Ever hear the term “bronchial asthma” and wonder what it means? When people talk about bronchial asthma, they are really talking about asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that causes periodic “attacks” of coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.
According to the CDC, more than 25 million Americans, including 6.8 million children under age 18, suffer with asthma today.
Allergies are strongly linked to asthma and to other respiratory diseases such as chronic sinusitis, middle ear infections, and nasal polyps. Most interestingly, a recent analysis of people with asthma showed that those who had both allergies and asthma were much more likely to have nighttime awakening due to asthma, miss work because of asthma, and require more powerful medications to control their symptoms.
Asthma is associated with mast cells, eosinophils, and T lymphocytes. Mast cells are the allergy-causing cells that release chemicals like histamine. Histamine is the substance that causes nasal stuffiness and dripping in a cold or hay fever, constriction of airways in asthma, and itchy areas in a skin allergy. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell associated with allergic disease. T lymphocytes are also white blood cells associated with allergy and inflammation.
These cells, along with other inflammatory cells, are involved in the development of airway inflammation in asthma that contributes to the airway hyperresponsiveness, airflow limitation, respiratory symptoms, and chronic disease. In certain individuals, the inflammation results in the feelings of chest tightness and breathlessness that’s felt often at night (nocturnal asthma) or in the early morning hours. Others only feel symptoms when they exercise (called exercise-induced asthma). Dr. Shreepad A. Khedekar has treated world famous Novak Djokovic for his EIA (exercise induced Asthma). Because of the inflammation, the airway hyperresponsiveness occurs as a result of specific triggers.
Novak Djokovic with Dr. Shreepad A. Khedekar at his clinic in Belgrade
CAUSES OF ASTHMA FROM DR. KHEDEKAR’S RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE OVER 17 YEARS.
Researchers have identified the following as either causing or having strong links to the development of asthma:
Antibiotic use in early life,
Paracetamol (Panadol Or Tylenol) use in early life,
Family history of asthma,
BRONCHIAL ASTHMA TRIGGERS
Bronchial asthma triggers may include:
Smoking and secondhand smoke
Infections such as colds, flu, or pneumonia
Allergens such as food, pollen, mold, dust mites, and pet dander
Air pollution and toxins
Weather, especially extreme changes in temperature
Drugs (such as aspirin, NSAIDs, and beta-blockers)
Food additives (such as MSG)
Emotional stress and anxiety
Singing, laughing, or crying
Perfumes and fragrances
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF BRONCHIAL ASTHMA
With bronchial asthma, you may have one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
Shortness of breath
Tightness of chest
Excessive coughing or a cough that keeps you awake at night
DIAGNOSING BRONCHIAL ASTHMA
Because asthma symptoms don’t always happen during your doctor’s appointment, it’s important for you to describe your, or your child’s, asthma signs and symptoms to your health care provider. You might also notice when the symptoms occur such as during exercise, with a cold, or after smelling smoke. Asthma tests may include:
Spirometry: A lung function test to measure breathing capacity and how well you breathe. You will breathe into a device called a spirometer.
Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF): Using a device called a peak flow meter, you forcefully exhale into the tube to measure the force of air you can expend out of your lungs. Peak flow monitoring can allow you to monitor how well your asthma is doing at home.
Chest X-ray: Your doctor may do a chest X-ray to rule out any other diseases that may be causing similar symptoms.
Asthma is a very common condition affecting five per cent of the population at one stage of life. In the Western world, up to ten per cent of children have the disease. It is certainly not confined to our epoch – Seneca the younger, a powerful Roman leader and historic figure of the theatre, described his asthma as his “last gasp”. However, he was something of a celebrity during his age and his demise was certainly not due to asthma!
In asthma the bronchial tubes narrow and this makes it more difficult to breathe. Symptoms that occur in asthma are chest tightness, coughing, wheezy breathing and shortness of breath. These symptoms may simply occur when the body has to work harder – such as on walking quickly, going upstairs or running. House dust may provoke an asthma attack if there is a history of allergy as may exposure to cat, dog or horse hair. People who suffer from hay fever may find that they get asthma-like symptoms too. It is helpful to find out if the asthma is caused by an allergy as this can offer some direction that treatment with homeopathy may pursue. Asthma patients may have a personal or family history of hay fever and/or eczema, as these conditions tend to exist together.
