The Gerson Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine

Scott Gerson, M.D., Ph.D. (Ayurveda) Medical Director, Jupiter Medical Center Dept. of Integrative Medicine Division of Education and Research






Lake Mary Clinic, Gerson Ayurvedic Spa, and Panchakarma Facility: at 635 Primera Blvd. Lake Mary, Florida 32746

Jupiter Medical Center at The Calcagnini Center for Mindfulness
1210 S. Old Dixie Highway, Jupiter, Florida 33458, Suite M-117.2




 Telephone: (561) 263-MIND (6463); option 2 (407) 549-2800

The Ayurvedic Diagnosis and Treatment

of Chronic Bronchial Asthma (Svasa Roga)

© 2006 Scott Gerson, M.D., Ph.D.


A detailed description and differential diagnosis of a group of disorders involving respiratory distress (dyspnea) is given in all three of the major Ayurvedic compendiums. These diseases are collectively known as svasa roga, of which five varieties are described. These include: maha svasa, urdhva svasa, chinna svasa, ksudra svasa, and tamaka svasa. The last variety, tamaka svasa, corresponds to chronic persistent bronchial asthma of allopathic medicine. In Ayurveda, it is considered the only type of respiratory distress which can be controlled, and then only with diligence on the part of the patient and physician. In striking similarity to the modern allopathic description, tamaka svasa is defined in Ayurveda as a chronic and recurring condition characterized by dyspnea, cough, airflow obstruction, and wheezing. Although the concept of atopy and hyperreactivity were unknown, Ayurveda was clear on its understanding of this condition as multifactorial, including environmental and emotional factors.


The prevalence of both adult and childhood asthma is reported to be increasing worldwide. Up to 10% of people have experienced a documented episode of asthma. In the United States , approximately 12 million individuals have been diagnosed with asthma. Between 1982 and 1992 the prevalence of asthma increased from 34.7 to 49.4 per 1000. In addition the death rate from this condition actually increased from 13.4 to 18.8 per million. The mortality rate was five times higher in African Americans than in Caucasians.

Etiology/Risk Factors

Vagbhata gives a clear explanation of the causes and evolution of asthma. In all cases there is an antecedent period of aggravation of both Vata and Kapha doshas. A very great number of factors can be responsible for aggravating these two doshas, and to list them all would not be possible. However several vitiating factors are specifically mentioned by Vagbhata and therefore merit mention. He cites chronic diarrhea due to indigestion which goes untreated, excessive vomiting, poisons, anemia, fevers, excessive exposure to dust, smoke or strong wind, trauma to the vital organs, and drinking very cold water.

At this early stage in the disease process, if these signs and symptoms are recognized and properly treated by pacification and elimination of the aggravated doshas, the disease (asthma) will not appear. However, if left untreated and if further aggravated, Kapha will obstruct the movement of Vata in the chest area. Due to this obstruction, Vata spills out of its normal channels (srotas) and spreads in all directions, carrying with it the vitiated Kapha dosha. As a result, the three major channels in the chest region become blocked and, to a greater or lesser degree, dysfunctional. These channels are Prana Vaha Srota (governs respiration), Anna Vaha Srota (governs digestion of food), and Udaka Vaha Srota (governs water distribution). At this point the disease is no longer in its incipient stage and asthma --tamaka svasa-- has manifested.

The role of psychological stress in asthma is important but not yet completely understood. Not only is there emerging evidence that stress can precipitate asthmatic exacerbations but also that it may be an independent risk factor in the prevalence of the disease. [1] The mechanisms involved in this association have not yet been fully defined and may involve increased production of proinflammatory cytokines. [2]

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of this disease are vividly enumerated in both the Caraka Samhita and the Astanga Hridayam and are worth noting:

-the breathing becomes very fast and audible

-the patient becomes tremulous on occasion

-there is chronic nasal discharge and stiffness of the head and neck

-there is excessive thirst

-the patient coughs constantly, sometimes to the point of senselessness

-if the obstructing phlegm does not come out during the cough, the patient becomes exceedingly miserable and after expectoration there is relief for some period of time.

-the throat becomes inflamed and he speaks only with great difficulty

-due to his dyspnea (difficulty breathing), he does not sleep even after lying down in bed.

