Q: What can I do for asthma?
A: As asthma is closely related to the dysfunction of the respiratory system, Ayurveda primarily associates the occurrence of this disease with the imbalance of the Kapha energy that sits in the head and chest region. When food is not properly digested, it can’t be reabsorbed and eliminated from the body as needed. This creates a backlog of undigested food, which in turn creates excess toxicity like mucus.
The act of eliminating waste follows a basic downward movement as the matter travels from the stomach and small intestines into the colon and out of the body. When this basic process is disrupted with the aforementioned undigested food, the downward action becomes reversed in the body and the toxicity moves up into the head and chest region through the blood. Toxicity in the head and chest equates to the moisture and density associated with the Kapha dosha, and this leads to a buildup of congestion and restriction in the air passages.
Ayurveda guides us to control asthma attacks with two primary tasks: 1) regulating digestion and 2) burning off the accumulation of mucus in the head and chest. Poor digestion is resolved primarily through a proper diet that diminishes the build-up of Kapha in the system. As an asthma sufferer, it is ideal for you to avoid eating too many mucus-forming foods like sweets, salty foods, and dairy products (except for milk). Food must be properly chewed, eaten in reasonable quantities, and not consumed for at least four or five hours before going to bed. The accumulation of mucus in the head and chest can be burned off by consuming heat-producing substances like spicy foods, ginger, and raw onions with food. An Ayurvedic healer may also settle excessive moisture in the head and chest with specific herbs that act as bronchodilators to help the body open the passages and as tonics to strengthen the lungs. Other lifestyle changes to be made in response to asthma include:
- Avoid eating dinner as it will create more mucus in the system as food remains undigested until the early morning.
- Avoid lying down too much, as inactivity will help build up more mucus in the body.
- Keep meals to once or twice a day, without snacking. This will quickly relieve the body of excess food to digest and bring it back into balance.
- Avoid heavy foods at night, which will create more stress on the digestive fire.
- Avoid drinking too much while eating at the same setting. A half cup of water is sufficient.
- Wake at the time of Vata, which is before 6am. This early activity will help dry up the mucus.
- Avoid food until later in the morning, after 10am. This will help digestion become stronger.
- Sniff a pinch of ginger and pepper powder up the nose to help open the passages.