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Ayurvedic Approach to Bronchial Asthma (Tamaka Swasa): Effective Ayurvedic Treatment Strategies

Ayurvedic Approach to Tamaka Swasa (Bronchial Asthma): Effective Ayurvedic Treatment Strategies


Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath may be called tamaka Swasa (Asthma). Tamaka Shwasa a disease of Pranavahasrotas can be correlated with Bronchial Asthma. Shwasa is the result of increased vayu and imbalanced kapha blocking the pathways of prana, udaka, and annavaha.

Bronchial asthma is a persistent inflammatory condition affecting the airways, causing repeated instances of wheezing, difficulty breathing, chest constriction, and cough, especially during nighttime or early morning hours.

According to Ayurveda, Swasa is predominantly a result of the imbalances in the Vata and Kapha doshas.Swasa is categorized into five main types: Mahaswasa (major difficulty in breathing), Urdhawaswasa (difficulty in exhaling), Chinna swasa (irregular breathing), Kshudra swasa (minor breathing issues), Tamaka swasa (bronchial asthma).

Classical symptoms of Bronchial Asthma (Tamaka Shwasa) include:

·       Breathlessness along with forcible expiration 

·       Cough

·       Wheezing is a common symptom for those suffering from asthma.

·       Tightness of chest

·       Thick mucus sputum

·       Aggravation of the above symptoms during the night and early morning

·       Fainting during the bought of cough.

·       Sleeplessness,

·       discomfort increases when lying down on the bed

·       Gets comfort in sitting posture.

·       Sweating on the forehead.

Five types of Shwasa as per Ayurveda

·         Maha shwasa, as described, appears to be a condition characterized by severe respiratory distress primarily attributed to aggravated vata dosha in Ayurvedic terminology. Symptoms include fainting, distorted vision, abnormal facial expression, obstruction of urine and feces, weak voice, and extreme fatigue. This type is not considered curable by Ayurveda.

·         Urdhvashwasa, as described, is another respiratory condition outlined in Ayurvedic texts. caused by kapha obstructing the channels of respiration leading to the aggravation of vata. Symptoms include a longer expiration with shallow inspiration and the person experiences fear, fainting, extreme dryness of mouth, and restlessness. This type is not considered curable by Ayurveda.

·         China shwasa, as described, represents a severe respiratory condition within Ayurvedic understanding and is indicated when the breath is completely interrupted due to affliction of prana vayu. Symptoms include the obstruction of the airway and suffers great feeling of cutting the marma or vital energy, sweating, unconsciousness, red and teary eyes, difficulty breathing and discoloration of the skin. Death comes quickly if the obstruction is not removed.

·         Tamak shwasa, characterized as chronic asthma within Ayurvedic understanding, presents a comprehensive set of symptoms and factors which include neck stiffness, kapha rhinorrhoea (thin mucus), and rhonchi (rattling wheezing sound). Many chronic attacks over time deplete prana and during an attack, the eyeballs are prominent, with faintness, sweating, severe cough, difficulty expelling phlegm, the voice is hoarse, and there is difficulty speaking. There is difficulty lying down to sleep and requires sitting up. This type in the early stages is considered curable.

·         Kshudrashwasa, described as allergic asthma, presents a distinct set of characteristics within Ayurvedic principles that will subside on its own and is caused by the intake of dry food and over-exertion. Vata is mildly vitiated in the kostha and moves in an upward direction to the respiratory tract.. This type is curable if the person improves strength.

Causative Factors for Bronchial Asthma or Shwasa

·       Aahar (foods that increase vata), vihar (activities that increase vata), ruksha (dry foods), intake of cold water, excessive salt intake, exposure to cold windy weather, exposure to dust, smoke, and excessive sex.

·       Aahar (diet), Vihar (activities), eating dense foods like banana and black gram, abhisyandi (Kapha producing), unboiled milk, sour curd, and red meat.

·       Eating foods that are too heavy at dinner and living in a cold and damp climate.

·       Intake of dry, cold, heavy, incompatible food and irregular intake of food

·       Excessive Intake of black gram, beans, sesame, meat of aquatic animals.

·       Intake of cold water and exposure to cold climate

·       Exposure to dust, smoke and wind, Toxic fumes

·       Excessive exercise, overindulge in sexual activity

·       Trauma to the throat, chest, and vital organs.

