The word ‘asthma‘ is derived from the Greek meaning ‘ panting’ or ‘labored breathing’. Asthma is a condition characterized by a paroxysmal wheezing respiration dyspnoea (difficulty in breathing), mainly expiratory.
Asthma – CAUSES
According to the etiology, bronchial asthma is divided in the following groups:
1. Allergic (extrinsic/ atopic) Asthma – This type of asthma usually starts in childhood and is often preceded by eczema. But most of the young adults (<35 yrs) developing asthma also fall in this category. Genetic factors also play a significant role i this. In this type of asthma the allergen leads to production of excessive (IgE) immunoglobulins.
2. Infective or Intrinsic Asthma – This is not hereditary or allergic, but may be caused by, or at least associated with upper respiratory tract or bronchial infection which is usually viral.
3. Emotional Asthma – Psychological factors (like anxiety, emotional stress etc) are often considered to be the sole cause of some asthmatic attacks, but it is still not certain whether it can be the sole cause or is only a precipitating factor.
4. Occupational asthma – This can occur in certain industries in which there is exposure to metallic dusts (esp. platinum salts), biological detergents, toluene diisocyanate, polyurethane, flour and dust from grains etc.
What ever may be the cause, it ultimately leads to paroxysms of bronchial obstruction produced by widespread bronchial spasm accentuated by plugging of the bronchi with excessive mucus.
Asthma – SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Recurrent episode of paroxysmal dyspnoea (difficulty in breathing)
The breathing is laboured, with a wheezing sound, mainly on expiration.
Asthma attacks often occur in the early hours of morning (when there is no immediate precipitating cause). During the attack patients often prefers to sit then lie down.
Asthma – HOW DIAGNOSIS IS DONE?
Diagnosis can usually be made clinically by a competent doctor. Allergen sensitivity tests, X-ray, spirometry, sputum and blood tests etc may be of use in finding the cause and severity of the condition.
Asthma – WHAT TO DIFFERENTIATE FROM?
- Cardiac asthma
- Renal asthma
- Isolated attacks of non-paroxysmal dyspnoea.
Asthma – COMPLICATIONS
Apart from chronicity, usually no complications.
Pneumothorax, emphysema, or areas of consolidation or pulmonary collapse may occur in very advanced cases.
Asthma – Homeopathy Treatment & Homeopathic Remedies
General Approach – Homeopathy is a system of medicine which tries to ‘cure’ this disease, instead of trying to provide symptomatic relief. While dealing with a case of asthma, a homeopath not only records the symptoms of the disease but also studies the medical history, family history, physical and psychological characteristics of a person. This helps to find the cause, the precipitating factors, and the hereditary tendency etc. Of special interest to a homeopath is the history of suppression of skin disease. Homeopaths believe that when there is a tendency or predisposition for a disease – it first manifests on the less vital organs, towards the periphery (like skin). If this manifestation is suppressed than the disease shifts inwards, towards the more vital organs (like lungs, heart, brain etc).
The fact that in children asthma is often preceded by eczema is observed by the allopaths also. This fact is written in all their textbooks of medicine. They say that children often ‘move-out’ of eczema and ‘move-into’ asthma. But they are unable to make a correlation. Homeopaths believe that the suppression of eczema with topical preparations, does not cure the disease/sensitivity of the person, it merely drives it inwards.
Now after ascertaining the symptoms and the cause, the homeopath tries to find a medicine which matches the symptoms as well as the general characteristics of the person. The medicine so selected is administered to the patient.
It is often (not necessarily) observed by homeopaths that when a right medicine is given, the asthma disappears but the old eczema or skin rash (if it was there originally) reappears for some time, before finally disappearing itself. This reappearance of old symptoms is seen as a reversal of disease process and is considered a very good prognostic sign by homeopaths.
MEDICINES – There are lots of medicines in homeopathy for asthma symptoms and it is not possible to list them all here. Some of the common medicines are ars-alb, ipecac, lachesis, pulsatilla, spongia, sulphur, ignatia, antim-tart, hepar-sulph, nat-sulph, tuberculinum etc. The selection of medicine varies from patient to patient.
This remedy is a close homoeopathic simile to asthma, especially to the spasmodic variety where the symptoms are great weight and anxiety about the chest; sudden wheezing, dyspnoea, threatening suffocation, aggravated by motion; the cough causes gagging and vomiting. The cough is constant, the chest seems full of phlegm, yet none is expectorated, and the extremities are covered with cold perspiration. Lobelia is a remedy which one usually classifies with Ipecac. It has the great oppression of the chest and a weak sensation in the chest which seems to come from the epigastrium, where there is a feeling of a lump; there is nausea, profuse salivation; the attack is preceded by a pricking sensation through the whole system. It is most useful in bronchial and septic asthmas. The breathing is exceedingly difficult, and is relieved by moving about. A pain extending around the forehead from one temple to other and a pain in the back at the last dorsal vertebra are also useful indications. Arsenicum is quite similar to Ipecac in asthma, and attacks coming on after midnight lead to the use of this remedy. With Ipecac the expiration is especially difficult; vomiting when it occurs is apt to relieve the attack.
