Asthma is an inflammatory disease of small airways characterized by episodic reversible airways obstruction due to hyperresponsiveness of tracheobronchial tree to various intrinsic and extrinsic stimuli. It is mainly caused by the release of inflammatory components in the lung like histamines, leukotrienes, platelet-activating factor.etc. in the lungs due to various external and internal factors.
In ayurveda, this is considered to originate from affliction of the stomach and other parts of gastro-intestinal tract. In most of the cases therefore either in the beginning of the disease or before each attack, the patient suffers from indigestion, constipation or even diarrhea.
The seat of manifestation of the disease is lung. Because of pressure, at times, the heart also gets involved. Usually before attacks, the patient gets nasal congestion, even obstruction and sneezing. In ayurveda, therefore, both for the prevention and cure of this disease,primary attention is given to stomach, bowels, nose and lungs. Simultaneously, in chronic cases care is taken to strengthen the heart.
For this disease, the medicines commonly used in ayurveda are chywanprash and agastya rasayana. Both these drugs are composed of many drugs. But, the chief ingredient of chywanprash is fruit of amalaki, which is botanically is known as Emblica officinalis. This is one of the important source of vitamin c. Ordinarily vitamin c is found in many citrus fruits. But they get destroyed when they when exposed to heat of sun or fire. Amalaki however is an exception, and the vitamin c content of it doesnot get destroyed even after boiling for considerable period.
The fruit of haritaki is the main ingredient of the other medicine,viz,agastaya rasayana. This is also known as agastya haritaki in some classics. The botanical name of haritaki is terminalia chebula which is considered in ayurveda to be vru useful medicine and is used as a home remedy.
Of these two, viz, cyavanaprasa and agastya rasayan, the former is used as a tonic and specially indicated in the case of bronchial asthma, where the patient is emaciated and weak. Agastya rasayan is given to patient of bronchial asthma who are constipated and also to those who often complain of sneezing, blocking of the nostrils and congestion of the throat.
Both these drugs are in the form of linctus and can be taken in a dose upto two teaspoonful three times a day. Care should be taken to see that the normal appetite of the patient is maintained. If taken in heavy dose, at times there is suppression of appetite and in that case the dose of the medicine should be reduced. Agastaya rasayan, if taken in heavy dose, may cause loose motion and in that case the dose of this medicine should be reduced.
Both these medicines are to be taken before food, preferably on empty stomach and at bed time. A cup of warm milk or even water should be given after these medicines.
They are to be taken during and even after the attack of asthma. They have both preventive and curative value. It takes sometime for the action of this medicine to be manifestated. Even though they might give some relief immediately after their intake,they usually take two to three weeks to act fully. In chronic cases, they make take still more time. Therefore, one shouldnot doubt their utility if the attack is not stopped immediately after their intake. But, they will certainlt reduce the acuteness of the attack and the duration of the attack will be comparatively shorter. Even the gap between two attacks will increase and the patient will have to restore his health in order to succefully fight the next attack.
Along with this shitophaladi churna may be take, three to four times aday, in one teaspoonful dose mixed with honey. The powder if taken alone may cause little irritation in the throat. Therefore it should be thoroughly mixed with the honey and made to linctus considerably to linctus before intake. This makes the medicine palatable and easy to take. In the same manner, and same dose, powder may be used.
There are many other medicines in ayurveda for the treatment of bronchial asthma. Some medicines containing minerals product are also useful in asthma like swas-kash-chintami rasa,kanakasava, swas-kuthar-rasa.etc. These medicines as they contains minerals should be taken under the supervision of the ayurveda physician.
The patient should strictlu avoid curd, butter-milk, banana, guava and fried things. At night, he should take light food and as far as possible should avoid all sour things. Dry grapes (Khismis and Munakka), pulses like kulattha are useful in this condtion. Smoking should be avoided and intake of tea and coffee should be minimized. Alcoholic beverages can be taken but only in small quantity.
The patient should not expose himself to rain and severe cold-wind. He should not indulge in hard exercise.