There are many causes of asthma – hereditary factors, an allergy to environmental influences such as dust or animal hair; or stress, anxiety or physical exertion. Western treatment for asthma includes the prescription of cortisone and inhalers that open up the bronchial passages. Childhood asthma often disappears after a few years, but it can develop at any time in adults and although most attacks are of short duration, medical help should always be sought if the attack is serious and lasts for an hour or more, as the condition can be fatal.
In Chinese Medicine, three organs are said to cause asthma: the lungs, the spleen and the kidneys. The major cause is phlegm produced by a weakness of spleen and kidney, but a Chinese Medicine practitioner will identify the cause and nature of the complaint according to the patient’s individual medical history. Some cases of asthma respond well to kidney tonics, but if the problem is in the spleen, a different treatment will be tried. If it is the lungs which are deficient, a Chinese Medicine treatment will be geared to treating that organ. The intention is to open the lung energy to enable it to descend and clear the air passages.
Herbs such as ephedra and bitter almond seed will help to stop wheezing. The Churchill Hospital in London has been conducting clinical studies into the effects of acupuncture on asthma, and hospitals in Oxford are researching herbal treatments. Asthma responds to both herbal medicine and acupuncture, although there have been recorded cases of acupuncture actually inducing an attack in susceptible patients and it should of course only be administered in skilled hands.
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