Childhood Asthma: A Chinese Medicine Perspective
Chinese medicine considers that childhood asthma occurs due to an inability of the young child’s organism to process and adapt to the information received.
In our current world, starting even before birth, the child is exposed to factors that overload his or her system, making it very difficult to cope.
The excessive use of ultrasound, pollution, pesticides, unhealthy diet and vaccine schedules too close together contribute to this scenario. As do, cesarean births and feeding formula; both affect the formation of the microbiome (the colonies of bacteria that are responsible for adaptability to the environment).
Factors like diversity in food and exposure to nature promote the TH1 cells of the immune system that protect the body against disease. Modern life switches the cells into TH2 type responsible for the allergic response.
Asthma in children is considered an inflammatory process, not just a bronchospasm. Every child has different triggers, such as: heat, cold, dryness, humidity, exercise or lingering pathogens from previous injuries to the organism (viral infections, colds, accidents) that affected the airways making them hypersensitive. Under normal circumstances the body should be able to adapt to these stressors; it is when the inflammatory processes, normal to promote growth and development, become excessive that the organism is pushed into down regulating giving rise to asthma and other conditions.
From a Chinese medicine standpoint the function of the Lung system at birth is to activate all the rhythmic processes of the body: heart, CNS, and digestion. It is also responsible for establishing a boundary between the inside and outside world; the Lungs and skin are closely connected.
The Spleen rules the child’s development up to the age of 8. It is in charge of digestion and assimilation. The immature Spleen is easily overwhelmed; when this happens inflammation arises.
Chinese medicine describes 5 patterns of asthma.
- Lung centric. With symptoms of dry cough, wheezing, constipation and sorrow.
- Spleen/Liver/Kidney centric. With gastrointestinal dysfunction, indigestion, IBS, reflux, gas, emotional attachment disorders, separation anxiety and wet cough.
- Lung/Kidney/Heart. With pain while breathing and inability to catch the breath.
- Liver/Spleen/Lung. Hyperactive child prone to frustration, irritability, spasms, cramps, anger. These kids benefit from warming up before exercising.
- Kidney/Heart/Spleen. Premature, pre-natal chronic presentation. These kids are afraid of exerting themselves for lack of resources.
The treatment of asthma is focused in strengthening the child’s system, correcting imbalances and alleviating symptoms; addressing the root of the problem, not just the manifestation.
- Herbal formulas are designed to ease breathing difficulties, navigate transitions, and to help receive and incorporate new information like vaccines. Pediatric lines are gentle, palatable and lack the side effects of stronger medication.
- Supplements like krill or fish oil and magnesium can help calm the neuro-gastric immune system, reduce inflammation and relax the musculature of the bronchi preventing spasms.
Always consult a licensed practitioner.
Pro d Seminar. Treating Inflammation in Children Part One: Asthma and Eczema.
Efrem Korngold, OMD and Stephen Cowan, MD