Chronic respiratory disease is very prevalent in both adults and adult seniors. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 revealed that respiratory diseases remain a leading cause of both disability and even death worldwide. These are diseases which include not only chronic obstructive disease (COPD) but also includes asthma, respiratory allergies, and both environmental and occupational lung diseases. This disorder specifically affects the airway and other structures of the lungs. In Chinese Medicine, lung deficiency is the main focus along with both spleen and kidney. These starting points allow the practitioner to nourish these deficiencies to help improve the functions of each organ which leads to an improved immune system. Often the therapeutic actions through Chinese Medicine is eliminating phlegm, relieving wheeze and cough, and tonifying the lung, kidney, and spleen energy which allows a reduction of dampness in the body.
General symptoms or signs of deficiency will include not only shortness of breath but also wheezing. Wheezing is referred to as xiao in Eastern Medicine and occurs when phlegm and the congested lungs energy fuse obstructing the airway and leading to shortness of breath. The three main etiologies of pathogenesis results from exterior influences affecting the lung, deficiency or post-illness, and chronic improper diet. Many diseases such as asthmatic bronchitis, cardiac asthma, allergic asthma, and eosinophilia (a high level of eosinophil -disease fighting white blood cells) involve wheezing along with dyspnea (difficulty breathing) and tachypnea (rapid breathing).
There are many herbal formulas used to treat the specific pattern of deficiency and also dependent on the phase of disorder whether acute or in remission phase. Many acupuncture meridians are used to nourish the organs of interest and strengthen the body’s defense. Nutrition plays a big part in both preventing exacerbations and in recovery as well. An improper diet injures the spleen and stomach called the middle jiao. This causes the spleen to become deficient which leads to the failure of transporting and transforming of food essence. The accumulation of phlegm-dampness will then occur which blocks the full ability of the lung energy to descent properly. The first suggestion is to eliminate all cold and raw foods from the diet. These not only over time cause deficiency of the spleen but can constrict the bronchial airway causing spasms in acute conditions. Also, eliminating any foods that may be causing an allergic reaction such as shellfish, nuts, milk, and eggs. Even French fries and avocado dips have been linked to certain asthma attacks. It is very important to avoid mucus-producing foods such as dairy, sugar, greasy, or processed foods. Rather choose warm bone broths, soups (non-dairy or cream), steamed veggies, and organic grains. For a dry cough, cooked pears with honey are very helpful to tonify the lungs.
Learning to control breathing and stress by relaxation techniques and meditation is very beneficial. Regular gentle exercise, like tai chi, with herbal therapy is often the key to complete recovery. Patients should strengthen their immune system and body resistance at least quarterly once brought back to balance. Quarterly prescribed herbal tonics with acupuncture is suggested. Avoiding cigarette smoke and various air pollutants like chemicals or mold is necessary. Changing out central heating or air filters frequently especially for asthma patients is needed along with controlling animal dander. Also avoiding products that may have harmful artificial or chemical additives plays a role in reducing attacks.
For respiratory patients who feel they are starting to get a cold, an old sage recommendation is to add fresh garlic, ginger, both mustard seeds and greens combined with scallions and cinnamon in a soupy rice porridge. Sip throughout the day to nourish the body and fight the pathogen. Also, a simple tea before bed made with lightly boiled garlic, green onions, ginger, basil, and cinnamon will help the body fight the virus and will enable a light sweat to rid of pathogen.
The lungs are a delicate organ but yet very resilient. They are also dependent on the proper functioning of other organs which are to be kept in check. Quarterly acupuncture treatments, herbal prescriptions, optimal immune function, and proper diet to nourish the middle jiao are all key components to maintaining proper lung function. This not only strengthens the lungs but acts as a preventative tool to eliminate exacerbations and an enhanced immune system. My years of working with respiratory patients with a variety of different diagnosis has allowed me to understand the burden of chronic respiratory disease and how Eastern Medicine serves as a much needed resource in both prevention and treatment. Please call to today to schedule your appointment for optimal lung health 772-626-6419