Asthma is a common problem and tends to be aggravated when it’s cooler. According to ayurveda, asthma begins in the stomach. It is a kapha disorder, characterised by an over-accumulation of water and earth elements in the body. The mix of these is called kapha. It can accumulate when we eat foods that are rich, oily, fried and filled with difficult-to-digest ingredients (like processed cheese). The stomach throws this undigested material, called ‘ama’, into the system. This circulates in the system and begins to block the upward movement of life-giving energy, called ‘prana’.
As the blockage worsens, ama causes inflammation and airways begin to constrict. Now coughs, wheezing and chest congestion begin. At this stage, the condition can become full-blown asthma if the environment is cold and you fall ill.
Step 1: Treatment begins at the most basic – stomach congestion, which must be cleansed. Mild laxatives like rose petals, triphala and similar herbs can be used and your diet should consist only of vegetable soups, warm water and herbal teas.
Step 2: Relieve the trapped vata in the system by drinking peppermint tea or taking gel capsules of peppermint oil twice a day. Or try a decoction of ajwain and saunf water – boil a quarter tsp ajwain with half a tsp saunf till the water changes colour. Drink this while it is still hot. You can also do basic pranayam and yoga to open the channels.
Step 3: Move the congestion from the lungs to the stomach, from where it can be thrown out of the body. Many herbs aid in this: dalchini, black pepper, pippali, ajwain, tulsi, ginger, turmeric, trikatu, mulethi, vasa and mustard seeds.
Some simple home remedies are:
1. Boil ginger, tulsi and black pepper till the solution becomes dark. Sip slowly with half a tsp of honey. Do not replace the honey with sugar.
2. Boil a tsp of mulethi with a pinch of pippali powder. Sip slowly, especially when wheezing and congestion becomes worse.
3. Apply warm mustard oil on the chest and back and put a few drops into your navel.
4. Boil a few mustard seeds with a little turmeric and black pepper. Sip this slowly.
5. Take steam with a few drops of eucalyptus oil.
Caution: All these remedies are for adult onset asthma, not for childhood asthma.