-breathing is difficult while lying and there is some relief with sitting

-the patient desires to have hot things

-the eyeballs are gazing upwards (i.e. wide open) and perspiration appears on the forehead

-the mouth is dry

-there are periods of frequent attacks of dyspnea followed by periods of no attacks

-the condition is aggravated by the onset of clouds in the sky, rain, cold breeze, drinking cold water, wind coming from the east, and regimens and diets which are cold in quality.

The clinician trying to establish a diagnosis of asthma should determine that:

· Episodic symptoms of airflow obstruction are present.

· Airflow obstruction is at least partially reversible.

· Alternative diagnoses are excluded.

A careful medical history, physical examination, pulmonary function tests, and additional tests will provide the information needed to ensure a correct diagnosis of asthma. Clinical judgment is needed in conducting the assessment for asthma. Patients with asthma are heterogeneous and present signs and symptoms that vary widely from patient to patient as well as within each patient over time. However, there are signs and symptoms which are common to most patients in whom the diagnosis of asthma is made (see Table 1).


Although a full description of the other four types of svasa roga (dyspnea, or difficult breathing) is beyond the scope of this paper, a few comments are in order. Ksudra svasa is the mildest form of svasa roga; it roughly corresponds to mild intermittent asthma and is said to be curable. Tamaka svasa (asthma) is the next mildest form of svasa roga yet it is considered difficult to cure. It roughly corresponds to mild persistent asthma in the modern allopathic classification scheme. Cure is possible if the disease is of recent origin or if it occurs in an otherwise strong and health individual. In a weak individual only palliation (i.e. alleviation) should be attempted. The other three types of svasa roga, namely maha svasa, urdhva svasa, and chinna svasa loosely correspond to other more severe forms of obstructive pulmonary disease, are incurable, and in time result in the premature demise of the patient.


While an individual's constitutional type must always be kept in mind when developing a treatment plan for any disease, asthma is nevertheless generally treated by pacifying Vata and Kapha doshas. The treatment will always include two main strategies:

a) purification therapies (panchakarma) to eliminate the vitiated doshas.

b) herbal therapies to help re-establish normal physiological function in the affected tissues and organs.

However asthma is highly variable in its course and clinicians need to tailor their treatment plans to the needs of each individual patient. The general Ayurvedic principle is to initially gain control of the disease as quickly possible with strong Vata and Kapha purification measures which are then followed with appropriate herbal therapies.

Purification Therapies

Oleation and Fomentation Procedures

Patients must first undergo oleation therapy (snehana); this includes both external and internal forms of oil treatment. External oleation by daily oil massage should be administered first, for 7-10 days. The best oils in tamaka svasa are: narayana oil, talispatra oil, amra oil (from mango seeds), or chandrabala oil. Next, patients undergo internal oleation with daily intake of an appropriate unctuous substance for 3-7 days; this is usually pure or medicated cow's ghee which should be at least six months old. During this period, patients have simultaneous sweat, or fomentation, therapy (swedana). This usually includes both general "steam box" treatments as well as pinda sweda. The latter therapy involves the placement of hot boluses of rice and special herbs wrapped in a cloth over certain points of the body. These points are called marma sthula and are similar to the Chinese acupuncture points.

Laxative Procedure

Following snehana and swedana therapies, a one-time virechana, or laxative therapy, is administered. Castor oil (Ricinis communis) in a dose of 2-3 tablespoons is generally used for this.

Therapeutic Vomiting Procedure

Finally, vamana, or theraputic vomiting therapy should be initiated; this is the most important therapy in diseases involving respiratory distress. This usually involves three consecutive mornings when, following a light breakfast, patients are given an emetic herb (i.e. madana phala) and then asked to fill the stomach with cool water or milk to induce vomiting. Correctly performed, this is not at all uncomfortable and does not produce nausea. Weaker, very elderly, acutely ill, or cardiac patients however should not be given vamana therapy.

After completing these purificatory treatments, patients are given herbal therapies. The most efficacious in my experience are the following.

Review of Ayurvedic Herbal Medicines


Tylophora asthmatica or Tylophora indica (antamoola) is an Ayurvedic medicine claimed to treat respiratory disorders in which mucus accumulation is a symptom [3] . The leaves are used for asthma, bronchitis, common cold, dysentery, and rheumatism. It is believed to have cathartic, diaphoretic, emetic, and expectorant effects. This indigenous plant is recognized as a bronchodilator [4] .

