Asthma - A Chinese Medicine Perspective
What is Asthma
Asthma is one of the most widespread chronic respiratory diseases, affecting approximately 300 million sufferers worldwide, and its incidence and severity have been continually increasing .
It is a common chronic diseases in adults, with a multifactorial aetiology that is characterised by chronic airway inflammation, hyper-responsiveness, and reversible airway obstruction .
Researchers have demonstrated that acupuncture might facilitate the prevention and treatment of asthma via its anti-inflammatory effects . Nurwati, et al., reported that “Acupuncture has been shown to modulate Th1/Th2 balance, block inflammatory cells and mediators, improve airway remodelling, and regulate hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function. Acupuncture appears to exert its anti-asthmatic properties through multiple pathways” .
Asthma is characterised by symptoms of wheezing, dyspnea, and cough . Furthermore, there may also be additional symptoms such as chronic breathlessness, difficulty in inhalation/exhalation , depression, oedema of ankles, cold limbs, lower backache, dizziness and others .
How Does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) view Asthma
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) asthma is viewed within the categories of breathlessness, wheezing and cough . Its aetiologies may be of both external origin or internal pathology. In chronic adult asthma, internal pathologies are most common and are usually associated with the Lungs, Kidneys and Spleen, however, external factors such as Wind, may also trigger asthma.
According to Maciocia, the Lungs, which govern Qi, are always involved, as in breathlessness Lung-Qi fails to descend. This failure to descend occurs when Lung-Qi is obstructed by exterior Wind or by Phlegm, or when it is deficient .
The Kidneys are the root of Qi; they receive Qi and hold it down. Lungs and Kidney work in coordination for proper breathing as Lung-Qi descends to the Kidneys and the Kidneys hold it down. The Lungs control exhalation and the Kidney inhalation. Thus, in chronic breathlessness a difficulty in inhalation indicates Kidney deficiency, while a difficulty in exhalation points to a Lung deficiency. Although the pattern of Kidneys not receiving Qi, which is typical of chronic breathlessness, is a Yang-deficiency pattern, both Kidney-Yin and Kidney-Yang deficiency can lead to chronic breathlessness .
Both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of adult asthma [3,6,7].
At Kurrajong Natural Medicine Centre our team of highly qualified and experienced practitioner are happy to develop a personalised treatment plan to help you manage your asthma. Simply call (02) 4573 0784
What You Can Do to Help Yourself
Manage Exposure to Allergens
One of the best things you can do to minimise asthma symptoms is to manage your exposure to allergens, such as dust, pollen, animal fur, or other known triggers.
Drink Enough Water
Drinking water is good for you in so many ways, including the management of your asthma. Make sure you drink at least 2 litres of water a day, more if you are engaged in hard physical work. Being well-hydrated keeps your mucus thinner, aiding breathing as well as digestion.
Watch What You Eat
Avoid foods that you know trigger allergies and eat primarily fresh, unprocessed foods. In addition, avoid foods that are high in sugar or fried fats, as these increase mucous secretion and thickening of mucous.
Change Your Air Filters
To keep the air clean in your home, make sure to regularly clean or change your air filters. When they trap dust and distribute it around your home, it can cause breathing problems and trigger asthma symptoms. You may also wish to use an air purifier, as these remove particles that my trigger your asthma from the air.
Keep your work- living-space clean and minimise the dust. A simple routine of dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning fabric surfaces can help prevent dust buildup. Don’t forget to wear a mask while cleaning to avoid inhaling the dust that gets kicked up in the process.
Build Up to an Active Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity is excellent for your lung health, but it can also be a trigger for certain types of asthma. Under the care of your healthcare provider, build up to a regular exercise routine for optimal results.
If you suffer from asthma, you obviously should avoid smoking, but you should also avoid areas where you will be exposed to smoke of any kind.
Keep Your Inhaler Handy
Of course, you should always keep your inhaler handy in case of emergencies.
- Su L, Meng L, Chen R, Wu W, Peng B, Man L. Acupoint Application for Asthma Therapy in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Forsch Komplementmed. 2016;23(1):16-21.
- Jiang, C., Jiang, L., & Qin, Q. (2019). Conventional Treatments plus Acupuncture for Asthma in Adults and Adolescent: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2019, 9580670. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/9580670
- Nurwati, I., Muthmainah, M., & Huda, K. N. (2020). Acupuncture for Asthma: Its Potential Significance in Clinical Practice. Medical acupuncture, 32(5), 272–279. https://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2020.1443
- McCracken, J. L., Veeranki, S. P., Ameredes, B. T., & Calhoun, W. J. (2017). Diagnosis and Management of Asthma in Adults: A Review. JAMA, 318(3), 279–290. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2017.8372
- Marciocia, G. (1994) The Practice of Chinese Medicine: The Treatment of Disease with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs, Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.
- Zhang, H. P., Wang, L., Wang, Z., Xu, X. R., Zhou, X. M., Liu, G., He, L. Y., Wang, J., Hsu, A., Li, W. M., & Wang, G. (2018). Chinese herbal medicine formula for acute asthma: A multi-center, randomized, double-blind, proof-of-concept trial. Respiratory medicine, 140, 42–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rmed.2018.05.014
- Shergis, J. L., Wu, L., Zhang, A. L., Guo, X., Lu, C., & Xue, C. C. (2016). Herbal medicine for adults with asthma: A systematic review. The Journal of asthma : official journal of the Association for the Care of Asthma, 53(6), 650–659. https://doi.org/10.3109/02770903.2015.1101473