What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airway in which many cells and cellular elements play a role. Associated with airway hyper-responsiveness, it is a recurrent episode of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing particularly at night or in the early morning. And most of these symptoms are often revisable neither spontaneously or with treatment.
What causes asthma?
Currently, asthma is widely thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors which count for how severe asthma is and how well it responds to medication.
Since the 1970s, the word has witnessed a rapid and significant prevalence of asthma. In 2009, 250,000 people died caused by asthma all around the word. As of 2010, 300 million people were affected worldwide.Thanks to the Western and Traditional Chinese medicine, all kinds of therapies are applied to cure or control asthma and, consequently, the prognosis are generally good.
What’s the typical way to treat asthma?
In western medicine, there is no specific and effective method to cure asthma due to the complicated and unclear etiology and pathogenesis. To effectively curb asthma, identifying triggers, such as cigarette smoke, allergens, or aspirin, and eliminating exposure to them is the most valuable and practical treatment for some of the asthma patients. If trigger avoidance is insufficient, the patients need to carry out a regular and customized medical plan to monitoring and managing symptom. The medications can be classified into fast-acting and long-acting categories. Fast-acting medicines are used to address the acute attack of asthma by relaxing the convulsionary bronchus and thus relieving the symptoms. Long-term control medicines are used to prevent further exacerbation by inhibiting and deterring the development of the airways’ inflammation.
Although the above treatments work well to some degree, we cannot ignore the adverse effects brought by the frequent intake and long term use of medicines. Glucocorticoids, for example, can significantly improve asthma symptoms and lung function, but fail to change the natural processes of the disease and, what is worse, long-term high-dose inhalation may result in skin petechiae, adrenal suppression, reduced bone mineral density, cataract and glaucoma, and other systemic adverse reactions.
How can acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine help in treating asthma?
Considering the undesirable and terrible side effects, discusses are aroused and attentions are focus on a more nature and effective therapy—acupuncture and moxibustion of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
According to the theory of TCM, asthma is mainly caused by prolonged phlegm accumulating in the interior with the attack of exogenous pathogen, or induced by mental depression, improper diet and overwork, leading to stagnation of phlegm due to adverseness of qi, obstruction of air passage, whistling sound in the throat, and finally asthma occurs.
So, how can acupuncturists help?
Unlock the meridians and collaterals: Acupuncture and moxibustion is a therapy in which points are stimulated by needles or moxibustion for activating circulation, regulating qi and blood to remove pathogenic factors and treat diseases because meridians , collaterals, organs are physiologically related and pathogenically influenced. Thus by removing the prolonged phlegm and unlocking the obstructed airways, acupuncture can handle asthma fundamentally and permanently on the perspective of etiology and pathogenesis.
Strengthen the body resistance and improve the health status: They are fundamental principles and means of acupuncture and moxibustion in the treatment of asthma. To enhance the body resistance is to reinforce the anti-pathogenic qi which can defeat pathogenic qi and fight disease. Once the anti-pathogenic qi is strengthened, the body would have more energy to eliminate pathogens of initiating asthma and finally cure the disease.
Regulate yin and yang: Generally speaking, the occurrence of disease results from a relatively imbalance of yin and yang of the body in the condition of causative factors. Having been suffering asthma for a long time, this balance is definitely and inescapably influenced and disturbed. Acupuncture and moxibustion have the function of regulating yin and yang and restoring normal physical functions. As soon as the balance of yin and yang recovered and maintained, the symptoms of asthma would disappear and the disease would be dissolved.
The above three mechanisms of acupuncture and moxibustion therapy are introduced according to the basic theories of TCM. These three aspects are related to one another and cannot be divided separately and the therapeutic effect is also the joint result coming from the three aspects.
The effect of acupuncture and moxibustion on asthma is certain. At the period of the attack, the therapy is selected for control symptoms. At the remission stage, the treatment is selected for reinforcing the resistance of the body. A majority of patients can fortunately be cured if they receive early and proper acupuncture and moxibustion treatment. Others can be relieved even if they cannot be cured thoroughly.
Besides, as few adverse effects had been reported involving with acupuncture and moxibustion treatment, this therapy can be served as a universally acceptable guide in clinical practice.
In brief, owing to the advantages of being safe and effective, simple and cheap, practical and favorable, the acupuncture and moxibustion therapy is your first choice.
British Guideline 2009, p. 3
GINA 2009, p. 2
GINA 2010, p. 3