Shivpuri et al. conducted several studies on the treatment of asthma with Tylophora indica. In the preliminary uncontrolled study there was a relief of symptoms lasting a few weeks in 40‑50% of patients who chewed 1 leaf /day for 3‑6 days [5] . Two follow‑up crossover, controlled, double‑blinded studies were performed by Shivpuri et al. with leaves and an alcoholic extract of Tylophora [6] , [7] . Results showed complete to moderate relief of symptoms as compared to placebo: 62% chewing leaves vs. 28% placebo and 58% alcohol extract vs. 31% placebo. Also, relief of symptoms lasted 8‑12 weeks in some patients. Patients who chewed leaves experienced a high incidence of side effects: sore mouth, vomiting, and loss of taste. Side effects were less pronounced with use of the alcoholic extract. In a controlled, unblinded study, Shivpuri showed that 71% of asthmatics had increased bronchial tolerance to an inhaled antigen 2 days after treatment with leaves [8] . On follow-up, nine patients continued to demonstrate protection against inhalation challenges from 9 to 48 days after stopping treatment.

In two crossover, double blind studies by Thiruvendagan et al., patients showed reduction in nocturnal dyspnea after receiving a powdered leaf capsule as compared to placebo, but none demonstrated significant difference in other symptoms as compared to placebo or a capsule of standard medication containing ephedrine, theophylline, and phenobarbitone. There was a steady increase in maximum breathing capacity (MBC), vital capacity (VC) and PEF over 7 days with the Tylophora capsule as compared to placebo. These effects also differed from those of the standard medication that produced quick but transient rises in values [9] . However, Gupta et al. acquired opposite results to the above studies. In his double blind study, no statistically significant difference was noted in symptom scores and pulmonary function tests after patients took powdered Tylophora leaf or placebo [10] .

In 1975, Haranath et al. studied the mode of action of aqueous extract of Tylophora asthmatica [11] . Tylophora prevented anaphylaxis and reduced Schultz -Dale reactions in guinea pigs. Tylophora also produced an initial leukocytosis followed by a reduced lymphocyte and eosinophil count in dogs. It had mild, brief antispasmodic action on contractions in tissues induced by histamine, Ach, and serotonin (5‑HT). This suggests that its primary action is not the antagonism of histamine or choline. Also, it apparently has no beta‑agonist effects because it produced a fall in blood pressure despite addition of propranolol.

Gore et al. studied the physiological basis of Tylophora by comparing its effects to a known bronchodilator (isoprenaline). In asthmatic patients there was a significant improvement in lung function tests. There also was an increase in urinary 17‑ketosteroid levels and decreased absolute eosinophil count [12] .

Udupa et al. examined the effects of extracts of Tylophora on adrenal gland and the pituitary‑adrenal axis in rats. Extracts of Tylophora increased the weight of adrenals and decreased cholesterol and vitamin C contents. It also antagonized dexamethasone/hypophysectomy-induced suppression of pituitary on adrenal activity. These results indirectly suggest that Tylophora indica might act by direct a stimulation of adrenals [13] .

The major ingredient in Tylophora is tylophorine, an alkaloid. Gopalakrishnan investigated this alkaloid for its anti‑inflammatory and immunological effects. The results showed that pre-treatment with tylophorine provided 70% protection against anaphylaxis in guinea pigs. It also inhibited Schultz‑Dale reactions and immunocytoadherence. Immunocytoadherence or rosette formation is the method by which antigen is bound to red cells and these cells adhere in vitro to lymphoid cells with corresponding antibody. Tylophorine inhibited mast cell degranulation by diazoxide (an agent that produces mast cell rupture by reducing cAMP levels in cells), but did not affect histamine release in mast cells incubated with tylophorine alone. Gopala­krishnan suggested that tylophorine might act by increasing cAMP levels. [14]


Picrorrhiza kurroa, or kutki, is a small herb with tuber­ous roots that is used in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of liver and lung diseases (asthma, bronchitis), fever, anemia, dyspepsia, chronic dysentery, and arthritic conditions. It is claimed to have antiperiodic, cathartic, and laxative effects. It contains phenol glyco­side androsin, kutkin, D‑mannitol, vanillic acid, kutkiol, kutkisterol, and apocynin [15] . The powdered root is used in medication and potentially has immunomodulating activity in cell‑mediated and humoral immunity. [16]

