Asthma is a common long-term inflammatory disease of the airways of the lungs.It is a lung condition that can make your airways narrow, swell, and produce extra mucus, which causes breathing difficulties.some individuals may eventually grow out of asthma, while for others it is a life-long condition. Asthma can be a significant problem that interferes with daily life and may lead to an asthma attack, which can be life-threatening.
Asthma often runs in families and people who have allergies – especially those under the age of 16 – are at a higher risk.
In an asthma attack the muscles around your airways can become swollen and inflamed with increased mucus production resulting in one or more of the following symptoms: difficulty breathing, difficulty speaking, experiencing a wheeze, blue colour to the lips and feeling distressed
The pathophysiology of asthma is complex and involves airway inflammation, intermittent airflow obstruction, and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Asthma is associated with mast cells, eosinophils, and T lymphocytes. Mast cells release chemicals like histamine which in turn causes nasal stuffiness and dripping in cold or hay fever, constriction of airway in asthma, and itching in skin allergy. These cells along with other inflammatory cells cause airway inflammation , leading to airway hyper responsiveness and obstruction .
Asthma can be classified depending upon the cause
- Exercise-Induced Asthma
Individuals who exercise for brief periods of time, on the order of 15 to 20 min, commonly develop airway obstruction after the cessation of exercise. Obstruction usually begins 5 to 10 min after the completion of exercise and resolves in 1 to 4 hrs.
- Allergen-Induced Asthma
It results from the direct effects of mediators released from inflammatory cells as a consequence of clustering of IgE receptors on the surface of effector cells (Psora). Common allergens inducing asthma are cat allergen (Fel D1), house dust mite allergen (der P1), and tree and grass pollens.
- Virus-Induced Asthma
Many individuals with a history of asthma will be relatively asymptomatic until they contract a viral illness, when asthma may occur without other known inciting stimuli.
- Drug-Induced Asthma
Approximately 1% to 10% of patients with moderate-to-severe asthma have aspirin-induced asthma, which consists of symptoms of moderately severe airway obstruction, rhinorrhea, sneezing, tearing, dermal changes, and, in some patients, GI changes (cramping, nausea, or vomiting).Beta blocker medications such as propranolol can trigger asthma in those who are susceptible.
Cardioselective beta-blockers, however, appear safe in those with mild or moderate disease. Other medications that can cause problems in asthmatics are angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, aspirin, and NSAIDs.
- Acute Severe Asthma
Acute severe asthma is a more severe and prolonged version of an acute asthmatic episode.
- Chronic Stable Asthma
Chronic stable asthma is the name given to the syndrome characterized by episodes of asthmatic symptoms and airflow obstruction that recur.
- A triad of atopic eczema, allergic rhinitis and asthma is called atopy. The strongest risk factor for developing asthma is a history of atopic disease;with asthma occurring at a much greater rate in those who have either eczema or hay fever.Individuals with certain types of urticaria may also experience symptoms of asthma.
Symptoms of asthma
coughing − especially at night
wheezing − especially in the morning
finding it difficult to breathe
tightness in your chest
You may find that your symptoms flare up and then calm down again. They may also have specific triggers such as being around certain types of animal (for example cats or dogs) or pollen. When your symptoms flare up suddenly, this is called an ‘asthma attack’.
What Precautions to be taken for Asthma?
- Reduce the exposure of dust, pollen, pets etc, as these factors will trigger the asthma
- Use face mask while cleaning or in coming contact with dust or smoke
- Quit smoking as it will make the condition more worse
- Eat more of antioxidant rich food like , prunes, raisins, onion, strawberries, cherries, amla as they will help in building immunity & prevent body from infections
- A regular practice of yoga helps to gain control over the symptoms naturally without the use of drugs.
In terms of conventional treatment, the medication available can offer reasonable control of symptoms. Bronchodilator inhalers (available on prescription) such as Salbutamol (Ventolin) and Bricanyl (Terbutaline) are designed to act on the muscles of the airways and help the air flow through. You could think of the airways as tunnels, which narrow down when there is asthma. The bronchodilators are the workmen which widen the tunnel allowing greater flow of air (the traffic).
There are also steroid inhalers such as Becotide (Beclomethasone) and Pulmicort (Budesonide) which you could imagine to be the workmen who do the maintenance work in the tunnel preventing the build up of debris or do things which keep the tunnel nice and wide – they act by reducing the inflammation .
Sometimes people do not like the thought of taking these drugs and of the side effects that can occur. The side effects of Salbutamol are generally mild and steroids used short term rarely cause problems but the long term use of steroids even if inhaled may lead to potential problems if large doses are used.
Certain food helps in easing out the symptoms of asthma
- Fresh fruit and vegetables improve asthma. Study after study shows that diets low in fruit and vegetables increase the risk and severity of asthma so remember; always eat at least seven serves of fresh fruit and vegetable a day.
- Tomatoes contain large amounts of lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces asthma symptoms when eaten regularly. Lycopene is concentrated in sauces and cooked tomatoes with raw tomato providing smaller amounts.
- Raw honey contains bee pollen and propolis, both of which have anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, and expectorant properties – plus it improves immune system recovery. An open jar of raw honey placed under the nose of someone suffering an asthma attack can help them breathe more easily. As a preventative measure a teaspoon of raw honey can be either eaten or mixed in a glass of warm water and taken three times a day.