·       Suppression of natural urges.

·       Excessive kapha-provoking foods with heavy/cold qualities

·       Excess meats from marshy or aquatic animals

·       Irregular meal times or foods

·       Heavy foods obstructing channels

Samprapti - Pathogenesis of Tamaka Swasa

Elevated levels of kapha dosa result in a blockage of the respiratory system channels, known as avarodha in the pranavahastrotas, which in turn leads to a hindrance in vata dosa. This obstructed vata dosa starts moving in the opposite direction, known as pratilomanavayu. The increased vata dosa contributes to dryness, disrupting the moist and smooth tissues within the air passages, resulting in constriction and breathing difficulties.

Diagnostic tests in Bronchial Asthma:

1. Pulmonary function tests include Spirometry and peak flow which estimate the narrowing of the bronchial tubes and how fast an individual can breathe.

2. Chest X-ray is useful in differentiating asthma from other lung diseases. 

3. Allergy tests help find the allergen causing the asthma. 

4. Methacoline challenge test and Nitric oxide tests are confirmatory tests in Bronchial asthma.

Treatment modalities of Bronchial Asthma in Ayurveda: 

As per the Ayurveda, Bronchial Asthma is a Vatakaphaja disease, it begins in the stomach and progresses to the lungs and bronchi, often requiring attention due to its chronicity. Hence treatment aims to move the excess Kapha back to the stomach and then eliminate it. For this purpose following methods are adopted. 

1. Swedana (Sudation)

2. Vamana (Therapeutic emesis)

3. Virechana (Therapeutic purgation) These procedures will be followed as per the needs of individual patients.

Engaging in Pranayama, taking laxatives, consuming a light dinner, and drinking warm water can be beneficial in managing Asthma.

Chronic asthma, known as Tamak shwasa, can be managed while allergic asthma, or Kshudrashwasa, can be treated according to Ayurveda. These two types of asthma affect over 70% of people. Rare cases like Maha, urdhava, and chinashwasa are more challenging to cure. For individuals in good health, shodhana virechana and shaman chikitsa, along with dietary adjustments and herbal treatments, are recommended. Weaker individuals with asthma receive treatment like vatanashaka and kaphanashaka, along with anupana. Proper diet, lifestyle changes, and Ayurvedic remedies can help manage asthma for an extended period of time.

Single herbs beneficial in Bronchial Asthma (Tamaka Swasa) 

·       Ginger – it helps in decreasing inflammation and decreasing and managing asthma symptoms

·       Turmeric – it helps prevent asthma attacks and keep allergies at bay, thus reducing the chronicity of respiratory issues.

·       Garlic is known for its benefits as a natural bronchodilator. – it has anti-inflammatory properties that help clear congestion in the chest

·       Licorice – it has anti-inflammatory properties that help in restoring normal breathing

·       Kantakari (Solanum xanthocarpum)

·       Vasa (Adhatoda vasica)

·       Bharangi (Clerodendrum serratum)

·       Pushkaramoola (Innula racemosa)

·       Karkataka Shringi (Pistacia inergerrima) Can help

Classical Ayurvedic Preparations for  Asthma and Chronic Cough

Vidaryadi Kwatham, Dasamula Arishtam, Karpuradi Oil  ,Thalisapatradi Vatakam, Agastya Rasayanam, Somalata churna, Kanakasava Shringyadi churna, Trikatu churna, Vasavalehyam, Kantakaryavalehyam, Vyaghriharitaki Avaleha, Agastya Haritaki Avaleha,  Lavangadi vati, Dasamoolakaturayam kashayam, Dasamoola rasayanam, balajeerakadi kashayam, nayopayam kashayam, indukantham kashayam etc 

Dos and don'ts in Asthma Conditions

  • Avoid animal foods, milk products, food items which take more than two hours to digest, and mucous-producing foods such as curd, bananas, sugar, sweets, black gram, etc.

  • Drink plenty of liquids, 8 to 10 glasses a day, to keep secretions loose.

  • Exposure to smoke, perfumes, paints, or other strong chemical odors are common culprits.

