Natural Asthma Treatments – Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease causing episodes of wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness due to airway constriction, inflammation and hyper-reactivity.
Symptoms and Causes of Asthma
Asthma causes widespread trouble in the community. Below are some facts from the 2004-05 National Health Survey (the most recent):
- Asthma is Australia’s most widespread chronic health problem, affecting over 2 million Australians (10% of the population) and is most prevalent in 14-24 year olds.
- Adult asthma sufferers are more likely to have time away from work or study than those without asthma (10% vs. 7%).
- Children aged 5-14 years with asthma are more likely to have had days away from school in the last two weeks than children without asthma (22% vs. 14%).
- Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism in primary school-aged children.
- Of people aged 18 years and over with asthma, 5% have very high, 9% have high, 18% have moderate and 34% have a low level of psychological distress. In comparison to those without asthma, 2% have very high, 5% have high, 15% have moderate and 43% have low levels of psychological distress.
How Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Help Asthma
The Traditional Chinese Medicine understanding of the mechanisms behind asthma can be complex but at the root of most asthma cases, the sufferer usually has some kind of underlying deficiency or weakness. Sporadically (or perhaps frequently depending on the severity of the asthma), this deficiency leaves the Lungs open to attack either from internally generated influences or influences invading from the exterior. These attacks produce the symptoms of an asthma episode.
Theoretically, active asthma is treated differently to remission stage asthma. During an active phase, attacks are more frequent and treatment focuses more heavily on providing symptomatic relief. During a non-active phase, attacks are infrequent and treatment focuses most heavily on the root cause of the asthma – the internal weakness that is allowing the attacks to occur.
In reality the line between active and non-active asthma is not so clearly defined and treatment most commonly blends symptomatic relief with prevention to varying degrees.
TCM terminology can be difficult to grasp at times but the important thing to remember is that TCM is just an alternative system for describing the same illness. The underlying deficiency mentioned above may translate to an allergic hypersensitivity or even a genetic predisposition to asthma. The attacking influence may be the pollen, fungal spores, animal hair, or whatever your triggers are.
Asthma cannot be cured but steps can be taken to control it – the aim being to be able to lead a normal, symptom-free life. In most cases, acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very effective. After a course of treatments, the severity of asthmatic symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath are reduced; and the frequency of asthmatic episodes are lessened.
Unless your case is very severe, TCM treatment for asthma is not usually ongoing and a period of treatment generally has sustained effects. Future “top-ups” are often necessary and the frequency and duration of those future treatment courses will depend on the triggers and severity of your asthma.
How Chinese Herbal Medicine v Western Medicine
Reports of acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine reacting poorly with the modern drugs used for asthma treatment and prevention are extremely rare, and the two medical systems can be effortlessly used side-by-side often with enhanced results.
Because Chinese medicine has an entirely unique diagnostic and treatment framework, it frequently achieves results in cases that have been unresponsive to other forms of medicine. If you are suffering from asthma and are looking for a viable alternative treatment approach, please get in touch.