In one study, 10 asthmatics were given pow­dered Picrorrhiza kurroa root b.i.d. for 14 days. Shah et al. noted an improvement in asthma symptoms in six asthmatics and improved lung function changes (FEV,) in four patients. Four patients had side effects ranging from headaches, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain to insomnia and giddiness.[17]

Mahajand et al. demonstrated that pre-treat­ment powdered root of Picror­rhiza kurroa decreased sensitivity to histamine in guinea pigs.[18] The severity and duration of allergic bronchospasm was reduced. Also, total histamine content in lung tissue was re­duced. Pretreatment with Picrorrhiza inhibited histamine and slow reacting substances of anaphylaxis (SRS‑A) release in chopped lungs. Picrorrhiza kurroa also enhanced isoprenaline and adrenaline bronchodilator effects in the animals.

In a random double‑blind trial, 72 asth­matics were treated t.i.d. with Picrorrhiza kur­roa root powder and placebo. Doshi et al. noted some initial clinical benefit. Despite this, there was no significant evidence of reduction in clinical attacks, need for bronchodilators, or improvement in lung function.[19]

Dorsch et al. identified androsin, a phenol glycoside, as the active compound in Picror­rhiza kurroa. In a randomized, controlled, crossover study, it prevented allergen and PAF‑induced bronchial obstruction in guinea pigs. Other unknown compounds inhibited PMN leukocyte histamine release. [20]


Albizzia lebbek, or shirisha, is an indigenous tree used for bronchial asthma and bronchitis in Ayurvedic medicine. It contains saponins. Tripathi et al. studied asth­matic patients who were treated with this plant and showed reduced histamine levels and elevated cortisol levels. Treated guinea pigs also were protected from histamine‑in­duced bronchospasm. As a consequence, Tri­pathi further explored the effects of histamine and Albizzia. In a 1979 controlled study, 18 guinea pigs were treated with distilled water, histamine, or histamine plus alcoholic extract of Albizzia lebbek bark. Plasma cortisol, cate­cholamine, and histaminase levels were mea­sured and lungs and adrenals were examined. Histaminase levels were high in both groups but were highest in histamine‑treated groups. The cortisol levels were high in the histamine group and highest in the Albizzia group. Cate­cholamine levels were highest in the histamine group, indicating stress. Histologically, the adrenals in the Albizzia‑treated group had larger cells and nuclei with many microvacu­oles, indicating hyperactivity. Also, lung tis­sue in the Albizzia‑treated group appeared normal as compared to bronchospasm and lu­minal obstruction in the histamine group. Tri­pathi concluded that Albizzia counteracts the effects of histamine either by possibly neu­tralizing histamine directly or by causing in­creased cortisol production. [21]

In 1981, Tripathi et al. examined the effect of histamine and Albizzia on catecholamines. [22] Twenty‑four guinea pigs were treated with control, histamine, or histamine plus Albizzia lebbek extract for 7 days. Adrenal glands were examined for medullary noradrenaline and adrenaline granules. Catecholamine lev­els were high in the histamine group and near control levels in Albizzia‑treated group. Also, granule and medullary size and number were increased in histamine‑treated group and re­sembled the control group in the Albizzia­ treated group. In the previous study, plasma histaminase levels were increased in the Albiz­zia‑treated group. Tripathi stated that the re­duction in catecholamine levels in Albizzia­ treated groups may be due to production of histaminase (see previous study) or a possible antihistaminic activity in the plant itself. Also, the previous study noted a rise in cortisol level with Albizzia that Tripathi believed might help in suppressing histamine‑induced reactions such as the increase in catecholamines.

Johri et al. examined the effects of Albizzia seed extract and pure saponin fraction on rat peritoneal mast cells. [23] Active and passive anaphylaxis were induced in rats and their mast cells were collected. Results showed that ruptured mast cell numbers were reduced with the Albizzia extract and fraction and with disodium cromoglycate (DSCG). Johri concluded that Albizzia and its saponin derivatives protected mast cells from allergen‑induced degranulation similar to di­sodium cromoglycate, and may potentially have mast cell stabilizing activity similar to that of DSCG.