  • Change in weather, and exposure to molds, animal dander, grass or tree pollen triggers asthmatic attacks. Certain food colorings and preservatives may trigger asthma. Drugs, such as aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, beta-blockers, and ACE inhibitors can precipitate an asthma attack.

  • Avoid using perfumes as they can cause asthma symptoms to worsen.

  • Mild exercise, like swimming, is good for asthmatics.

  • During an asthma attack, sit up straight or bend forward. Do not lie down.

  • Make a paste of rock salt and old ghee or mustard oil. Rub it on the chest. Alternatively, you can massage Saindhavaadi tailam on the chest.

  • Place a hot towel over the chest. This helps to relax muscles and restore normal breathing.

  • For an acute asthma attack, try steam inhalation.

  • You should not suppress natural urges like urination, thirst, and cough. In addition, you must avoid smoking and moving in the sun.

  • Asanas such as suryanamaskaara, shashankaasana, pranamaasana, sarvangaasana, supta vajraasana, ushtraasana, hasta-uttanaasana, uttita-lolaasana, dwikonaasana, matsyaaasana are helpful. Pranaayaamas like naadi-shodhana, bhastrika, kapaala-bhaati are beneficial.

  • Constipation should not be allowed to supervene. Exposure to cold should be avoided. Edibles, which are hard to digest, should also be avoided.

  • Curd, buttermilk, bananas, guavas, and fried foods are to be avoided. All sour substances should be banned.

  • Godhuma (wheat), Old rice, Mudga (green gram), Kulattha (Horse gram), Yava (barley), Patola (snake gourd)  Use of Garlic, Turmeric, Ginger, Black pepper can act as natural bronchodilators.  Luke warm water, Goat milk, Honey can be added


Q: What is Tamaka Swasa and how is it related to bronchial asthma?

A: Tamaka Swasa is a term used in Ayurveda to describe bronchial asthma. It is a type of respiratory disorder characterized by breathlessness, chest tightness, and wheezing.

Q: What are the common signs and symptoms of tamakaswasa?

A: Common signs and symptoms of tamakaswasa include difficulty in breathing, cough, wheezing, and breathlessness.

Q: What is the Ayurvedic approach to treating tamakaswasa?

A: The Ayurvedic approach to treating tamakaswasa involves identifying the root cause of the condition, balancing the doshas (particularly vata), and using herbs, dietary changes, and lifestyle modifications to alleviate symptoms.

Q: How can virechana therapy help in managing tamakaswasa?

A: Virechana therapy is a purgation therapy in Ayurveda that helps in removing toxins from the body. It can be effective in managing tamakaswasa by cleansing the system and promoting respiratory health.

Q: What are the triggering factors for tamakaswasa?

A: Triggering factors for tamakaswasa include exposure to allergens, pollutants, cold air, respiratory infections, stress, and certain foods.

Q: Can Ayurvedic treatment strategies effectively manage chronic bronchial asthma?

A: Yes, Ayurvedic treatment strategies focusing on lifestyle modifications, herbal remedies, and breathing exercises can help in managing chronic bronchial asthma and improving quality of life.

Q: How can peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) be helpful in monitoring tamakaswasa?

A: Monitoring PEFR levels can help in assessing the severity of tamaka swasa and tracking the effectiveness of treatment interventions over time.


What is Panchakarma treatment for asthma?

Vamana and virechana for  strong patients

What food is good for asthma in Ayurveda?

Hot, spicy, and easily digestible foods 

Which Ayurvedic food is best for asthma?

Hot, warm, and spicy foods 

Which dal is good for asthma?

Moong dhal

Is paneer good for asthma?

No, it's not good for consumption. Especially if your suffering from Asthma attacks frequently.

What is the root cause of asthma in Ayurveda?

Imbalance of vata and kapha dosha and manda agni 

Is ghee good for asthma patients?

Ghee can be consumed in moderation.

Why is virechana given in Tamaka Swasa?

Virecana removes mainly vitiated Kapha and Pitta Dosha and makes Vata in Anuloma Gati.

What is acute asthma and what is chronic asthma?

Acute asthma is episodes of progressive increase in shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, chest tightness, or some combination of these symptoms, accompanied by decreases in expiratory airflow

Whereas chronic asthma is characterized by Symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. These symptoms can be mild or severe and can come and go over time





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