World Asthma Day 2020: Is there a Natural Way to Fighting Asthma?
Naturopathy works to address and eliminate the root cause of the asthma disease.
Asthma is the most prevalent inflammatory disorder and is characterized by inflammation of the airways in your lungs. The inflammation causes the airway to constrict, weakening its ability to exchange air. When constricted airways are coupled with excess production of mucus, it can lead to breathing difficulties, persistent coughing and wheezing. Unless treated properly, the condition can be quite debilitating and interfere with your day to day functioning.
In India, approximately 6 percent of children and 2 percent of adults suffer from asthma.
Asthmatic attacks can be classified into two categories – extrinsic and intrinsic. The former is caused by airborne allergens, food, or medication. Some of the most common airborne allergens include plant pollens, mould, dander and dust. Food products that are known to trigger allergic reactions include citrus, dairy, sulfites and gluten.
Intrinsic asthma also referred to as non-allergic asthma, is characterized by sinusitis, persistent eosinophilia, and increased leukotriene production. It has a range of triggers from changes in weather, exercise andinfections to hormonal fluctuations, anxiety and stress. While conventional medicine is engineered to manage the symptoms of asthmatic attacks, naturopathy works to address and eliminate the root cause of the disease.
The Naturopathic Approach
Eliminating allergens from the environment is the first step in controlling asthma. Make sure your immediate surroundings do not have traces of animal fur, pollen, cockroach droppings, household cleaners, cigarette smoke, mould, petrol fumes and dust mites. Use air purifiers and vacuum cleaners with built-in HEPA filters to remove all traces of environmental allergens.
Naturopaths also make use of a combination of non-invasive treatments to administer relief to asthmatic patients. Patients are usually given a hot fomentation on their chest, back and abdomen.
Chest and back massage therapies are also administered along with an enema of lukewarm water. Hotfoot and arm bath is a commonly used treatment modality to improve lung function in patients suffering from bronchial asthma. The mobility restrictions due to the extended lockdown may make it difficult for you to pay a visit to a naturopath.
Thankfully, there are nifty home remedies you can try that will help ease the discomfort. For instance, placing a hot towel over your chest will relax the chest muscles and help restore normal breathing. Inhaling steam with 1-2 drops of eucalyptus oil will loosen up your mucous membranes so that you can cough it up.
Diet is another integral component of the naturopathic approach. By making minor changes to your diet, you can avoid food allergies and lessen your risk of acute asthma attacks. Avoid mucus producing foods like dairy products and red meat. Stick to foods that are low on sugar and fat. Fruits and vegetables are rich in alkaline content and contain anti-inflammatory nutrients like omega-3. Incorporate foods such as garlic, onion, walnuts, almonds and leafy vegetables as they add moisture to your lungs.
Yoga Poses For Asthma Relief
Yoga is an integral part of the naturopathic approach to treating asthma. It helps regulate your breathing by strengthening your respiratory muscles and replacing forceful breathing with relaxed breathing.
It also reduces feelings of breathlessness by boosting the functioning of your diaphragm and eliminating the inefficient use of accessory respiratory muscles, particularly those in your neck and abdomen. Studies have shown that patients who practiced yoga regularly experienced fewer attacks. Some poses that are particularly beneficial for asthmatics include Bhujangasana, Dhanurasana, Ardhamatsyendrasana, Ushtrasana, Trikonasana, Veerasana and Shalabhasana.
However, it is essential to note that improper practice of yogaasanas, kriyas and breathing exercises can exacerbate your asthma. So, make sure you start practicing under the guidance of a trained yoga instructor who has experience dealing with asthmatic patients. Before you schedule an appointment, make sure you get the go-ahead from your doctor, especially if you have diabetes, low blood pressure, kidney disease, or have undergone abdominal surgery recently. Most importantly, do not stop taking your medication under any circumstances.
While the regular practice of yoga may reduce your dependence on medication or even enable you to function without any, you should not stop taking them without the approval of your doctor.
(Dr. K.Shanmugam is an Assistant Chief Medical Officer at Jindal Naturecure Institute)
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