Blog written by: Dr Anju Balakrishnan
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the chronic inflammation of the lungs which results in obstructed airflow. It is mainly caused due to tobacco smoking. COPD is one of the main causes of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Emphysema is a condition where the elasticity of the lungs will be diminished so that it becomes difficult in exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide. It is mostly seen in middle-aged persons, and males are more probable to have this condition due to smoking habits.
Smoking, dust, pollen and other environmental factors act as triggering factors for COPD. The most common cause is tobacco smoking. The more years person smokes greater the risk factors. The risk will be more in asthma patients having smoking habits. Occupational exposure to chemicals, fumes, and dust is also one of the causative factors. A genetic disorder is also another cause of COPD.
Signs and symptoms of COPD
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities.
- Tightness of chest.
- Frequent respiratory infections.
- Productive cough with white, yellow or green sputum.
- Lack of alertness.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Weight loss.
In COPD, due to the inhalation of toxic fumes, there will be inflammation and swelling of lung tissue. The lung tissue damage will lead to narrowing, and there will be mucus hypersecretion. Due to these pathological changes, there will be limited airflow and other physiological changes resulting in above said clinical features.
In Ayurveda, these symptoms are mentioned under Pranavaha srotho dushti. Due to various food and lifestyle activities, the srothas (i.e., the channels) will be obstructed, and increased mucus secretion will hamper the normal airflow. In this case, the body doesn't get adequate oxygen leading to the fibrosis of lung tissues. In the classics, the symptoms like difficulty in breathing, prolonged breathing, disturbed patterns of breathing, painful breathing, and abnormal sound during breathing has been mentioned.
Ayurvedic management of COPD
As per Ayurveda, COPD can be managed by means of Nidana parivarjana (i.e., avoiding the causative factors), shodhana (purificatory procedures) like panchakarma and shamana (i.e., pacification treatment to be followed).
Various Ayurvedic herbs like Haridra (turmeric), Pippali ( long pepper), Shunti ( dried ginger), Kantakari, Ashwagandha, Guduchi ( giloy), Hingu (asafoetida) etc., are explained in classics which works wonder in respiratory conditions.
Diet and lifestyle modifications have to be practised along with treatment procedures. Regular exercise and a hygienic environment with a healthy diet will improve the quality of life. Intake of ushna (hot) and laghu ( light) diet is indicated in such conditions. Intake of barley, green gram, bitter gourd, ginger, garlic, spinach, drumstick, grapes, gooseberry, lemon, and honey is indicated. Along with this, regular practice of yogasana and pranayama (breathing exercises) helps to enhance the equilibrium of both mind and body by enhancing blood circulation. It is also very much helpful in enhancing lung ventilation.