Asthma is a chronic condition, an allergic inflammation of bronchial tubes that causes breathlessness, wheezing, chest tightness and coughing. Over 5.2 million people in the UK have asthma, and tends affect children and the elderly (over 65) over younger adults.
Asthma sufferers tend to have an increased sensitivity in their bronchial tubes to allergens or other stimuli. When exposed to such allergens or stimuli, the bronchial tubes become inflamed, resulting in increased mucosa secretion and narrowed airways, triggering asthmatic symptoms.
While asthmatic symptoms, for many, can be controlled by conventional medication such as inhalers, it can worsen or become a life-threatening condition when a severe or long-lasting asthma attack (Status asthmaticus) fails to respond to a routine treatment. Chronic asthma can also cause further impairment of respiratory function or cause other complications such as chronic obstructive pulmonary syndrome (COPD), affecting long-term health and quality of life.
Asthma is called “Xiao Chuan” in Chinese medicine, meaning wheezing and breathlessness. Chinese medicine believes that asthma is a systemic condition rather than just a pulmonary one. Multiple factors such as genetic endowment, immaturity, enduring illness, aging, faulty diet can play a role in the onset and development of asthma. These factors can weaken various organs (deficiency of Lung, Spleen or Kidney). The weakened and dysfunction of these organs cause enduring deep-seated phlegm to accumulate in the lung. When external exogenous pathogenic factors (such as wind cold or wind heat) invade the body, it activates deep-seated phlegm causing lung Qi to lose its breathing function etc., and trigger asthmatic episodes.
In order to give effective treatment, a TCM practitioner would carry out a “syndrome differentiation” – to find out which syndrome pattern relates to: superficial or interior stages, cold or heat pattern, excess (e.g. phlegm retention in the Lung) or deficiency (of Lung, Spleen or Kidney) nature. a most appropriate treatment plan can be established accordingly.
Based on their own skills and experience, practitioners may choose either Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture or to combine the two to treat their asthmatic patients. Other relevant therapies such as cupping, moxibustion could also be used as part of the treatment plan. At the initial consultation, your experienced TCM practitioner will establish your case history before setting out a treatment plan tailored to your asthmatic condition.
Source: Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM) UK