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Eastern and Western Approaches Bring Relief

By Dr. Hong Chen (over 20 yrs experienced)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the term for Asthma is attributable to two conditions. One is the wheezing symptoms known as Xiao and the other is the short breath symptoms known as Chuan. Wheezing (Xiao) is characterized by palpitations of breath and dyspnea with wheezing sounds in the throat and lungs. The main symptoms and signs of short breath (Chuan) are palpitations, breathing difficulty and shortness of each breath without wheezing in the throat and lungs. In TCM clinics, the two are treated differently.

Wheezing symptoms are caused by smooth muscle spasms, swelling of the  bronchial mucosa, and hypersecretion of mucus, which leads to bronchial obstruction. An attack is mainly induced by "wind with cold" or "wind with heat", and contact with allergens such as pollen, dust, germs, and food sensitivities.

Short breath symptoms are caused by the imbalance of ascending or descending of vital energy (Chi). The kidneys are in charge of ascending and descending vital energy (Chi).

In tems of TCM, asthma mainly has a cold type, heat type and deficiency type. My clinical records show more heat and deficiency types of asthma in Canada, due to North American lifestyles and environment. In Canada, most asthmatics suffer because of high pollen count, lack of fresh air, eating and drinking too much high energy foods and fried (high heat) foods. These activities cause excessive heat in the lungs during which they will fail to stay moist. An asthmatic would feel a shortness of breath and a tightening in the chest. They may also feel hot and have a dry mouth with red tongue and lips. These symptoms are usually accompanied by eczema, high fever, and allergies, etc.

In addition, working hard, with long overtime hours, tight deadlines and long driving distances, contribute to the condition. A chronic source of stress and there is an imbalance of energy between kidneys and lungs. These asthmatics would feel palpitations and shortness of breath with low energy and fatigue.

Case History of Heat Type Asthma (Wheezing Symtoms)

  Mary, 45, has suffered from asthma for 10 years, Her symptoms included dyspnea with wheezing. Further, she was irritable, had an oppressed sensation in the chest, even gasping for breath. She had yellowish, mucooid sputum when coughing, was always thirsty, had a rapid pulse and a reddened tongue coated with yellow, slippery, greasy fur. The inhaler and drugs she used never relieved her asthma symptoms. She have had attack five times emergency at hospitol. She wanted to try Chinese herbs.

I diagnosed her asthma as the heat type of wheezing (Xiao) symptoms. The treatment was based on eliminating the heat phlegm of the obstructed bronchi, so as to ventilate the bronchi of lungs ans also facilitate the flow of lung energy to relieve asthma. I prescribed a herbs and , within a week, there was a big improvement. The yellowish mucoid sputum decreased and the wheezing sympoms were obviously improved. The asthma was relieved! The herbs that I used to remove heat phlegm were substances such as Ban Xia, Bei Mu. etc. To relieve asthma, the herbs were substances such as Xin Ren, San Bai Pi, etc. Other herbs, such as Huan Qin, She Gan, etc. can  be used to cool and expel heat in the lungs and moisten the bronchial airways. Following a further four-week course of herbs, the symptoms were gone.

Case History of Deficiency Type Asthma (Short-Breath Symptoms)

Lese, 22, had been plagued with asthma for 15 years. He had suffered attacks every week, especially when swimming, running and doing hard labour. The inhaler he used four times a day for 15 years did relieve hes asthma symptoms. However, because of the long-term use of the inhaler, he knows he consumed a lot of poisonous chemicals in his body and wanted to find a natural way to cure his asthma. TCM was his first choice.

His body constitution was weak, pale tongue with little fur, weak pulse; this indicated his asthma belonged to deficient type of short breath (Chuan) symptoms. Treatment involved tonifying lungs and kidneys to balance energy. I used such herbs as Tu Si Zi, Bai Sa Sen, etc. These herbs strengthen the function of lungs and kidneys to keep a pure flow of Chi energy. As a result, asthma attacks were relieved. After he took the herbs for the prescribed four weeks, he did not use the inhaler any more, and he felt more energy. I told him:"You must take another two months of herbs for build-up." He followed my advice and now a few years have passed without a single asthma attack.

A person with allergies, weak kidneys and asthma needs to take herbs for a long period of time following th initial relief of symptoms. This will help restore vital energy and build a strong immune system to enhance resistance against asthma. Meanwhile, avoid high-energy, high-heat food such as chocolate, hot spices, alcohol, smoking and allergy-inducing foods such as seafood, milk etc. Avoid getting over-tired and reduce stress. Breathe more fresh air. Moreover, an exercise program such as Tai-Ji Chi Gon is helpful to asthmatics.

Note: this article has been published on July/Augest 1999, issue of Vitality magazine. For more information please contact Dr. Hong Chen at Chen Acupuncture Herbs shiatsu Centre, 33 Lowbank (Steeles. E/ Bestview(between bayview and Leslie) /Harrington/Lowbank). Tel: 416 221-9074 

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