Blog written by: Dr Anju Balakrishnan
In Ayurveda, the respiratory system is considered as Prana Vaha Srotas (channel of prana), which are the channels responsible for carrying the vital energy or Prana throughout the body. These are responsible for the exchange of gases, i.e., oxygen and carbon dioxide. According to Ayurveda, when the Prana Vaha Srotas are balanced, the individual experiences good health and vitality.
The health of the respiratory system is closely linked to the balance of the doshas or the three energies that govern the body. In Ayurveda, the three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, and each dosha has a unique influence on the respiratory system.
Vata dosha governs the movement of air and the nervous system. When Vata is imbalanced, it can lead to dryness and irritation in the respiratory system, which can cause coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
Pitta dosha governs digestion and metabolism. When Pitta is imbalanced, it can cause inflammation and irritation in the respiratory tract, leading to conditions like bronchitis and asthma.
Kapha dosha governs the structure and lubrication of the body. When Kapha is imbalanced, it can lead to excess mucus production and congestion in the respiratory system, which can cause conditions like sinusitis and respiratory infections.
Ayurveda recognizes that maintaining healthy Agni or digestive fire, as well as proper elimination of waste products in the body, can also impact respiratory health. The digestive and respiratory systems are closely connected, and imbalances in one can affect the other.
Ayurvedic treatments for respiratory problems focus on balancing the doshas and promoting healthy digestion and elimination. This may involve herbal remedies, dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and various cleansing techniques known as Panchakarma.
Ayurvedic herbs commonly used to support respiratory health include haridra (turmeric), ginger, yastimadhu (licorice), tulsi, and eucalyptus. These herbs have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and expectorant properties that can help clear congestion, reduce inflammation, and support healthy respiratory function.
One has to practice pranayama (breathing exercises), yoga, and meditation to support overall respiratory and mental health. Pranayama exercises like Kapalabhati and Bhastrika can help clear the respiratory passages and improve lung capacity, while yoga postures like the Cobra Pose and the Fish Pose can help open up the chest and improve breathing.
In addition to these practices, Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and reducing stress. Stress is known to weaken the immune system and increase the risk of respiratory infections, so practising stress-reducing techniques like meditation and mindfulness can be beneficial for respiratory health.
Overall, Ayurveda offers a holistic approach to managing respiratory problems that take into account the interplay between various bodily systems and the individual's unique constitution. By promoting balance and harmony in the body, Ayurveda can help prevent and manage respiratory problems and improve overall health and well-being.