Allergies, Asthma and Ayurveda, Diet & Pranayam
Thanks to the social networking, a poor cockroach, over nightly earned the whirlwind publicity when “Cockroach Theory” was copy-pasted and received nonstop likes and forwarding. The meaningful essence for the learner from this theory is, when you are attacked by enemy, unfavorable circumstances or by an obnoxious creatures like cockroach, the need is to “Respond” by remaining calm and composed and fight back with focused attention and target specific strategies. Many of us do exactly opposite and become anxious, apprehensive, and irate and flounce everywhere. Most of the times our “Reactions” are out of proportion to the situation, wasting our energy and efforts without affecting the enemy or changing the situation. The reason behind quoting this example, is to make all of us understand the pathology (harmful process) of diseases like Allergic Cough & Cold, Asthma, Allergic rashes etc. occurring to a many of us.
Our every tissue and cell is genetically embossed with a unique personalized identity code, which, in this whole universe is exclusively marked only to you and our immunity cells are trained not to destruct the cells and organs having this code. Further, due to this cognizance of code word, our immunity system recognizes “self vs.non self” entities in the body. And Our guards of the immunity which are constantly moving and keeping a strict vigilance, so any foreign bodies (which are having different code or stamp than ours) like viruses, bacteria or any other microorganisms, toxic substances etc. which can put our life in jeopardy are constantly sieved off and destroyed by immunity and thrown out .
Once, such toxic molecule is entered in to any tissue or organ, our signaling system gets activated and sends beckoning messages to the control room from where various cadets of immunity are rushed through blood vessels & the pores of blood vessels, which are otherwise tightly closed, give way to these cadets to the site of intruders and battle begins with various macrophages, white blood cells, antibodies, toxic T cells, Natural killer cells so on and so forth, till that terrorist is captured and killed completely.
This background of battle field is essential to understand the allergic reactions and various allergic disorders, affecting number of people. Generally Immune cells are produced in proportion to the load of antigens ( toxic substances) and after the war, our immune cells stop firing but in some people, there is inappropriate reaction to the antigens and slew of immune cells are produced and sent to battle field to kill little amount of toxic antigens. As blood vessels have to carry immune cadets and to accommodate a big battalion, blood flow is also in excess and pores also open in large number causing swelling, congestion in the tissue or organ which is exhibited as warmness, redness, heaviness & pain. When this process happens in the airways of our respiratory system, we feel congested and it obstructs the free exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, hence we feel breathlessness plus in order to remove the culprit, our lungs secrete excessive mucus which also causes obstruction to breathing and constant stimulation of mucosa causes sneezing, running nose, itching in the eyes, ear, throat, salty taste in mouth. Our cough reflex is also activated to throw all mucus, loaded with culprit and dead immune cells, hence we develop continues coughing till the phlegm is expelled out. Further, even after the culprit is thrown out, our immunity system is unjustifiably active and keep on firing at the organ which ultimately damages the host tissue and causes soreness, swelling of airways, there is proliferation of number of cells and mucus which creates inflammation in the air ways and person finds difficulty in breathing, & he becomes “Asthmatic” if this occurs in nasal area then he or she develops “Allergic Rhinitis” which ultimately tend to develop to Asthma. If this pathology occurs in skin, then person develops “Allergic Rashes” or “Urticaria”. Repeated episodes of such kind of inflammation in the airways, reduces person’s capacity of breathing.
The trivial fight which could have been won by “Responding” through one or two cadets, but due to “Reaction” by our immunity, we end in harming ourselves and making our body vulnerable to develop these allergic diseases.
Conventional Treatment of Asthma & allergic rashes
In order to dilate the constricted airways bronchodilators are used which on prolonged use can loosen up the elasticity of airways and they become rigid. Plus in order to douse the hyper activity of the immunity system, Steroids are also given which suppresses firing and over secretion of the mucus. One can use steroids in an emergency situation but frequent use of it causes detrimental side effects like weakening of bones, gastric ulcer, and kidney- liver damage, steroids also increase Blood pressure and makes patient prone to develop diabetes, premature cataract, weight gain, stunning of height etc. Further, moment we stop steroids; suppressed immunity gets doubly activated and again starts firing harmful toxic immune cells.
Ayurveda’s way of managing Asthma & allergies
In Ayurveda, these issues of allergic conditions are addressed by treating the root cause of hyperactivity of a person by restoring humoral imbalance, especially vitiated Pitta (one of the functional units controlling digestion and metabolism). Many a times when this Pitta is purged out, frequency of asthmatic or other all kinds allergic episodes reduce considerably. And our immunity is restored or modulated in correct way; means the toxic, hyper reactive pathway is blocked and self limiting pathway of appropriate response is activated. Due to which once the toxic foreign bodies are expelled, immunity stops producing and sending angry soldiers. So that there is no inflammation or no over proliferation of cells, allowing free and easy exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
For Asthma, those who are having proper strength should do Panchakarma like Vaman (induced vomiting) or Virechan (induced Purgation) so that these Pitta and Kafa are expelled from the body and obstruction to the flow of Vata in the channels are removed. After these Panchakarma, anti allergic, anti asthmatic herbal medications can be taken as per the constitution of the patient, for eg. Tulsi, kantakari, Turmeric, Bharangi etc. Those who are thin and contraindicated for vamana and virechana they should directly take above mentioned herbal medicines under supervision
Diet for asthma & allergies
As vitiated Pitta ( along with Kafa & Vata) is the root cause of asthma and allergic disorder, it will be prudent to consume food which will reduce the pitta and will restore the balance of all three Humors in the body .Their diet should be directed to improve the muscular strength and reducing inflammation so recipes like sesame seeds boiled in milk or pumpkin pulp roasted in homemade ghee or almond porridge, halwa etc can be taken. Liberal use of turmeric either in milk or dal to be encouraged as Turmeric reduces inflammation and also breaks rigid bonds of thick mucus which can be expelled easily. All asthmatic and allergic rhinitis patients should take herbal tea of ginger, black pepper, Tulsi leaves, clove, and coriander seeds. They should eat less of wheat and rice and should consume more of millets like Jwari or Bajri . Once in a week all asthmatic should take Kulthi (Hoarse gram) dal. Patients of allergic rashes can try having mixed powder of black pepper- 1 or 2 pills + ginger 1/4th teaspoon and candy sugar one teaspoon, once or twice a day. All of them should strictly avoid all kinds of fast or junk food, pickle, sauces, milkshakes & they should not consume curd, non vegetarian food, heavy , fried food at night time,
All asthma, allergic rhinitis and urticaria patients should religiously do pranayaam, as deep breathing will reduce hyper activity and will relax smooth muscles of the air ways, thereby reducing spasms in the air ways and reduction in the episodes of Asthma. Plus deep breathing also helps in reducing inflammation in blood vessels thereby reducing allergic rashes.
So focused and judicious use of Ayurveda, Diet & Pranayam would enable a person to “Respond” appropriately to a painful stimulus and keep asthma and allergies under control permanently with minimum or no use of steroids and other inhalers or injections.