Shwasa (Asthma) and its Ayurvedic Management:
Shwasa (Ayurvedic terminology), Asthma, Dyspnoea, Breathlessness
‘Shwasa’ is a condition in which number of respiration per minute increases along with difficulty in respiration.
The word ‘Shwasa’ is derived from the root ‘shwasa prinane’ which actually means there is difficulty in the entry of ‘Praana vaayu’ (oxygen) in the ‘Pranavaha Srotasa’ (respiratory tract).
Causative factors of Asthma:
According to Charaka (school of Ayurvedic medicine), long continued inhalation of dust, poisonous smoke, dry wind, pollens, chemical dyes, colours, petrol fumes, working in very cold and dump atmosphere can result in asthma. Dry, cold and food articles which are heavy to digest like cheese, stale meat, fermented foods, curd, aerated cold drinks, fish and other sea food can also cause asthma.
In fact both Vata and Kapha aggravating foods and behaviour cause this disease.
Various debilitating disease like heart disease, kidney disease and brain disease may be causative factors.
Depletion of the body’s resources from excessive purification by purificatory procedures (such as Panchkarma practises) and severe weakness due to loss of plasma, bold and ‘ojas’ also result in asthma.
Often asthma may be result of trauma, either emotional or physical, accompanied by the suppression of emotional expression.
Ayurveda has classified this disease in five types as below.
1) Maha shwasa
2) Urdhva shwasa
3) Chhinna shwasa
4) Tamaka shwasa
5) Kshudra shwasa
Out of all these types, ‘Tamaka shwasa’ can be labled as bronchial asthma, while ‘Maha shwasa’, ‘Urdhva shwasa’ and ‘Chhinna shwasa’ are different types of dyspnoea that are complications of other diseases. ‘Kshudra shwasa’ is a minor type presents due to any irritants like overeating and drinking.
‘Kshudra shwasa’ is curable. If the patient is strong enough and the clinical features are mild to moderate, ‘Tamaka shwasa’ can be curable with difficulty. Remaining three varities- Maha, Urdhva and Chhinna are incurable.
Ayurvedic treatment for Asthama:
General line of treatment:
In acute attack of asthma, external oleation (Abhyanga/ Oil massage) and hot fomentation should always be performed.
For external oleation, apply a warm mixture of sesame oil with ralk salt on the chest. For hot fomentation on the chest, attach a hard rubber tube to a pressure cooker containing herbs and water and carry out the fomentation with the vapour coming out of the tube. If necessary, a whole body fomentation should be done in specially prepared steam chamber. The hot fomentation helps to liquefy the mucous in the respiratory tract and it can easily be removed.
The treatment should be decided on the following three criteria.
1) Patient having good strength or very weak strength
2) Predominance of kapha or vata dosha
3) During the attach of asthma or after the attack
When the patient has good strength with predominance of kapha, medicated emesis and medicated purgation should be given. Later on he should be given medicated smoking (Dhumrapaan) and should ask to take wholesome diet.
When the patient is weak and having vata predominance, he should be treated with anti-vata line of treatment with meat soup and oleating substances.
Some of the famous Ayurvedic formulation for asthma has been given below.
1) Sitopaladi Churna (Sitopaladi Powder) should be taken with warm water or with honey repeatedly.
2) Balchaturbhadra Churna (Balchaturbhadra Powder) should be taken with warm water or with honey repeatedly.
3) Chyavanprash Avleha (A variety of medicated jam)
4) Agatsya -haritaki Avleha (A variety of medicated jam)
5) Kanakasava (An Ayurvedic formulation made with self generated natural alcohol)
‘Rasayana’ Treatment: (To avoid recurrence)
To avoid recurrence of the disease and to give strength to the respiratory channel, proper rejuvinative treatment is useful.
A special type of rejuvenating method called ‘unit increase and unit decrease’ should be used. This is known as ‘Vardhaman Rasayana’. The procedure is as follows. Take 50 ml of water, add one ‘Pippali’ (Piper longum fruit) and boil the mixture for 10 minutes. Take out piper longum fruit and chew it first then drink the mixture on it. On very next day put two piper longum fruits in the mixture and repeat the same procedure. Every day increase the piper longum fruit by one until the 11th day and then decrease it by one each day. The entire course finished in twenty one days (total no. of piper longum fruit used in entire course= 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10+11+10+9+8+7+6+5+4+3+2+1=121). ‘Pippali’ fruit gives strength to the respiratory tract and prevents the severity of attacks.
One has to follow the ‘diet plan’ (given on the home page of this web site) during entire treatment.