is an ancient Greek word meaning " panting or short- drawn breath." It is the most
troublesome of the respiratory diseases. The asthma
patient gets frequent attacks of
breathlessness in between which he is completely normal.
Patients suffering from asthma
appear to be gasping for breath. Actually, they have more trouble
exhaling than inhaling because the air passages of the small bronchi become clogged and
constricted with mucus, thus making it difficult for the patient to breathe out. All asthmatics have
more difficulty at night, especially during sleep.
The onset of asthma
is either gradual or abrupt. Sudden onsets are often preceded by a spell of
coughing which may be associated with itching of the chin, the back of the neck or chest. When
the onset is gradual, the attack is usually brought on by respiratory infection
. A severe attack
causes an increase in heartbeat and respiratory rates and the patient feels restless and fatigued.
There may be coughing, tightness inthe chest, profuse sweating and vomiting. There may also
be abdominal pain, especially if coughing is severe. Foggy weather aggravates the symptoms
An asthmatic attack begins when the bronchial tubes in the lungs become constricted. The tubes
having become narrow, the inhaled air becomes trapped in the tiny air sacs at the end of the
tubes, making the release of breath difficult. The wheezing sound identified with asthma
produced by the air being pushed through the narrowed bronchi.
Mainly bronchial in its symptoms
is caused by a variety of factors. For many it is an
allergic condition resulting from the reaction of the system to the weather, food, drugs, perfumes
and other irritants which vary with different individuals. Allergies
to dust are the most common.
Some persons are sensitive to the various forms of dust like cotton dust, wheat dust and paper
dust, some pollens, animal hair, fungi and insects, especially cockroaches. Foods which
generally cause allergic reactions are wheat, eggs, milk, chocolates, beans, potato, pork and
For others, asthma
may result from the abnormal body chemistry involving the system's
enzymes or a defect in muscular action within the lungs. Quite often, however, asthma
precipitated by a combination of allergic and non- allergic factors including emotional tension, air
pollution, infections and hereditary factors. It has been estimated that when both parents have
or hay fever, in 75 to 100 per cent cases, the offspring also has allergic reactions.
Modern medical system has not been able to find a cure for this crippling disease. Drugs and
vaccines have only limited value in alleviating symptoms
. Most of these are habit forming and
the dose has to be increased from time to time to give the same amount of relief. The frequent
introduction of drugs in the system, while giving only temporary relief, tends to make asthma
chronic and incurable. Allergy - which is the immediate cause of asthma
- itself is an indication of
lowered resistance and internal disharmony caused by faulty eating and bad habits. This is the
root cause and the real cure lies in a return to nature.
The natural way to treat asthma
consists of stimulating the functioning of slack excretory organs,
adopting appropriate diet patterns to eliminate morbid matter and reconstruct the body, and
practicing yogasanas, yogic kriyas and pranayamas to permit proper assimilation of food and to
strengthen the lungs, digestive system and circulatory organs.
The patient should be given an enema to clean the colon and prevent auto-intoxication.
Mud-packs applied to the abdomen will relieve the fermentation caused by undigested food and
will promote intestinal peristalsis. Wet packs should be applied to the chest to relieve the
congestion of the lungs and strengthen them. The patient should be made to perspire through
steam bath, hot foot bath, hot hip bath and sun bath.
This will stimulate the skin and relieve congested lungs.
The patient should fast for a few days on lemon juice with honey and thereafter resort to a fruit
juice diet to nourish the system and eliminate the toxins. Gradually, solid foods can be included.
The patient should, however, avoid the common dietic errors. Ideally, his diet should contain a
limited quantity of carbohydrates, fats and proteins
which are acid-forming foods, and a liberal
quantity of alkaline foods consisting of fresh fruits, green vegetables and germinated gram.
Foods which tend to produce phelgm such as rice, sugar, lentils and curds as also fried and
other difficult- to- digest foods should be avoided. Breakfast may consist of prunes, orange or
berries or a few black raisins with honey. Lunch and dinner should consist of a salad of raw
vegetables such as cucumber, lettuce, tomato, carrot and beets, one or two lightly cooked green
vegetables and wheat bread. The last meal should preferably be taken before sunset or at least
two hours before going to bed.
Asthamtics should always eat less than their capacity. They should eat slowly, chewing their
food properly. They should drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day, but should avoid taking
water or any liquid with meals. Spices, chillies and pickles, too much tea and coffee should also
, particularly when the attack is severe, tends to destroy the appetite. IN such cases, do
not force the patient to eat. He should be kept on fast till the attack is over. He should, however,
take a cup of warm water every two hours. An enema taken at that time will be very beneficial.
Honey is considered highly beneficial in the treatment of asthma
. It is said that if a jug of honey
is held under the nose of an asthma
patient and he inhales the air that comes into contact with
the honey, he starts breathing easier and deeper. The effect lasts for about an hour or so. This is
because honey contains a mixture of `higher' alcohols and ethereal oils and the vapors given off
by them are soothing and beneficial to the asthma
patient. Honey usually brings relief whether
the air flowing over it is inhaled or whether it is eaten or taken either in milk or water. It thins out
accumulated mucous and helps its elimination from the respiratory passages. It also tones up
the pulmonary parenchyma
and thereby prevents the production of mucous in future. Some
authorities recommend one year old honey for respiratory disease.
Another effective remedy for asthma
is garlic. The patient should be given daily garlic cloves
boiled in thirty gms of milk as a cure for early stage of asthma
. Steaming ginger tea with minced
garlic cloves in it, can also help to keep the problem under control
and should be taken both in
the morning and evening. Turmeric is also regarded as an effective remedy for bronchial
. The patient should be given a teaspoonful of turmeric powder with a glass of milk two or
three times daily. It acts best when taken on an empty stomach.
During the attack, mustard oil mixed with little camphor should be massaged over the back of
the chest. This will loosen up phelgm and ease breathing. The patient should also inhale steam
from the boiling water with caraway seeds, known as ajwain in the vernacular. It will dilate the
The patient should also follow the other laws of nature. Air sun and water are great healing
agents. Regular fasting once a week, an occasional enema, breathing exercises, fresh air, dry
climate, light exercises and a correct posture go a long way in treating the disease.
The patient should perform yogic kriyas such as jalneti, vamandhouti and yogic asanas such as
ekpaduttanasana, yogamudra, sarvangasana, padmasana, bhujangasana, dhanurasana,
vakrasana, ardh-matsyendrasan, shalabhasan, paschimottanasana and shavasana.
Pranayamas like kapalbhati, anuloma-viloma, ujjayi, surbyabhedana and bhramari are also
The patient should avoid dusty places, exposure to cold, foods to which he is sensitive, mental
worries and tensions. Asthmatic should be made to feel that they are not sick, and with slight
adjustments, can live a full life.