Have your symptoms of asthma become more frequent or of greater intensity? Are you concerned that your condition will prevent you from being as physically active as you would prefer to be? Is your child’s asthma condition becoming increasingly more stubborn to control? Although there is no current cure for asthma and it’s causes are still being researched you don’t have to feel like you are stuck with experiencing all of the unpleasant symptoms. The condition of asthma is well known in Chinese medicine and has been treated successfully. Whether you have breathing problems only once in a while or have been struggling with asthma for years acupuncture for asthma might be able to help you control your symptoms better.
What is Asthma?
What is asthma you say? Asthma is not a simple disorder but the causes are being narrowed down. Many believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors are involved in the etiology of the disorder. The basic symptoms of cough, chest tightness, wheeze and shortness of breath, however, are pretty straight forward. The intensity these symptoms present themselves depends on how sensitive your airways(bronchioles) are to outside triggers such as allergens and air pollution. This constitutional predisposition can be inherited.
It is common for people who are asthmatic to also experience allergiesand acid reflux as well.
During more severe attacks patients will experience a general worsening of the basic symptoms from bronchiole constriction. This has been described as trying to breathe through a straw filled with cotton! As a result of the inability to take a full breath patients may experience disorientation and anxiety. A fast acting inhaler can be recommended by your physician in order to alleviate these symptoms.
A snapshot of inside the airways of someone suffering from an asthma attack would not only show us the lining as being red and inflammed but would also be coated with extra mucus. This response would be protective measures our body takes against an allergen such as pollen or environmental trigger such as pollution contacting our airway lining. As a result the muscles surrounding the bronchioles will constrict and make breathing difficult. This produces the wheezing sound accompanying an attack that is definitive of asthma. Unlike other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases(COPD) such as bronchitis or emphysema airway obstruction is reversible and patients can feel normal inbetween attacks.
Chinese Medicine for Asthma
The condition known as asthma in Chinese medicine is called Xiao Chuan which means wheezing and panting or difficult breathing. It is similiar to how we view allergies or allergic rhinitis and is essentially an immune disorder. As severe attacks can be life threatening they should always be treated with western medicine first. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can provide one of the best alternative ways to reduce the frequency and intensity of the symptoms of asthma.
The deficiency of the Lung, Spleen and Kidney Organ/Meridian system are mostly responsible for the symptoms of asthma. When the Spleen energy is weak in our body we have a tendency to hold onto water which can then more easily transform into phlegm or mucus. Having a low appetite or/and digestive difficulty are often viewed as signs of Spleen weakness or deficiency. When the Lung and Kidney Organ/Meridian systems are weak the body will have greater difficulty dispersing fluids and building energy reserves. Signs of Lung and Kidney deficiency include low energy, urinary difficulties and reproductive issues along with of course repeated respiratory infections.
There are two significantly different types of treatment using acupuncture for asthma. It depends on whether a patient is seen during an attack or inbetween attacks. During an asthma attack the goal is to relieve spasm and reduce phlegm. During remission we do this also but the primary concern is to treat the root cause of the condition which helps correct the imbalance in the body. Tonification or strengthening of the Lung/Spleen/Kidney Organ/Meridiansystem with acupuncture and Chinese herbs is called for.
Asthma symptoms are usually worse during the winter and spring because of the cold weather and allergen presence. During the hottest days of summer when Yang energy is at its peak we use what is called Fu Tietherapy also known as Herbal Plaster therapy on the acupuncture points themselves. The topical herbs can help strengthen the Lungs and disperse phlegm and mucus build up. This not only helps with asthma but improves the immunity as well so the patient can experience fewer respiratory problems during the upcoming year.