What is Asthma?

It is a chronic lung condition where peoples’ airways are susceptible to triggers which causes them to have difficulty breathing.  This is due to the airways narrowing from inflammation and excessive mucous. The triggers can vary from allergens such as pollen and dust to weather and temperature changes. People can also develop asthma post exercise.  It affects 1 in 10 Australians and can occur at any age.  Many believe that children with childhood asthma simply out grow it, but this is untrue, the asthma may appear dormant but it never goes away completely.  This is why so many were affected by the ‘Thunderstorm Asthma’ event in Melbourne recently.  Many people who suffer hay fever are also prone to suffering asthma.

Asthma Symptoms

The main symptom of an asthma attack is the wheezing sound made due to the constricted airways. There can be a tight feeling in the chest and coughing amongst other respiratory symptoms. Many Asthma sufferers will be aware of the signs of an impending attack and use an inhaler to help dilate their airways.  Many elderly patients now are being given preventers as they are presenting to medical clinics with breathing difficulties.  If you feel you are developing Asthma symptoms, then it is advised to see your GP to be properly diagnosed.  As an adjunctive treatment, Acupuncture can help improve your respiratory health so you can breath more freely and rely on medications less.

Asthma in Chinese Medicine

Though in Western Medicine the causes of Asthma are largely unknown, there are theories within Chinese Medicine that try to explain why Asthma occurs. The Lungs and Kidneys play the key roles in respiration, the Lung energy descends and the kidney energy rises up to grasp it.  As children are young and under-developed, their Kidney energy is weak and can’t grasp properly so they can suffer asthma.  Others due to congenital reasons have weak Lungs or Kidneys so they are prone to Asthma since childhood.  Similarly external factors such as extreme hot or cold weather combined with pollen can cause the Lungs to constrict or dry out creating an asthma attack.  In Chinese Medicine the pollen can also act as a pathogen we call dampness, which causes the excessive mucous production which can also lead to an asthma attack.  If the Lungs are weakened over a prolonged period then it leads to the Kidneys becoming weak at grasping the breath and causes long-term asthma.

Acupuncture as a Treatment for Asthma

As the cause of Asthma is either environmental or allergic factors which stop the lung energy from descending, Acupuncture is used to try and clear these obstructions, so Lung function can return to normal.  Plenty of research has already shown Acupuncture is effective in reducing allergic rhinitis by reducing inflammation and supporting the immune system. A similar approach is used for treating asthma, with the goal more focused on the Lung organs themselves than just the nasal passages.  As always the goal of my treatments is to work on prevention, so by using Acupuncture to strengthen Lung function we can work towards reducing the severity and occurrence of Asthma attacks.

For those with a congenital weakness, we try to help strengthen the Lung-Kidney relationship as well as improve the body’s immunity so it isn’t as susceptible to pollens and environmental triggers.  The goal similarly is to reduce the frequency and severity of flare ups and attacks to improve your quality of life and overall health.