Asthma is a chronic obstructive disorder of the lungs which obstructs the normal airflow. There is a similar disorder called Shwasa explained by Caraka in Chikitsa Sthana 17. Shwasa is caused by aggravated vayu along with vitiated kapha obstructing the channels of prana, udaka and annavaha.
Chronic cough is associated with asthma and has similar aggravating factors. Ayurveda has a similar condition called Kasa with five known types based on the dominance of dosa and etiology. The vata-dominant, pitta-dominant and kapha-dominant kasa are curable with proper treatment. The other two types originating due to injury (kshata) and depletion of body constituents (kshaya) are palliable (yapya).
Causative Factors for Shwasa
Vata prakopa (vata vitiating)
Aahar (foods that increase vata), vihar (activities that increase vata), ruksha (dry foods), intake of cold water, excessive salt intake, exposure to cold windy weather, exposure to dust, smoke, and excessive sex.
Kapha Prakopa (kapha vitiating)
Aahar (diet), Vihar (activities), eating dense foods like banana and black gram, abhisyandi (kapha producing), unboiled milk, sour curd, and red meat. Eating foods that are too heavy at dinner and living in a cold and damp climate.
Exogenous Causative Factors
- Pollen, air pollutants, smoke
- Toxic fumes
- Exposure to wind
- Injury to the chest, lungs, or throat
- Living in a cold climate
Endogenous Causative Factors
- Excess vata provoking foods with dry properties
- Drinking cold water or drinks
- Excessive exercise or walking
- Excessive kapha provoking foods with heavy/cold qualities
- Excess meats from marshy or aquatic animals
- Metabolic toxins, diet provoking ama
- Irregular meal times or foods
- Heavy foods causing obstruction in channels
Samprapti - Pathogenesis
The increased kapha dosa causes avarodha in the pranavaha strotas (blockage of channels of respiratory system) leading to vata dosa obstruction. The blocked vata dosa moves in reverse direction or pratilomana vayu. Vata dosa increases dryness and the moist smooth tissues of the air passages are disturbed causing constriction and difficulty breathing.
- Anaha (constipation with flatulence)
- Pain in the flanks
- Pain in the cardiac region
- Abnormal movement of prana vayu
Five types of Shwasa
- Maha shwasa is indicated by laboured breathing at night caused by the obstructed upward movement of aggravated vata. Symptoms include fainting, distorted vision, abnormal facial expression, obstruction of urine and feces, weak voice and extreme fatigue. This type is not considered curable by Ayurveda.
- Urdhava shwasa is indicated by prolonged upward breathing caused by kapha obstructing the channels of respiration leading to the aggravation of vata. Symptoms include a longer expiration with shallow inspiration and the person experiences fear, fainting, extreme dryness of mouth and restlessness. If the upward movement of vayu is aggravated enough and completely obstructs the downward movement of vayu, the person will fall unconscious. This type is not considered curable by Ayurveda.
- China shwasa is indicated when the breath is completely interrupted due to affliction of prana vayu. Symptoms include the obstruction of the airway and suffers great feeling of cutting the marma or vital energy, sweating, unconsciousness, red and teary eyes, difficulty breathing and discoloration of the skin. Death comes quickly if the obstruction is not removed.
- Tamak shwasa (chronic asthma) is indicated by vata moving in the opposite direction obstructing the respiratory tract. Symptoms include neck stiffness, kapha rhinorrhoea (thin mucus), and rhonchi (rattling wheezing sound). Many chronic attacks overtime deplete prana and during an attack the eyeballs are prominent, faintness, sweating, severe cough, difficulty expelling phlegm, the voice is hoarse, and there is difficulty speaking. There is difficulty lying down to sleep and requires sitting up. The symptoms increase during weather driven by cold, cloudy, rainy, and easterly winds. The person’s symptoms are relieved with heat. This type in the early stages is considered curable.
- Kshudra shwasa (allergic asthma) will subside on its own and is caused by the intake of dry food and over exertion. Vata is mildly vitiated in the kostha and moves in an upward direction to the respiratory tract. The person does not have any other bodily symptoms. It is not very painful as it does not affect the channels of food and drinks nor does it cause pain to the sense organs. This type is curable if the person improves strength.
Tamak shwasa (chronic asthma) is controllable and Kshudra shwasa (allergic asthma) is curable, according to Ayurveda. More than 70 % people have these two types. Maha, urdhava and china shwasa are rare cases and difficult to cure. For healthy people, shodhana virechana and shaman chikitsa are recommended, along with diet management and herbal remedies. For weaker people, vatanashak and kaphanashak treatment are given along with anupan. With proper diet, lifestyle and Ayurvedic remedies shwasa rog may be managed for a long time.
Ayurvedic Mentoring for Practitioners
When shwasa and kasa are chronic and kapha obstructs vata in the air passages, it helps to have the expertise of an Ayurvedic vaidya to help you manage your client’s condition.
An Ayurvedic mentoring consultation is like a second opinion and offers you a fresh look at your client’s condition. You will learn the correct products to prescribe, along with the dosages and times to administer Arya Vaidya Sala’s classically formulated products.
If you would like a mentoring consultation, visit our website to meet Vaidya Vishwanth and schedule your client’s review.
Products for Asthma and Chronic Cough
Vidaryadi Kwatham tablets help balance vata and pitta dosa. It is useful in bronchitis, asthma, cold, cough, and is nourishing cardiac tonic.
Dasamula Arishtam is widely used in many conditions apart from asthma, cough, and cold conditions. It helps to reduce excess kapha (mucus) accumulated in the respiratory system. It balances vata and kapha dosa.
Karpuradi Oil is used as external application to chest region. It helps to liquify kapha from respiratory system and eases air flow. It helps to relaxes chest muscles.
Thalisapatradi Vatakam is used in cough, cold, asthma, bronchitis, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, vomiting. It helps to control wheezing due to asthma or allergy.
Agastya Rasayanam improves the respiratory strength. It is useful in many of the acute and chronic respiratory disorders. Excellent in all types of asthma and tuberculosis. It builds the immunity and can be used suitably in asthma and chronic cough conditions.
For more information about Ayurvedic protocols, CHIKITSA SAMGRAHAM- VAIDYARATNAM by P. S. VARRIER, is available for purchase. This book by Ayurvedic experts from Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala, is available on our online store.
Original source: Dr JV Hebbar, EasyAyurveda.com
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