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Asthma: Ayurvedic Treatment, Herbal Remedies, Causes and Symptoms


It is a condition marked by recurrent attacks of paroxysmal dyspnoea, with wheezing, due to spasmodic contraction of bronchi, inflammation or allergy. It is called as “shwasa” a condition where number of respiration per minute increases and there is difficulty in respiration also.

Causative factors

Long continued inhalation of dust, poisonous smoke, dry wind, pollens, chemical dyes, colours, petrol fumes, working in a very cold and damp atmosphere, can result in asthma. Dry, cold, and heavy food like cheese, stale meat, fermented foods, aerated cold drinks, fish, and other sea – foods can cause asthma.

Various debilitating diseases like heart disease, kidney disease, and brain disease may be causative factors. Depletion of the body’s resources from excessive purification by purificatory procedures (such as Panchakarma practices) and severe weakness due to loss of plasma, blood, and ojas also result in asthma. Often asthma may be result of trauma, either emotional or physical, accompanied by the suppression of emotional expression. The asthmatic may suppress anger or attachment and become plagued by unfounded fears related to past trauma, not necessarily relevant to the present situation.


Vitiation of Vata and Kapha, low digestive fire resulting in the production of ama and weakness of respiratory channel are the main factors. The disease originates in stomach and manifests in the respiratory channel. Prana and udana types of Vata are vitiated.


Ayurveda has classified this disease in 5 types: tamaka, urdhwa, china, maha and kshudra. Of these types, tamaka can be labeled bronchial asthma, while Maha, china and urdhwa are different types of dyspnoea that are complications of other diseases. Kshudra is a minor type due to overeating and drinking.


When the attack starts, the person gasps for breath, accompanied by a wheezing sound with cough, as the expiration becomes longer than the inspiration. During the attack, the  respiratory rate increases from normal 18 to 20 per minute to 40 to 50 per minute. The respiration is very difficult and there is sensation of suffocation in the chest. Cough with or without sputum is an associated symptom. When the attack subsides there is a slight cough and pain in the chest and abdomen. Weakness and breathlessness after mild exertion remains.

Although the disease has been classified into 5 different types, the treatment of bronchial asthma depends on whether there is predominance of Vata or Kapha, the stage of the disease, as well as strength of the patient.

In Kapha type, it is characterized by cough with abundant sputum, which can be sticky or clear and white in colour . The lungs are full of mucous. The attach takes place at the time of the morning or evening when Kapha is predominant.


In acute attack, oleation and sudation should always be performed. For oleation, apply a warm mixture of sesame oil with rock salt to the chest. For local sudation of the chest, attach a tube to a pressure cooker containing herbs and water and carry out the sudation with the vapour coming out of the tube. If necessary, a whole body sudation should be done in a sauna or specially prepared steam chamber. If the patient is strong, and there is excess accumulation of Kapha in the respiratory system, then a medicated emesis is the treatment of choice. For this it is best to use seeds of randia dumetorum with honey. If this herb not available, use 1 gm. Calamus powder mixed in 1 gm. Powder of glycerrhiza with honey or simple decoction of licorice.

Sitopaladi  powder should be given with warm water or honey repeatedly. Some important herbs are solanum xanthocarpum, clerodendron serratum, adhatoda vasika, elusine, coracana, abias webiana, terminalia belerica, camphor, ocimum sanctum, and trikatu. Combination of any three herbs in equal parts in dose of 1 to 2 gms. A day for 15 days gives beneficial results. Proper use of guggulu, shilajit, Rasasindura rasa should be done whenever it is necessary.

Kapha type – when there is excessive kapha in the respiratory tract, use rasasindoora 15 mgm, 36 to 4 times, or purnachandra rasa (YR) 15 mgm, till the attack subsides, or give shawasa chintamani rasa (BR)  or swarna bhoopati rasa (BR) 10 mgm; repeatedly.

During the attack, give a bronchodilator and anti – spasmodic herbs such as lobelia, vasa, or ephedra 125 mgm; with warm water every 10 minutes. When the attack subsides, use wild cherry bark, root of mullein, coltsfoot leaves and flowers, datura, or lungwort. For preventing recurrence, these medicines play an important role.

Rasayana treatment – For giving strength to the respiratory channel, proper rejuvenative herbs should be used.

Vata type – A special type of rejuvenating method called “unit increase and unit decrease” should be used. This is known as Vardhamana Rasayana. The procedure is as follows: take 50 cc of milk and 50 cc of water, add one piper longum fruit and boil for ten minutes. Take out pippali and drink the mixture. On second day put 2 piper longum fruits in the mixture and repeat the procedure. Every day, increase the piper longum by one until the seventh day, and then reduce piper longum by one each day. Piper longum gives strengthto, the respiratory tract and prevents the severity of attacks. When this is not available, use tonics appropriate to the constitution like sida cordifolia, licorice, bayberry, garlic, or cloves.

Kapha type – Use piper nigrum or black pepper as above (i.e.by unit increase and unit decrease method).

Use mixture of talisadi powder 1 gm. + mica oxide 10 mgm, + with deer horn oxide 10 mgm; twoce, a day for 1 month to prevent recurrence. If this is not available, use western lung tonics like comfrey root, slippery elm each 1 gm. With honey for 1 month.


Avoid cold and refrigerated drinks and foods, heavy foods. And dairy (like hard cheese), fried substances, too sweet, and too salty substances.

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