Adhatoda vasica (vasaka or malabar nut) is used in India for cough, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, glandular tumors, consumption, diar­rhea, dysentery, cough, fever, jaundice, and tuberculosis. Its leaves were smoked. Its leaves and roots were prescribed by Ayur­vedic practitioners as a mucolytic, antitussive, antispasmodic, and expectorant. In other cul­tures, the fruit is used for bronchitis and the root is used for asthma, bilious nausea, bron­chitis, fever, gonorrhea, and sore eyes. The es­sential oil is claimed to have expectorant, anti­tubercular, and antihelmintic effects. Active chemicals are considered to be alkaloids, vasi­cine, vasicinone, and vasicinol.

The pharmacological action of the alkaloids in Adhatoda vasica were studied as early as 1959. Amin and Mehta studied vasicinone for its action on guinea pig trachea and perfused lung and on intact guinea pigs. Vasicinone antagonized histamine‑induced constriction, but was less effective than adrenaline. A quinazol‑4‑one ring is found in vasicine and vasicinone and may be responsible for the action of Adhatoda. Vasicinone is the auto‑oxidation product of vasicine.[24] Cambridge et al. stated that in vitro tests showed relaxation of guinea pig tra­chea rings by vasicinone and quinazol‑4‑one at about 1/2000 the activity of adrenaline.[25] Vasicinone was 1/700 and quinazol‑4­one was 1/3800 as active as adrenaline against histamine‑induced contraction. In in vivo stud­ies of anesthetized guinea pigs, vasicine produced bronchoconstriction at high doses. Vasicine and vasicinone were found to have a weak antihistaminic effect which was of short duration. Vasicinone had less antihistaminic activity than vasicine and the effect decreased at higher doses.

Lahiri and Pradhan studied vasicinol, an al­kaloid from the roots of Adhatoda vasica. [26] The results were compared to those of vasicine and vasicinone. Vasicinol caused a transient fall in blood pressure in cats, guinea pigs, and rats and the effect was reversed by atropine in cats. It caused negative inotropic and chrono­tropic effects on guinea pig hearts that were blocked by atropine. Cat respiration was slightly increased and blocked by atropine. It also potentiated ACh‑induced bronchospasm but inhibited the action of histamine. No con­traction in guinea pig tracheal chain was noted. Vasicinol contracted guinea pig ileum, enhanced the contraction caused by Ach, and was blocked by atropine. It also potentiated ACh contractions in frog rectus abdominus. No analgesic or toxic qualities were noted. Similar results were seen with vasicine except it had no effect on guinea pig ileum and re­laxed the tracheal chain at low dose. Vasici­none had no effect on blood pressure and res­piration in cats. It relaxed the tracheal chain and slightly contracted the ileum with potenti­ation of ACh and blockage by atropine. These results indicate that vasicinol has a cholinergic nature. The therapeutic effect of Adhatoda may be explained by vasicinol's antagonism of his­tamine‑induced bronchoconstriction. Also, vasicinone acts as a bronchodilator, whereas vasicine bronchoconstricts at high dose. As discussed, Arvin attributes the beneficial ef­fects of Adhatoda to the autooxidation of vasi­cine to vasicinone.

To clarify the action of vasicine and vasici­none, Gupta et al. studied their effects in vivo and in vitro. [27] Vasicine reduced blood pressure in a dose‑dependent manner in dogs that remained unaltered by pressors, carotid denervation, or vagotomy. Vasicine had nega­tive inotropic and chronotropic effects that were greater in combination with vasicinone. Vasicine also had direct vasodilatory effects. Vasicinone alone had no cardiovascular ef­fects. Vasicine stimulated respiration in anes­thetized dogs in a dose‑dependent manner. The respiratory effects were reduced in carotid sinus denervated, vagotomized, decerebrated, and atropine‑pretreated animals. Respiratory stimulation was also seen in rabbits. Vasicine increased ciliary movements when applied to frog esophagus and inhibited bronchial secre­tions in dog tracheas. Vasicinone had no effect. No antitussive activity was noted with either alkaloid.27

Gupta concludes that the effects of Adhatoda vasica can be attrib­uted to the bronchodilatory effects and in­creased ciliary movements by vasicine, and potentiation of bronchodilatory effects and an­tagonism of cardiac depression by vasicinone.27 By stimulating respiration, vasicine probably improves ventilation and helps expel tracheobronchial secretion, adding to the claims of expectorant activity in Adhatoda vasica.


