Asthma is a chronic disease that affects airways, and makes them inflamed (swollen).
Inflammation makes the airways sensitive and reacting strongly to allergens or irritants.
When airways react, they get narrower and less air can flow through to LU's. This causes symptoms like wheezing, cough, chest tightness and trouble breathing.
Asthma is hard to cure, but can be controlled so that the patient can have an active life. Asthma is one of the leading causes of children missing school.
In an asthma attack, muscles around the airways tighten up, making the airways openings narrower so less air can flow through. Inflammation increases and the airways become more swollen and narrower. Cells in the airways also make more mucus than usual. This extra mucus also narrows the airways. These changes cause symptoms of asthma attack, the airways can close so much that not enough oxygen gets to vital organs. This is a medical emergency.
TCM Patterns of Asthma:
Wind attacking Defensive Qi, there will be itchy nose, sneezing, runny nose, itching throat, fever, chills, cough, chest stuffiness, asthma, wheezing, white & white phlegm with bubble.
Phlegm stagnation, there will be wheezing so that can't lie down, lots of phlegm, chest distention, thick, greasy tongue coating.
Stagnation of Heat, impairing Lungs, there will be depression, anxiety, cough with little phlegm, pre menstruation syndrome, causing asthma, sticky and yellow phlegm, hypochondriac pain.
Blood stagnation, chronic process, repeated onset, chest stuffiness, bluish lips &
nails, asthma, or with slight edema, irregular menstruation.
Qi & Yin deficiency, weak cough, little sticky phlegm, dry mouth, fatigue, spontaneous sweating, night sweating, asthma getting worse with activity, heat in hands/palms/chest, sore low back and
Heart & Kidney Yang deficiency, suddenly vomiting and diarrhea with asthma process, fatigue
and anxiety, coma, oil like sweat, wheezing, spasm of muscles, cold limbs.
TCM view of Asthma, Bronchitis, COPD:
According to Western medicine, bronchitis is a disease of the lungs effecting the bronchial tubes or airways. Acute bronchitis starts suddenly and lasts only a week or two. This kind of bronchitis is usually brought on by a viral respiratory infection which may also effect the nose or sinuses. Occasionally acute bronchitis is associated with a bacterial infection and treated with antibiotics.
Chinese medicine views acute bronchitis as a pathogenic invasion of either wind-cold or wind heat. This is much the same as the Chinese medical view if any respiratory infection. Differentiations are made between wind-heat and wind-cold based on the type of symptoms and their severity.
Chronic bronchitis is a long-term condition, usually involving a productive cough (cough with phlegm) that lasts for more than 3 months. In Western medicine, chronic bronchitis is sometimes regarded as a type of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
Chinese medicine regards chronic bronchitis as a lung deficiency which may or may not have started as a viral attack, but which results in depleted lung energy (qi). It is usually accompanied by phlegm. The origin of the phlegm is usually the digestive system (spleen) which results in the accumulation of water effecting the lungs.
From a TCM point of view, asthma, called Chuan Xiao, is seen therapeutically in a similar manner to other respiratory ailments. That is, as a result of pernicious external pathogenic processes invading the lungs and effecting the Lung, Kidney and Spleen. Contributing factors include diet, chronic respiratory infections, improper care after illness, climactic change, emotional turbulence, and overstrain or “stress,” all of which leads to the retention of endogenous phlegm. Phlegm and Qi then ascend inappropriately to the throat resulting in the symptoms we call asthma. Chronic or recurrent asthma may result in simultaneous asthenia (deficiency of healthy Qi) of the Lung, Spleen and Kidney and could progress further to involve the Heart, resulting in critical conditions.
How do Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine help?
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can both improve the flow of Qi, eliminate phlegm accumulation, and improve the Lungs function. In all of the above diseases the root cause is Lung deficiency. With the accumulation of phlegm due to Lung and Spleen deficiency, the disease can go to the chronic phase.