Fight Asthma with TCM
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?
Long-term exposure to irritants can cause airway inflammation and life-threatening symptoms like coughing, dry throat, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. (AAFA, 2018).
Asthma symptoms vary significantly between children and adults. In children, asthma occurs more often in males, and symptoms are less severe (Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey, n.d.). Adult asthma occurs more often in women and has a higher probability of deadly asthma attacks. Children are more likely to have asthma caused by genetic factors, while adults are more likely to have asthma caused by environmental factors. Children also tend to have less severe asthma attacks and may outgrow the condition, while adults are more likely to have severe asthma attacks, cannot outgrow the symptoms like children, and require daily medication (Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey, n.d.).
How does asthma happen?
A complex interplay of occupational, environmental, and genetic factors causes asthma. Occupational exposure to dust, organic waste, fumes, gas, or endotoxins, environmental pollutants, and family history of asthma are all risk factors for developing asthma. Allergies can also trigger asthma attacks by negatively impacting 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 illnesses requiring different treatments. Asthma is attributed to the immune system being deficient, weak, or sensitive (AcuMedic Clinic, 2016). Some triggers of asthma, according to Oriental medicine, include an imbalanced diet, emotional disturbances, or external pathogens (AcuMedic Clinic, 2016), including rapid changes in the weather and exposure to smoke, allergens, pollens, etc. (AcuMedic Clinic, 2016).
Oriental medicine views asthma as a complex condition caused by imbalances in the Spleen, Lung, and Kidney organs. When their functions are not in harmony, it can encourage the production of phlegm, which can get trapped in the lungs (AcuMedic Clinic, 2016). The traditional Chinese medicine theory views the Lung as the responsible organ for inhaling and the Kidney for exhaling. 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). Also, this theory suggests that balance in the body is essential to good health.
What can Oriental Medicine do to treat asthma?
Oriental medicine is an effective asthma treatment, as it can boost the immune system, restore balance to the body, and reduce phlegm production and the response to allergens.
Acupuncture for asthma can help reduce symptoms and improve lung function and quality of life. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) therapy that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to 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). Studies have shown that acupuncture can effectively reduce asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness, by calming the muscles and reducing reactive bronchial tubes and inflammation (Art of Wellness Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2021).
Acupressure for asthma is a promising complementary therapy that involves applying pressure to specific points on the body to encourage the flow of energy, Qi, in the meridians. 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). TCM theory suggests that blocked Qi can lead to various health problems, including asthma. Acupressure can help to unblock Qi and restore balance to the body, which can lead to reduced asthma symptoms and improved lung function. Studies have shown that acupressure can effectively reduce the frequency of asthma attacks and improve lung function in people with asthma (Falcon, 2020).
Traditional Chinese herbs are used to treat asthma by expanding airways, reducing phlegm production, and moisturizing the lungs to make them less dry. (Art of Wellness Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2021). TCM herbs have been clinically tested for years to determine their effectiveness and safety in positively treating asthma. A study on anti-asthma herbal medicine showed that participants who 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 a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) therapy that involves burning mugwort herb near the patient's skin to promote healing. Moxibustion is often used in conjunction with acupuncture to relieve pain, relax muscles, and improve lung function in people with asthma. A study of people with asthma found that those who received acupuncture, cupping, herbs, and moxibustion combined had significantly better health outcomes than those who received only conventional asthma treatment (Health CMi, 2020).
Cupping is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) modality that involves placing suction cups on the body to promote healing. Cupping is commonly used to alleviate asthmatic symptoms (Health CMi, 2020) by clearing congestion, bringing more oxygen-rich blood to the respiratory system, and reducing inflammation (Anderson, 2018). A study found that cupping therapy effectively reduced asthma symptoms and improved lung function in people with asthma by removing heat from the lungs, which helps break up phlegm and fluid buildup (Guo et al., 2021).
Lifestyle changes can significantly affect asthma symptoms and improve lung function. Here are some tips for making lifestyle changes that can help manage asthma (Allergy & Asthma Network, 2022):
Reduce exposure to dust: Dust mites are a common trigger for asthma attacks. Reduce dust exposure by vacuuming and dusting regularly, using a HEPA filter, and keeping your home clean and dry.
Keep windows open: Fresh air can help to reduce allergens and pollutants in the air. Opening windows can also help to improve ventilation and reduce moisture levels in the home.
Avoid smoking: Smoking is a major trigger for asthma attacks. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your asthma.
Adopt better sleeping habits: Sleeping is important for overall health and well-being. It is also important for people with asthma to get enough sleep, as sleep deprivation can worsen asthma symptoms.
Manage stress: Stress can trigger asthma attacks. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation.
Exercise regularly: Exercise is a great way to improve lung function and reduce asthma symptoms. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
Adopt a healthier diet: Eating a healthy diet can help to reduce inflammation and improve lung function. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive saturated and unhealthy fats.
All of the above approaches effectively improve the Lung function, which in turn would help the body fight against asthma symptoms with ease.
Rapha Acupuncture in Newport Beach, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinic specializing in women's and men's health, can help you design the best treatment plan for asthma using acupuncture and customized TCM herbs.
Rapha Acupuncture provides a natural and holistic solution for asthma, giving you the freedom to breathe easy. call us today to book a consultaiton!
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