Conventional treatment In terms of conventional treatment, the medication available can offer reasonable control of symptoms. Bronchodilator inhalers (available on prescription) such as Salbutamol (Ventolin) and Bricanyl (Terbutaline) are designed to act on the muscles of the airways and help the air flow through. You could think of the airways as tunnels, which narrow down when there is asthma. The bronchodilators are the workmen which widen the tunnel allowing greater flow of air (the traffic). There are also steroid inhalers such as Becotide (Beclomethasone) and Pulmicort (Budesonide) which you could imagine to be the workmen who do the maintenance work in the tunnel preventing the build up of debris or do things which keep the tunnel nice and wide – they act by reducing the inflammation. If used well and if the asthma is not severe, inhalers such as Becotide can do a good job. If someone has asthma and they are already on conventional medicine I would strongly recommend that they do not stop their medication or alter it without deciding this together with a doctor. Stopping medication can result in a flaring up of the asthma and this may be confused with a homeopathic aggravation, or worse, it could be potentially very serious.
Nevertheless sometimes people do not like the thought of taking these drugs and of the side effects that can occur. The side effects of Salbutamol are generally mild and steroids used short term rarely cause problems but the long term use of steroids even if inhaled may lead to potential problems if large doses are used. Initially homeopathic treatment may be used alongside conventional treatment but eventually we wish for a reduction in inhaler use and hopefully we can wean the patient off them provided that homeopathy gives a result as good or better than that obtained with inhalers.
SIDE-EFFECTS OF CONVENTIONAL TREATMENTS
Conventional asthma medications are split into two main groups. One group dilates the constricted airways (bronchodilators) while the second group reduces inflammation.
Both groups consist of medicines that can either prevent or relieve asthma. They may be prescribed for short-term or long-term use and can be either swallowed or inhaled.
Those that are inhaled usually have fewer side effects because they work directly on the lungs. Those are swallowed affect the whole body and so produce a greater range of side-effects.
What all of these medicines have in common is that they only ever manage the symptoms of asthma, never cure them. Knowing that, let’s look at their side effects:
Inhaled bronchodilators: These medications are marketed as being relatively safe and effective. Side-effects, such as an increased heart rate and muscle shakes, usually wear off with time so are classified as minor problems. Overuse of these medications has been known to worsen asthma and increase the possibility of death.
Tablet or liquid bronchodilators: Systemic bronchodilator medications such as theophylline affect the whole body rather than just the lungs and so have a greater number of unpleasant side effects. These include: mood and behavioural changes; increased urination; allergic reactions; confusion; diarrhoea; dizziness; sleeplessness; nausea and vomiting; tremors; irregular heartbeats; and persistent headaches. Theophylline blood levels should be checked regularly to ensure the proper dose is being taken.
Inhaled anti-inflammatories: Again, because this type of corticosteroid medication is delivered straight to the lungs, side-effects are less common than when corticosteroids are taken orally. The main side-effect is yeast (thrush) in the mouth and throat leading to pain and hoarseness. The growth rate of children can also be slowed by this medication, especially if overused.
Tablet or liquid anti-inflammatories: Systemic corticosteroid medications are prescribed to reverse severe episodes of difficult-to-control asthma. They have serious side-effects, especially when used for long periods of time. For this reason they are only used as a last resort and for as short a period as possible. Side effects include:
Mood swings or depression, especially in children,
Increased appetite and weight gain,
Fattened, ‘moon’ face,
Thinning of the skin,
Restlessness and hyperactivity,
Heartburn and indigestion,
Worsening or triggering of diabetes,
Osteoporosis (brittle bones),
Cataracts of the eyes,
Reduced resistance to infection,
High blood pressure,
Impaired growth in children.
The good news is that by treating your asthma with homoeopathy all of the above side-effects can be avoided and your asthma symptoms are far more likely to reduce over time and clear completely. Let’s hear from two men who are currently being treated for their long-term asthma.
SHOW ME THE RESEARCH
Homoeopathy has consistently been effective in the treatment of asthma and other allergies in studies and double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trials. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Study One: A 1998 study involving 63 adults and children with asthma showed that of those given the homoeopathic remedy, 97% improved, 2.6% worsened, and 87.2% reduced their use of conventional medication. In contrast, of those given a placebo (dummy medicine), 12.5% improved, 16.7% stayed the same, and 70.8% worsened. None who received the placebo reduced their use of conventional medication.
Study Two: A 1997 study of 40 asthma patients who were dependent on corticosteroid drugs showed that during the course of the study, those given the homoeopathic remedy reduced their use of corticosteroids and experienced greater improvement in their asthma than those who were given the placebo.
