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What is ASTHMA?

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that creates lung irritation, often caused by inhalation of irritants or allergens (AAFA, 2018). 

What are the symptoms of asthma among children vs adults? 

When people are exposed to irritants over long periods, their airways become inflamed, causing them to experience many potentially life-threatening symptoms. These symptoms include coughing, dry throat, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain (AAFA, 2018). 

Asthma symptoms differ between children and adults significantly. In children, asthma occurs more often in males, and symptoms are less severe (Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey, n.d.). Also, the onset of asthma is typically caused by genetic factors rather than environmental factors. For example, the mother can impact it and whether or not she consumed alcohol, smoked cigarettes, and had a sufficient diet during the pregnancy (Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey, n.d.). In children, asthma attacks are typically less severe, and they usually grow out of the condition as they age. However, adult asthma occurs more often in women and has a higher probability of deadly asthma attacks. Regarding treatment, asthma in adults is more likely to require daily medication to alleviate the symptoms. Additionally, adults cannot grow out of their symptoms like children (Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey, n.d.). 

How does asthma happen?

There are many causes of asthma, including occupational, environmental, and genetic factors. For instance, if an individual is exposed to dust, organic waste, fumes, gas, or endotoxins in an occupational setting, they have the potential to develop asthma over time (Mayo Clinic, 2022). Those living in highly polluted neighborhoods risk developing asthma since they are exposed to irritants for a long time. Individuals with a family history of asthma are also susceptible because genetic factors can play a role in the development of asthma. Asthma can also be triggered by allergies since symptoms of allergies negatively impact the respiratory system (Mayo Clinic, 2022). 

What are the causes of asthma in Oriental Medicine?

In Oriental medicine, asthma is known as Xiao Chuan, which translates to wheezing and breathlessness (AcuMedic Clinic, 2016). However, these two symptoms are viewed as separate illnesses that need different treatments. Asthma is attributed to the immune system being deficient, weak, or sensitive (AcuMedic Clinic, 2016). It is also known to be caused by weak Kidney function, which can cause phlegm to develop in the body. Some triggers of asthma, according to Oriental medicine, include an imbalanced diet, emotional disturbances, or external pathogens (AcuMedic Clinic, 2016). External pathogens include rapid changes in the weather and exposure to smoke, allergens, pollens, etc. (AcuMedic Clinic, 2016). When people are experiencing asthma attacks, they have upper body excess with lower body deficiency. Upper body excess is when they produce phlegm and have symptoms such as wheezing, dry throat, and shortness of breath. On the other hand, lower body deficiency is when Kidney Qi is deficient and manifests as shortness of breath (AcuMedic Clinic, 2016). The traditional Chinese medicine theory views the Lung as the responsible organ for inhaling and the Kidney for exhaling. Also, this theory suggests that balance in the body is essential to good health. The theory states that when Spleen, Lung, and Kidney functions are not in balance, it can encourage the production of phlegm, which can get trapped in the lungs (AcuMedic Clinic, 2016). 

What can Oriental Medicine do to treat asthma?


Oriental medicine has been shown to be effective at treating asthma because it can help boost a patient’s immune system, decreasing their response to allergens. 

         For instance, acupuncture for asthma can help reduce asthmatic symptoms and improve quality of life. Acupuncture is when needles are pricked into the skin to help fight against physical or emotional conditions (Art of Wellness Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2021). This treatment is known to reduce the resistance of the respiratory system, causing the airways to become more open (Art of Wellness Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2021). It also has therapeutic benefits, such as calming the muscles, reducing reactive bronchial tubes, and reducing inflammation (Art of Wellness Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2021). 

        Acupressure is another TCM/OM approach used to treat asthma. It is when pressure is applied to different acupuncture points of the body to encourage the flow of energy in several meridians (University of Michigan, 2018). The free flow of energy is essential for those who wish to maintain good health, as it helps the body keep balance (University of Michigan, 2018). In addition, it helps simulate different body systems and results in better health outcomes such as better sleep, relaxed muscles, and less emotional stress. Furthermore, it is beneficial for treating asthma because putting pressure on specific points of the body, such as the chest, has been shown to decrease the frequency of asthma attacks (Falcon, 2020). 

        Traditional Chinese herbs are also used to expand the patient’s airways, reduce phlegm production, moisturize, and make the lungs less dry (Art of Wellness Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2021). TCM herbs have been clinically tested for years to determine their effectiveness and safeness, which have revealed positive results in treating asthma. A study on anti-asthma herbal medicine showed that participants that used the treatment had significantly higher lung function post-intervention (Li, 2007), which suggests that TCM herbs are beneficial for preventing airway irritation and can be safely used for long-term treatment. 

        Moxibustion is another TCM/OM modality in which practitioners burn mugwort herb near the patient’s skin to prevent or cure disease (Health CMi, 2020). It is known to be effective in relieving pain and relaxing the patients, which is often used in conjunction with acupuncture. Previous studies have shown that participants who used acupuncture, cupping, herbs, and moxibustion combined have more significant health outcomes for asthma (Health CMi, 2020). 

        Cupping is when suction cups are placed on the body for medical benefits. This treatment is also commonly used to alleviate asthmatic symptoms (Health CMi, 2020). This TCM/OM modality can clear congestion, bring more oxygen-rich blood to the respiratory system, and reduce inflammation (Anderson, 2018) because it removes heat in the lungs, which helps remove the build-up of phlegm, fluid, and congestion (Guo et al., 2021). 

        Last but not least, lifestyle changes can significantly affect asthma symptoms. For instance, great ways to prevent asthma are reducing exposure to dust, keeping windows open, avoiding smoking, adopting better sleeping habits, managing stress, exercising, and adopting healthier diets (Allergy & Asthma Network), 2022). For instance, exercising can help clear inflammation in the airways, preventing severe asthma attacks. However, all of these approaches are effective in improving Lung function, which in turn would help their body fight against asthma symptoms with ease.

          At Rapha Acupuncture in Newport Beach, we are a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinic specializing in women’s and men's health and can help you design the best treatment plan for asthma! Using acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbs customized to your symptoms, Rapha Acupuncture provides a natural and holistic solution. Give us a call today!

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