As stated above, Arsenicum has some similarity to Ipecac, but the time of attacks is just after midnight. The patient has a great deal of anguish and restlessness; he cannot lie down for fear of suffocation. There is anxiety and general sweat, and if the patient drowses off he is awakened with burning pain and soreness in the chest. It is especially the remedy if the disease be chronic and the dyspnoea habitual and dry and the patient aged. Apis has a suffocative feeling, and the patient does not see how he can get another breath, and the Bromine patient breathes very deeply as it seems as if he could not get air enough into his lungs,while under Grindelia robusta the patient on falling asleep ceases to breathe and awakes with a start. Grindelia has been found clinically to benefit humid asthmas and acute catarrhal asthmas, and Halbert states that 5 or 10 drops of the tincture every hour during the paroxysmal state will greatly palliate. Probably in higher potencies it would act curatively for its symptomatology represents the typical paroxysmal features of this disease. It has a peculiar symptom, a fear of going to sleep on account of loss of breath which awakens him. Viscum album is also clinically recommended. It has weakness of the respiratory and stertorous breathing. The asthma of Arsenicum is accompanied by great debility and burning in the chest, and it follows Ipecac well,and is especially useful in anaemic persons. Baehr and Jousset place this remedy at the head of our list for asthma.
#Nux vomica [Nux.v]
Nux vomica is a useful remedy when the asthmatic attacks are brought on by gastric disturbances; simple spasmodic asthmas; there is some relief by belching, the patient must loosen the clothing. It must also be thought of in those who drink much coffee or liquor. Irritable bilious temperaments also correspond to the drug. Zingiber is also a remedy for asthma of gastric origin , and the attacks come on toward morning; the patient must sit up; no anxiety. A good symptom calling for Nux is a constricted felling at the lower part of the chest. Where there is much abdominal irritation present with much flatulence, Lycopodium and Carbo vegetabilis should be thought of. Carbo vegetabilis also corresponds to the asthma of the aged who are much debilitated; they are greatly oppressed for breath and are relived by belching wind.
#Kali bichromicum [Kali.bi]
The potashes produce asthmatic condition, and under Kali bichromicum we find the attacks coming on about three or four o’clock in the morning, compelling the patient to sit up to breath; he sits up and bends forward which relives somewhat, as does also the expectoration of stringy yellow mucus, which is characteristic of the remedy. It is similar to Arsenicum except for this feature of tenacious mucus. Kali carbonicum has asthma worse towards morning,with a feeling as if there were no air in the chest. Kali phosphoricum has been successfully used in asthma, especially in the nervous variety.
#Natrum sulphuricum [Nat.s]
This remedy has established a record in curing asthma. Its general symptoms are worse on change to damp weather. It was one of Grauvogl’s hydrogenoid remedies. Its symptoms are moist asthma, with a great deal of rattling in the chest. The symptom of looseness of the bowels after each attack has been repeatedly verified; in one case the patient was worse from aerated waters and alcohol. If symptoms indicating a sycotic taint be present,it will be all the more strongly indicated. The attacks generally come on about 4 to 5 o’clock in the morning with cough and raising of glairy slime; expectoration greenish and copious. The asthma of hay fever finds one of its remedies in Natrum sulphuricum, and another in Sabadilla, especially if much sneezing be present. Another symptom of Natrum sulphuricum which is characteristic is that the patient must sit up and hold the chest with the hands during the attack. Hypericum. Dr.T.F.Allen relates a severe case of asthma, having the symptoms, “dryness of the throat always worse in foggy weather,” cured by Hypericum.
#Antimonium tartaricum [Ant.t]
is a remedy used largely in some form by the allopathic school in asthma, and it is homoeopathic to certain cases. The great keynote for the remedy is the presence of fine mucous rales throughout the chest, finer and smaller rales than are found under Ipecac. With this remedy the chest seems full of phlegm, with inability to expectorate it. There is great dyspnoea, the patient must sit up, and there are suffocative attacks coming on as in the potash preparation ( and this contains potash ) about three o’clock in the morning. Like Ipecac, too, there is great difficulty in the expiratory effort. Antimonium tartaricum is especially adapted to the extremes of life, suiting the asthmatic attacks of the aged and the dyspnoea of the young children when due to pulmonary affections. The sensation that the patient cannot get air enough is characteristic of the remedy. Blatta orientalis has obtained a good clinical record in acute and chronic asthmas, and is well worthy a trail in obstinate cases; precise indications are wanting.
Intense anxiety, intense fear and a smothering sensation. It suits those of a sensitive, highly organized, nervous temperament; neurotic types when increased anxiety and nervousness predominate. Ambra grisea. Dread of people, great desire to be alone. Silphium lancinatum. Dr.A.F.Schulz, for Fort Wayne,Indiana, a very careful prescriber,uses this remedy very successfully in moist asthma with expectoration of large quantities of stringy mucus; rapidly exhausting. It is light colored or yellow. Hale states that horses are cured of the heaves by eating the leaves of Silphium. The 2x trituration is recommended.
Asthma – CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT
Bronchodilators, anti-allergic drugs, and corticosteroids are commonly used to provide symptomatic relief.
Asthma – LIFESTYLE AND DIET
Avoid the allergen you are sensitive to.
Do regular light exercise like brisk walking or jogging. Heavy exercise can precipitate an attack of asthma, so always do mild exercise without putting too much strain on your body.
Learn breathing exercises to improve your lung capacity. Of especial use is ‘pranayam’, a yoga exercise.
Learn some stress relieving exercises, meditation, or yoga to minimize the psychological factors related to disease.
Eat healthy, nourishing and well balanced diet.