Study Three: A 2006 Norwegian study of 200 patients suffering hypersensitivity illnesses, including asthma, showed that homoeopathy was at least as effective as conventional treatment but with none of the side effects. Those who received homoeopathy also reported a greater improvement in overall physical and mental-emotional health than those who did not.
HOMEOPATHIC TREATMENT SO WHAT HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINES ARE AVAILABLE TO TREAT ASTHMA? ASTHMA LIKE ANY OTHER CONDITION CAN BE TREATED WITH HOMEOPATHY AT VARIOUS LEVELS. THE IDEAL WOULD BE TO FIND THE TREATMENT, WHICH REFLECTS THE SIMILIMUM OF THE CASE (OR AS NEAR TO THE SIMILIMUM AS POSSIBLE). BY SIMILIMUM, I MEAN THE REMEDY THAT BEST MATCHES THE PERSON NOT JUST IN TERMS OF HIS SYMPTOMS BUT ALSO IN TERMS OF HIS PSYCHE AND THE WAY THAT HE RELATES TO OTHER PEOPLE AND TO LIFE GENERALLY. THIS WOULD OFFER A DEEPER PROSPECT OF HEALING. HOWEVER FINDING THE SIMILIMUM MAY NOT ALWAYS BE POSSIBLE AND THERE ARE MANY REMEDIES WHICH MAY BE GIVEN FOR THE SYMPTOMS OF ASTHMA. THERE ARE ALSO REMEDIES THAT CAN BE GIVEN FOR THE CAUSES OF ALLERGIC ASTHMA (HOMEOPATHIC PREPARATIONS OF HOUSE DUST MITE, GRASSES AND POLLENS ETC). ASTHMA IS A CONDITION FOR WHICH I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND PROFESSIONAL TREATMENT – I WOULD NOT ADVOCATE SELF-TREATMENT. HERE ARE THE OUTLINES OF A FEW REMEDIES, WHICH MAY BE HELPFUL IN THE TREATMENT OF ASTHMA.
TREAT YOUR ASTHMA WITH HOMEOPATHY
Homeopathy should be the treatment of choice for asthma and other allergies. It is safe and effective for babies through to the elderly. It is important to note that asthma is a chronic complaint best treated by a qualified homeopath. While some remedies discussed in this article will be found in many home-use kits because they can also treat a range of acute problems, the successful treatment of asthma frequently needs potencies and changes of remedies beyond the scope of a home kit and prescriber. For the best results please use the services of a fully qualified homeopath. The homeopathic remedies needed for asthma also vary according to the symptoms of the sufferer but some of the main ones are listed below.
ANTIMONIUM TARTARICUM (ANT-T.)
Key Symptoms: Rattling breathing and wet sounding cough with mucus that is hard to cough up. Want to be fanned. Breathlessness worse for heat.
Supporting Symptoms: Especially useful for young children or elderly patients. Irritable and want to be left alone. Do not want to be examined or touched. Weakness. Occasional expectoration of small amounts of yellow, sticky mucus.
Comments: This is a remedy for many complaints that are accompanied by difficult breathing. While it can be indicated at any age it is frequently needed at the extremes of life – i.e., infancy or old age. The person may be drowsy or lethargic its. The respiration will often be rattling but there will be difficulty in coughing up the mucus that is obviously present. Breathing may become so difficult that the person can be bluish and sound as though they are about to suffocate. In severe cases heart failure may be present. Ant-t is also a remedy that can be used during cholera and chickenpox when indicated by the symptoms.
Arsenicum Album (Ars.)
Key Symptoms: Wheezing may be present but the cough will be dry. Asthma from cold air. Asthma worse for lying; must sit upright or bent forward to breathe.
Supporting Symptoms: Asthma triggered by dampness, cold food or drinks, or watery fruit. Wheezing from allergies to cats, smoke, or dust. Thirsty for sips of warm drinks.
Comments: One of the most common remedies for acute asthma. The person will be restless and anxious, and symptoms are usually worse between midnight and 3 am. At times, the restlessness will lead to exhaustion. They will feel chilly and better for warmth, and feel better for sipping warm drinks. Those who need Ars. constitutionally are likely to be nervous, anxious, critical, and afraid of being alone. They are often perfectionists, have to keep things meticulously tidy, and can be hard to please. Burning sensations that feel better for warmth and often accompanied they are problems. Headaches however will be relieved by cold applications.
