Asthma – Traditional oriental Medicine for Asthma in Children and Teens

By Shihan Mary Bolz
Licensed Acupuncturist
Master of Science Oriental Medicine
Master Martial Arts Instructor

It seems there is almost a “pandemic” of asthma in young people, even among babies, in the East Bay, including Vacaville and vicinity. There is speculation among us as to why this might be.

Some of those in the health community believe it is due to the “natural environment,” meaning the kind of vegetation and trees in the area or the fact that they are blooming, etc. Some say it is the weather. Others believe it may be linked to the air pollution, either from vehicle emissions or from industry. The idea that people get allergies and asthma from the trees and vegetation is not very logical to the person who follows the way of nature. We are part of nature. Why would nature make us allergic to each other or cause us breathing problems when around certain types of plants? What about being allergic to certain animals? It’s not to say that is not what occurs, it is to say that it should not be. We were made to be able to live with other forms of life on this planet, plant and animal. What it does mean, is that there is something in our own system that is unbalanced causing our bodies to react the way they do. If the environment is to be blamed, it is much more logical to think that it is what is unnatural in it, such as the excess exhaust, pollution and human-made chemicals polluting our air, our homes, our work places and other structures. What is asthma? Asthma is characterized by wheezing or difficulty breathing due to the bronchi of the lungs becoming clogged with waste products, or constriction due to spasms, or swelling of the bronchi. Asthma may be triggered by an allergy to food, air pollution, cold air, heart weakness, previous lung damage, mental or physical fatigue, emotional disturbance, or hormonal imbalance.

In the case of a weak heart, the heart is not strong enough to push the blood through the lungs to be oxygenated, and the blood regurgitates or back flows into the lungs. In this case there will be edema and bruising as well.

Traditional Oriental Medicine divides asthma into two types: hot type, characterized by rapid, coarse breathing, yellow, sticky mucus, fever, and red face; and cold type, characterized by white, clear, or foamy mucus, cold extremities, and pale face. During the attacks, the strategy in Oriental medicine is to expel the pathogen and calm wheezing. In between attacks, the strategy of treatment is to nourish the lungs and kidneys. In the case of chronic asthma, the kidneys are most likely involved.

In Oriental medicine, the pathogen is expelled by herbal formulas specific for the individuals condition and by acupuncture with points prescribed according to the individual needs. Yes, children and teens can get acupuncture treatment. There are special needles used for the very young, babies and up to any age. Most children around 6 or 7 years old just go ahead and work with the same needles that adults do.

Bear in mind that acupuncture needles are not like hypodermic needles. They are very thin, almost hair-thin and they are filiform, meaning that they are not hollow like hypodermic needles used in allopathic medicine for injections of drugs or for drawing blood. One should think of them more like very fine pins or wires. Most needles are painless, sometimes a little pinprick sensation is felt or a burning sensation when they go in. After the needles are in, most people find acupuncture very relaxing and they experience a sensation of calmness, well-being and even euphoria sometimes. What are some of the things you can do at home to help the symptoms and the cure of asthma? Live well! Make sure you and your children get exercise on a regular basis. Exercise, yes aerobic exercise especially is very important for those with breathing problems. One can also take special breathing classes, such as Qi gong, ki kou and other ancient Asian breathing practices.

Some of the foods that help stop coughing and relieve spasms in the bronchi are: apricot kernels, almonds, walnuts, basil, carrots, pumpkins, winter melon, sunflower seeds, loofa squash, figs, daikon, litchi fruits, tangerines, loquats, honey, molasses, mustard greens, and sesame seeds. Here are some ancient home remedies from Asia: Take an unpeeled orange, stick a chopstick through it, roast until the peel blackens. Remove the peel and eat the insides; one orange daily for 7 days. Drink apricot kernel tea. Drink fresh fig juice 3 times daily. Mix 1/2 cup fig juice with l/2 cup lukewarm water and drink daily.

Foods to avoid: Mucus producing foods such as dairy foods, raw salads and sugar. Avoid cold foods, fruits, raw salads, all shellfish, watermelon, bananas, mung beans, salty foods, cold weather, and especially ice cream! (Sorry to put the damper on that one, but ice cream is one of the worst foods for a person’s health, asthma or not; it is dairy, loaded with sugar, and also cold!)

For those who are in the transition stage and can’t go cold turkey weaning themselves off of ice cream, try Rice Dream, by Imagine foods. It is made from brown rice, is sweetened with brown rice syrup and doesn’t have any preservatives or coloring. It comes in different flavors. However, it is cold, very cold and one should limit how often it is eaten. There is now available Soy Dream, which is made with soy instead of brown rice, as a replacement for ice cream. Enjoy and explore the possibilities of creating your or your children’s good health.

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