Asthma is a chronic, potentially life-threatening health condition affecting approximately 300 million people worldwide.
While there is currently no cure, with the right treatment plan people can effectively manage symptoms and prevent asthma attacks.
How can we help?
Chinese Medicine has a long-lasting history of treating a wide variety of respiratory diseases, including both allergic and non-allergic asthma.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine, used in conjunction with standard medical therapies have been clinically shown to help lower significantly both severity of symptoms and frequency of asthma attacks.
According to research, Chinese Medicine therapies for asthma can improve airflow and ease uncomfortable symptoms by reducing hyperreactivity and inflammation in the bronchial tubes, moistening the lungs, and calming muscle contractions around the airways.
Chinese Medicine treatments for asthma will usually consist of a blend of Acupuncture and highly individualised herbal formulas, alongside diet and lifestyle recommendations.
The focus is on strengthening the respiratory and immune systems, easing the mind and targeting the underlying cause of the disorder for better, long-term results.
How quickly will you see results?
Regularity and consistency are key to the successful and long-term treatment of asthma, and we usually recommend a minimum of 4 weeks to see improvements.
The benefits of both Acupuncture and Herbal medicine are cumulative. And although everyone responds differently to treatments and time may vary, patients should start noticing a significant and gradual reduction of symptoms and asthma attacks after a few courses of treatment.
Asthma is a very common condition. In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma, including 1.1 million children. There is a person with asthma in 1 in 5 households in the UK.
Asthma is a condition which causes inflammation, narrowing and swelling of the airways and mucus build-up in the lungs, making breathing difficult.
People with asthma can react badly when they have a cold or other viral infection, or when they come into contact with an asthma trigger. When this happens the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten and they become narrower (called ‘Bronchospasm’). The lining of the airways swells and often produces a sticky mucus. As the airways narrow, the air has to squeeze in and out, and this is what causes the person with asthma to find it difficult to breathe.
Symptoms are wheezing (a whistling noise in the chest), shortness of breath, coughing and a tight feeling in the chest caused by reversible obstruction of the airways as a result of inflammation or muscle spasm. Asthma may begin at any age and, if neglected, tends to recur and become chronic.
Asthma is typically classified as intermittent, which tends to come and go, or persistent. The latter can be mild, moderate or severe, meaning that asthma attacks might happen more often and symptoms might require medical attention
Asthma can be allergic (extrinsic), or non-allergic (intrinsic) in origin.
In allergy-induced asthma, environmental and external allergens such as moulds, pollens, household chemicals, strong smells, or pet dander can trigger a flare-up of the disease when inhaled or ingested.
When asthma is non-allergic, infections and viruses, colds or flu, cigarette smoke, emotional stress and even exercise may be the trigger that causes an asthma attack.
Everyone’s asthma is different and will probably have several triggers.
Anything that irritates the airways and sets off the symptoms of asthma is considered a trigger. Triggers can be different for each person. Knowing what triggers one’s asthma makes it easier to prevent an attack and it’s viewed as a crucial aspect of an effective asthma treatment plan.
Western Medicine view
In the Western medicine view, asthma is considered a long-term, chronic condition.
The reason why some people develop asthma while others don’t is not completely clear yet, although certain factors are thought to present a higher risk and increase the chances of developing the condition in people of any age. These include allergies, genetic predisposition, environmental factors, allergens and infections, among others.
Since there is currently no cure for asthma, standard care treatment mainly revolves around symptoms monitoring, prevention and management, and primarily consists of anti-inflammatory medication, in the form of inhalers or tablets.
There are two main types of medications: preventers and relievers.
Preventers are generally corticosteroid-based, long-acting inhalers and usually come in brown, red or orange devices. They are meant to be taken regularly, on a daily basis, and intended for long-term management of symptoms. They work over a period of time to reduce inflammation in the airways, making them less likely to react badly when you come across an asthma trigger.
Relievers or bronchodilators are fast-acting inhalers and usually come in blue devices. They are meant to be taken only in the emergency of an asthma attack as they are intended to relieve symptoms when they happen. While they don’t reduce inflammation, they can stop an asthma attack in progress or prevent a full-blown asthma attack by relaxing muscles and opening up airways.
Both types of medications are typically prescribed as part of a standard asthma treatment plan.
Being aware of what triggers an attack and monitoring asthma symptoms are also crucial parts of the mainstream approach to managing the disease. Knowing the triggers can help avoid them to reduce the eventuality of an asthma attack and it’s usually recommended as a preventative measure.
A healthcare provider will work with their patients to develop an asthma action plan that can enable them to live a productive life and manage their symptoms in the most effective way.
Chinese Medicine view
The Chinese name for asthma, ‘Xiao Chuan’, which means ‘wheezing and breathlessness’, identifies two separate, often overlapping and co-existing illnesses, each with specific symptoms and different treatment approaches.
While Xiao, or wheezing, is typically associated with a whistling sound during breathing and increased respiration rate, Chuan, or shortness of breath, is mostly associated with a constant need to grasp air, raised shoulder and flared nostrils.
In the Chinese medical view, asthma reveals an underlying imbalance or weakness mainly in the Spleen ZF, Lung ZF and Kidney ZF organs. These, under normal circumstances, would work together in harmony, primarily to process body fluids and control and regulate inhaling and exhaling.
According to Chinese Medicine, such deficiency, if not properly addressed, can result in an excess of wind and/or phlegm which get trapped and build up in the lungs and airways. This creates obstructions and produces the typical wheezing and shortness of breath associated with asthma.
Chinese Medicine treatment for asthma will focus largely on clearing phlegm and wind from the system to relieve symptoms, but also on strengthening the main Zang-fu organs impacted – the Spleen ZF, Kidney ZF and Lungs ZF.
Treatment will often include nourishing and regulating the immune system, which when out of balance, can make the body more susceptible to external pathogenic factors like pollen and other allergens.
Self-care, individual responsibility and lifestyle changes are essential for both the treatment and prevention of asthma attacks.
Here are a few, simple steps that you can take, alongside your asthma treatment plan, to lessen your chances of developing asthma or to keep your condition under control.
- Keep a journal and try to determine and eliminate your asthma triggers.
- Keep dust and mould under control.
- Use a high-quality air filter in your home.
- Try to drink warm, soothing liquids throughout the day. Tea and warm water keep the airways moist and open.
- Try to avoid or limit dairy products. Milk and other dairy foods are notorious for creating congestion and irritating the airways.
- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet, which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. These are good sources of antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, and they may help to reduce inflammation around your airways.
- If you experience a flare-up in asthma symptoms after eating certain foods, you might want to limit or avoid them.
- Manage stress. Stress and anxiety can be triggers for asthma attacks. Regular acupuncture treatment can help, together with breathing exercises, meditation and stress management techniques.
Implementing some of these tips should help ease your asthma symptoms, reduce the amount of medication you need to take, and generally improve the quality of your life.
For personalised advice on diet and lifestyle, please ask the doctor during your consultation.
Please be reminded that we offer free online health advice.
+ *CLINICAL TRIALS
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