Key Symptoms: Dry asthma. Wheezing may be present but the cough will be dry.
Supporting Symptoms: Chronic bronchitis. Rattling respiration. Expectoration of profuse sticky mucus improves asthma. Suffocating sensation on falling asleep. Sleep apnoea. Breathing improved by sitting or standing.
Kali Bichromicum (Kali-bi.)
Key Symptoms: Asthma with sticky or stringy mucus. Breathing better if coughing up mucous. Cough worsened by eating.
Supporting Symptoms: Asthma often dissociated with bronchitis, sinusitis, or postnasal dripping. Wheezing during sleep.
Comments: These patients feel cold, and get sick after being chilled. Despite this, they feel worse in summer. They get mucous membrane infections, mostly in the respiratory tract. The mucous will be gluey, thick, stringy and sticky. It may start out clear and then turn white or green, and can cause ulceration. Pains can appear in many parts of the body, can migrate quickly, and can be precisely located (the patient can put a finger on the spot where the pain is). They may suffer from ulcers, including stomach ulcers.
Nux Vomica (Nux-v.)
Key Symptoms: Allergic asthma. Symptoms worse at 4am or on waking in the morning.
Supporting Symptoms: Asthma may be a associated with digestive complaints. Asthma triggered by cold air. Asthma worsened by eating. Asthma improved by warm drinks. Asthma from overindulgence with alcohol, food, or recreational drugs.
Comments: The first remedy to look at for hangovers, nausea and vomiting. Patients tend to overdo both work and play. They can work long hours and then have trouble sleeping at night due to business anxieties or nervous exhaustion. They will overindulge in food, alcohol, and stimulants (especially coffee), and may regret it later – as with a hangover. They can be irritable, short tempered, nervy and do not suffer fools gladly. They are at their worst in the morning or in cold weather. They tend to be neat and tidy, and expect the same from others. Pains may be cramping and spasmodic. Their stomach may feel heavy and sensetive to pressure. They are also very sensitive to smells and light.
Key Symptoms: Asthma from upper respiratory tract infections (head colds) that go down to the chest. Asthma with coughing and wheezing.
Supporting Symptoms: Asthma worse from lying on the left side – may improves on lying on the right side. Hoarseness with asthma. Tickling and irritating cough. Asthma from odours (even flowers) and fumes.
Pulsatilla Pratensis (Puls.)
Key Symptoms: Asthma from allergies. Asthma worse for warm, stuffy rooms and better in the open air. Asthma with thirstlessness.
Supporting Symptoms: ‘Juicy’ or green mucus with asthma. Asthma better the cold air or air conditioning. Breathing better for sitting propped up. Asthma with conjunctivitis and itchy eyes. Asthma from cats. Asthma worse at night.
Comments: Patients will be clingy, needy, sensitive, emotional and shy. Often they will have blue eyes and blond hair, and are likable. They can whine and be irritable, and are most often women or children. They are also very sensitive and can be hurt by even slight criticism. They may be chilly or warm-blooded, but in either case can’t stand stuffy rooms and feel better for fresh air. Discharges are bland, thick and yellow or green. Their emotions can change quickly and unexpected, as in from tears to laughter in a matter of minutes. They bend easily, and crave sympathy and attention from others, and make friends easily.
WHAT HOMEOPATHY COSTS?
Your first consultation with a private homeopath will usually cost between INR 500 to INR 10,000. Further appointments usually cost less – about INR 500 to INR 5000 depending on the location of the place and experience of homeopath. It will also depend on the skill level of his staff or assistants who usually take the first case and prepare it for the main consultant.
Your remedy will usually be included in the consultation price, but do check this first. Homeopathic tablets or other products usually cost around INR 100 to INR500 if you need to buy them separately in India.
Imperial clinics Mumbai
Dr. Shreepad A. Khedekar, BHMS, MD (homeopathy), a specialist for over 17 years, he has used homeopathy in his Switzerland, Belgrade and Mumbai practice for the last 17 years. He lectures in homeopathy at Switzerland, Croatia and at the Serbian Doctors Association (SLD) Teaching Centre in Belgrade and has a busy private practice in Dadar, Mumbai and at Shushrusha Citizens co-operative hospital, Mumbai and is the only Homeopath in their 60 year history.
Dr. ShreepadKhedekar is the Clinical Director, Imperial clinics Mumbai and Imperial clinics Belgrade, Consultant at Shushrusha Citizens Co-op Hospital Mumbai and Physician to several international stars and celebrities.