Bronchial asthma is associated with wheezing and short, gasping breaths. It may be accompanied by an inability to speak due to breathlessness, cough and a difficulty in breathing out, rather than breathing in. Allergy to environmental allergens like fumes, dust, flowers, pollen, fur and sometimes foods like eggs, nuts, wheat, milk can trigger or exacerbate asthma. Sometimes a cold or cough can also lead to asthma.
Asthma is one of those conditions where you have to make a call based on the aggravation and past history, age etc. of the patient if you need to seek professional help. In some cases, home remedies are very effective, but time is of the essence in cases like this. If you find that you are not able to breathe comfortably even after taking medications that ordinarily help you or if you have other symptoms like chest pain, profuse sweating, swollen feet and if you have a history of heart problems, please seek immediate medical attention.
The underlying cause of asthma from a doshic perspective is a kapha aggravation.
- Boil 1 tsp of licorice (yashtimadhu) root in a cup of water for a few minutes. Add 5-10 drops of mahanarayana oil or 1/2 tsp of ghee. Sip the tea every 5 minutes of so. This tea can also be used as a preventative measure for people who don’t have hypertension (since licorice makes the body retain sodium). Sometimes the licorice tea may induce vomiting, which is fine since it will get rid of some phlegm and may give some relief. Once prepared, the tea can last for up to 72 hours.
- During the early stages of asthma, a hot tea made with ginger and minced garlic cloves, taken once in the morning and once at night will help. Garlic cloves boiled in milk also help in a similar manner.
- During an attack, warm mustard oil or coconut oil to which a little camphor has been added should be massaged over the back of the chest. This loosens up phlegm and eases breathing.
- Ajwain (carom) seeds in boiling water can be inhaled as steam. The vapor, which is rich in essential oils dilates the bronchi.
- Juice from vilva or bael leaves, mixed in warm water with a dash of pepper can be given as a drink.
- 1/4 cup of onion juice with 1 tsp of honey and 1/8 tsp of black pepper powder should give some immediate relief.
- Old ghee (stored for years) can be gently massaged on the chest to loosen secretions and relieve respiratory distress.
- Boil in 2 cups of water 2-3 licorice (yashtimadhu) sticks, a small cinnamon piece and some palm candy. Keep boiling till the volume reduces. Drink this decoction a little by little through the day.
- Mix 1/4 tsp asafetida (hing), 2 tsp honey, 1/2 tsp juice from a betel leaf, 1/2 tsp juice from a white onion and drink it 2-5 times a day.
- Boil 2 tbsp fennel (saunf) in 2 cups of water until it has reduced to half. Strain and drink through the day.
- Mix 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of trikatu in a cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes, add 1 tsp of honey and drink twice a day.
- 1/2 tsp of bay leaf with 1/4 tsp of pippali mixed with 1 tbsp of honey, taken 2 or 3 times a day is useful.
- During the last stages when the wheezing has stopped, but there is still a lot of phlegm, try this. Wash 3-4 dried figs, wash them in warm water, soak overnight in a cup of water and eat first thing in the morning and drink the water. This helps in draining the phlegm.
- For chest congestion, add 1 tsp ajwain (carom) seeds powder and 1 tsp turmeric (haldi) to 3 cups of boiling water. Cool it and drink this mixture with honey.
- Drink water that has been stored in a copper vessel as such water is said to change one’s constitutional tendency to get respiratory problems.
- Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) in the morning with regulated breathing, followed by drinking a glass of water in which whole Bengal gram (chana dhal) and few raw garlic cloves are soaked.
- Yoga poses like Bow (Dhanurasana), Cobra (Bhujangasana), Vajrasana, and inverted poses like Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana) and Plow (Halasana) are good.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes:
- Avoid smoking or being exposed to second hand smoke.
- Avoid exposure to rain or cold wind.
- Avoid yogurt, buttermilk and fermented foods, bananas, deep-fried foods, alcohol, and hydrophilic foods like salty items, cucumber etc. especially during winter and after sunset.
- Eat a light dinner in general.