Coleus forskholii is an Ayurvedic anti-asth­matic herb. It has bronchodilator effects. It is considered to be an antispasmodic, diaphoretic, sedative, anodyne, antidotal, anti­septic, antitussive, carminative, expectorant, febrifuge, pectoral, preventative (cold), and tonic. In Korea , leaves are used for colds, cough, and dyspepsia. It is claimed to increase intracellular cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) by acting directly on the catalytic sub­unit of the adenylate cyclase system. This may offer an advantage by bypassing p‑surface re­ceptors and overcoming tachyphylaxis. [28]

In a randomized, double‑blind, controlled, four‑period, crossover study, Bauer et al. stud­ied the effects of dry colforsin powder in 16 asthmatics. [29] Colforsin or forskolin is a de­rivative of Coleus forskholii. Specific airway conductance was measured after exposure to fenoterol, a known beta‑agonist bronchodilator, and colforsin capsules. Fenoterol metered­ dose inhaler (MDI) showed a greater increase in airway conductance, followed by dry pow­dered fenoterol capsules, and then colfor­sin. The dry powdered colforsin (forskolin) showed measurable bronchodilation in asth­matics by elevated FEV-1 values. After 30 min, colforsin showed 16 ± 2% changes in FEV, as compared to fenoterol MDI and capsules (29 ± 3% and 30 ± 3%, respectively). After 120 min, fenoterol airway conductance and FEV, was unchanged, but colforsin‑affected values returned to baseline. No serious side effects were observed in patients. Mild to moderate tremor, restlessness, and palpitations were re­ported after use of fenoterol MDI and feno­terol capsules. Colforsin capsule‑ and placebo-­treated groups experienced less severe side ef­fects. A decrease in potassium levels was noted after fenoterol use but no change was observed in colforsin‑ or placebo‑treated pa­tients.

Kaik et al. demonstrated in a double‑blind crossover study that forskolin had bronchodi­lating effects that were initially as good as fen­oterol in healthy nonsmokers. [30] At 3 and 5 min, forskolin protected against ACh‑induced bronchoconstriction as effectively as fenoterol, but at 15 and 30 min, fenoterol was stronger.


Solanuum xanthocarpum, or kantakari, is commonly used in Ayurveda as a bronchodilator, expectorant, and antitussive. The entire plant is used and contains saponin-like alkaloids [31] .

Bector and Puri treated a total of 60 patients with different types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with 2 grams bid of the powdered whole plant.[32] In the 22 chronic bronchitis patients, improvement in cough frequency and severity was noted in 3-20 days. In 16 chronic asthmatics, 13 reported slight improvement in the severity of asthmatic attacks. Significant improvement was reported in 10 patients with unproductive nonspecific cough. No change was noted in status asthmaticus.

In another study by Bector, et al. 305 asthmatic patients were treated with a powdered form of the whole plant in a dose of 1 gram tid for one month. Fifty percent of the patients reported subjective improvement in their respiratory status without any reported adverse effects.

Jain, et al. studied 26 asthmatics who were treated with powdered S. xanthocarpum at 1 gram tid

and noted a mean improvement of 22% in FEV-1[33].

Herbal Preparations[34], 16, 17

1. Kantakari (Solanum xanthocarpum)

a) Four parts of the root of kantakari, two parts powdered black pepper and one part asafoetida are boiled in eight parts of water and reduced to one-fourth. After this decoction cools down, add equal amounts of honey and pippali (piper longum) and mix well. Dosage: two ounces three times daily.

b) The dry leaves are mixed with the powders of eranda root (Ricinis communis) and haridra leaves (Curcuma longa) and smoked in a pipe lubricated with ghee.

2. Antamoola (Tylophora asthmatica)

b) Decoction of the whole plant plus leaves of fruits of antamoola (Tylophora asthmatica),

haritaki (Terminalia chebula), and roots of Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra). Boil and reduce to one-fourth. Dosage: two ounces three times daily.

3. Vasa (Adhatoda vasica)

The powder of a mixture of the leaves and roots of vasa (Adhatoda vasica) are combined with dasamoola* ("ten roots") and ardraka (Zingiber officinale, or ginger root), all in equal amounts

Dosage: 2-3 grams twice daily.