- Garlic is a well known natural antibiotic. It contains a mixture of compounds that have antibacterial and antifungal effects. It also reduces lung inflammation that accompanies asthma. It was once thought that garlic had to be eaten raw to obtain these benefits, but it is now known that cooked garlic works just as well.
- Ginger can break up the mucus that builds in the lungs and contributes to asthma – but it must be fresh. Make a ginger tea by combining two cups of boiling water with two tablespoons of shredded ginger Drink a cup of the tea once every two hours when asthma is a problem.
- Turmeric, among other things, is a natural anti-inflammatory that helps asthma and eczema. For best results drink one teaspoon of turmeric mixed into juice three times a day on an empty stomach.
- Peppermint can soothe the airways and break up mucous. Add a few drops into a bowl of steaming water and inhale. being careful not to burn yourself. Note: peppermint is a well known antidote of many homoeopathic remedies: avoid this tip if you are already using homoeopathy.
- Caraway or fennel seeds can also break up mucous. Add caraway seeds to a bowl of hot water and use as a steam inhalation. Fennel seeds can be chewed or eaten raw.
- Fish and fish oils rich in omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and improve allergies such as asthma, especially if the ratio to omega 6 fatty acids has been unbalanced by a diet heavy with foods such red meat, pork, dairy products and polyunsaturated oils.
Homeopathy is a branch of alternative medicine and one of the most effective ways to treat asthma .Homeopathy recognizes disease as a holistic disturbance and believes in totality and an individualistic approach where physical symptoms manifested in the body correlate to one’s mental and emotional state.
Unlike conventional medicine, homeopathy does not merely offer a palliative or symptomatic relief for asthma, but aims to permanently cure and rid the body of the disease.
Asthma like any other condition can be treated with homeopathy at various levels. The ideal would be to find the treatment, which reflects the Similimum of the case (or as near to the Similimum as possible). By Similimum, I mean the remedy that best matches the person not just in terms of his symptoms but also in terms of his psyche and the way that he relates to other people and to life generally. Thus individualising the patient would offer a deeper prospect of healing. However finding the Similimum may not always be possible and there are many remedies which may be given for the symptoms of asthma. There are also remedies that can be given for the causes of allergic asthma (homeopathic preparations of house dust mite, grasses and pollens etc).
Homoeopathic remedies for acute asthma with few indications:
- Antimonium tart: Great rattling in chest, with shortness of breath. Drowsiness. Asthma in elderly and children with difficulty to expectorate. The patient must sit up, with sensation as if not able to get enough air into the lungs.
- Arsenic alb: Asthma is worse from lying down with fear of suffocation and extreme restlessness. Attacks of asthma are worse during and after midnight. There are burning pains which is relieved by heat.
- Blatta orientalis: It is specific for asthma when the causative factor or triggers of asthma are lacking. Asthma with bronchitis and much pus-like mucus. During attack low potencies and mother tincture acts better.
- Carbo veg: Coldness of breath. Desperate cases of asthma with blue and cold skin. Air hunger with desire to be fanned rapidly. Better by eructations, worse from sitting or lying down. Weakness in chest as if could not get enough breath. Asthma reflex from accumulation of flatus in abdomen.
- Cuprum metallicum: Spasmodic asthma, constriction in throat, face gets blue and convulsions thereafter. Asthma brought on from mental emotions.
- Dulcamara: Humid asthma from a cold, worse during cold wet weather.
- Ipecac: Loses breath with cough. Difficult expiration. Cough is rattling and asthmatic. The patient gags when he coughs. Chest seems full of phlegm but does not yield to coughing.
- Kali carb: Asthma awakening the patient at night, especially worse in the morning 3-4 am. Asthma better from rocking. The only comfort the patient finds is by leaning forward with his elbows resting upon chair. There is rattling in chest with rattling cough worse in rainy weather
- Pulsatilla: Dyspnea worse night, evening, after dinner, lying on back. Respiration difficult worse from walking rapidly. Asthma after suppressed eruptions, from suppressed menses. This remedy is especially indicated in females of a mild, timid, sensitive or fretful disposition.
- Sambucus: Suffocative cough, coming at about midnight. Respiration obstructed when lying down. Asthma with suffocative attacks, maybe well when awake but sleeps into trouble. Snuffles in babies cannot breathe through nose.
- Spongia: Dryness of all air passages. Dry, barking, asthmatic cough. Respiration short, panting. Cough better by eating and drinking especially warm drinks. Asthmatic cough worse from cold air, lying with head low.
Initially homeopathic treatment may be used alongside conventional treatment but eventually we wish for a reduction in inhaler use and hopefully we can wean the patient off them provided that homeopathy gives a result as good or better than that obtained with inhalers.
If someone has asthma and they are already on conventional medicine ,It is strongly recommended that they do not stop their medication or alter it without consulting with a doctor. Stopping medication can result in a flaring up of the asthma and this may be confused with a homeopathic aggravation, or worse, it could potentialy be very serious.
Asthma is a condition for which I would highly recommend professional treatment .I strongly urge not to indulge in self medication .
Pls note -The treatment for these conditions is always based upon the constitution of the patient and the medicines vary for each patient, depending upon the particular symptoms. The remedies mentioned here should be taken only after consulting a homoeopath or health care professional .