the doctor injects small doses of allergens under your skin on a regular schedule. Over time, your body may get used to the allergen and respond less when you’re exposed. This can help keep your asthma under control.

  • Take Asthma Medications as Prescribed

    Long-term asthma medications are designed to prevent symptoms and attacks. You need to take them every day, even if you don’t have symptoms. They’ll ease inflammation in your airways and keep your asthma under control, so it’s less likely to flare up. If side effects bother you, talk to your doctor about switching to another treatment.

  • Follow Your Asthma Action Plan

    Take your medicines, even when you feel OK. If you notice symptoms, check your plan for instructions on what medications to take. During an attack, the plan can tell you what meds will help and when it’s time to call the doctor.

  • Use a Home Peak Flow Meter

    The meter shows how well air is moving through your lungs. During an attack, your airways become narrow. The meter can let you know this is happening hours or days before you have any symptoms. This gives you time to take the medications listed in your treatment plan and possibly stop the attack before it starts.

SUMMARY

According to Ayurveda, vitiation of Vata and Kapha doshas are responsible for Asthma. Kapha chokes the airway passage, and the flow of Vata is disturbed, resulting in asthma symptoms. The Ayurvedic treatment for Asthma focuses on removing the root cause of the airway obstruction and strengthening the airway muscles through Ayurveda medicines, diet recommendations, and lifestyle changes.

Conclusion

The above information is collected from various ayurvedic texts and resources. Always take the advice of an Ayurvedic doctor before starting self-medication.

SUMMARY

References: 17th chapter of the Charaka Samhita Ashtanga Hridayam.

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