(*The ten roots of dasamoola are: patala, agnimantha, syonaka, bilva, gambari, kantakari, brhati, salaparni, prsniparni, and gokshura. It is quite renown and available from any reputable supplier of Ayurvedic herbs)

4. Shirisha (Albizzia lebbek)

A powder known as eladi churna is made from 1 part cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), 2 parts cinnamom (cinnamomum zeylandicum), 3 parts nagkeshara (Mesua ferrea), 4 parts black pepper (Piper nigrum), 5 parts roasted borax, 6 parts pippali (Piper longum), and ten parts unprocessed cane sugar (gur). It is available already prepared.

Two parts of eladi churna is then combined with one part each of the powders of shirisha (Albizzia lebbek), ardraka (Zingiber officinale, or ginger root) and kantakari (Solanum xanthocarpum). Dosage: 2-3 grams three times daily.

5. Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa)

Powdered kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa) is combined with pippali (Piper longum), haritaki (Terminalia chebula), and onion powder in a 4:2:1:1 ratio. Dosage: 2-3 grams three times daily.

6. Coleus (Coleus forskholii)

This herb is commonly taken as a single standardized herb in a dosage of 450-650 mg. t.i.d.

with 3-4 ounces of ginger tea.

Dietary Recommendations in Chronic Asthma

According to Ayurveda if a proper diet is followed, any medicines utilized in the treatment of a chronic disease will increase in effect; conversely, if a proper diet is not followed, even the best medicines will be diminished their effectiveness. Consequently, Ayurveda has developed a system of dietary prescription known as pathya-apathya, meaning simply healthy foods-unhealthy foods, for every disease. Dietary therapies are emphasized in the treatment of chronic conditions and have much less of a role, if any, in the acute setting.

The general recommendation for patients with bronchial asthma and bronchitis is to favor foods which help decrease the Kapha dosha and which are light, warm, and slightly pungent in taste. Specifically, foods which are recommended (pathya) include: basmati rice which is one year old, barley, amaranth, artichoke, deep-seawater fish (salmon, tuna, swordfish, halibut, mackerel, etc), watercress, swiss chard, cabbage, radish, pomegranate, pears, chickpeas, lima beans, mung beans, lentils, garlic, mustard seeds, cayenne, cumin, coriander, black pepper, and ginger root.

Foods which are to be avoided or seldom used (apathya) include those which are heavy, sticky, cold, and mucous-producing. In addition, in asthma Ayurveda recommends limiting the intake of raw foods to approximately 20% of the total diet. Specifically we would advise limiting fresh water fish, dairy products including milk, butter, and cheese (except for goat's milk which can be used occassionally), salt, all nuts, wheat products, white flour, white sugar, okra, sweet potato, yams, cucumber, pickles, bananas, mango, coconut, dates, and avocado.

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[3] Hackman RM, Stem JS, Gershwin ME: Complementary and alternative medicine and asthma (review). Clin Rea Allergy Immunol 14(3):321‑336 (1996).

[4] Duke JA: A Mini‑Course in Medical Botany. Internet, http://www.inform.umdedu/Edges/ Colleges /LFSC/life sciences/.plant biology

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[6] Shivpuri DN, Motion MPS, Parkash D: A crossover double‑blind study on Tylophora indica in the treatment of asthma and allergic rhinitis. J Allergy 43(3):145‑150 (1969).

[7] Shivpuri ON, Singhal SC, Parkash D: Treatment of asthma with alcoholic extract of Tylophora indica: a crossover double blind study. Ann Allergy 30:407412 (1977).

[8] Shivpun DN, Agarwal MK: Effect of Tylophora in­dica on bronchial tolerance to inhalation challenge with specific allergens. Ann Allergy 31(2):87‑94 (1973).

[9] Thiruvengadan KV, Haranath K, Sudarsan S, et al: Tylophora indica in bronchial asthma. J Indian Med Assoc 71(7).172‑176 (1978).

[10] Gupta S, George P, Gupta V, et al: Tylophora indica in bronchial asthma‑double blind study. Indian J Med Res 69:981‑989 (1979).

[11] Haranath PS, Shyamalakumari S: Experimental study on mode of action of Tylophora asthmatica in bronchial asthma. Indian J Med Res 63(5):661‑670 (1975).

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