Name: Dr. Nikki Chaturvedi
City/Country: Delhi/ India
I have been suffering from asthma for the past 10 years. As a practitioner of conventional western medicine, I opted for prescription drugs and a bronchial dilator to get relief. When I was a House Surgeon, I became interested in Complementary forms of Medicine, and decided to try Ayurveda, because it heals with Nature. My best friend is from Kerala, and she assured me that the purest form of Ayurveda is still practiced in that state. So, before joining for my post graduate course, I took a break and went there. I consulted a famous vaidyar- or Ayurvedic physician- who took a careful medical history and made a detailed physical examination, to determine a treatment plan best suited to my constitution. According to Ayurveda, asthma can be related to any of the three primary factors- Vata, Pitta or Kapha – that govern all the functions of the body. These three vital energies are carefully balanced in a unique ratio in every individual, and any imbalance causes disease. When a Vata imbalance is dominant the throat is aggravated. There is dryness which shrinks the bronchial trees and leads to wheezing. When a Pitta imbalance is dominant, the bronchia are more reactive which creates toxins that clog the bronchia and make breathing difficult. When a Kapha imbalance is dominant, lubrication and moisture balance are disturbed and generate too much mucus which causes allergic asthma.
My treatment was a two step procedure. I first underwent a therapy called ‘snehana’ which included both external and internal forms of oil treatment. Specially prepared herbal oils were massaged into my skin for 10 days. This was followed by a daily intake for 7 days of pure medicated ghee made from cow’s milk. During this period, I also underwent a sweat or fomentation therapy called swedana. It involved steam box treatment as well as placement of hot boluses of rice and special herbs wrapped in a cloth over certain points of the body. Following snehana and swedana therapies, a one-time laxative therapy, was administered. Finally therapeutic vomiting therapy was initiated- this is very important in diseases involving respiratory distress. This completed the purification, or first part of the treatment. The second part involved herbal therapies to help re-establish normal physiological function in the affected tissues and organs.
My physician also advocated changes in my lifestyle. Yoga is very helpful because the various stretching and contorting positions assumed in yoga improve the function of the respiratory tract. He also suggested I take up swimming for it is an excellent exercise to strengthen the lungs. My diet includes lots of celery as it has antispasmodic properties which are beneficial in the treatment of asthma. I take a mixture of 1 tablespoon of water and 2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice twice a day and alternate this with a teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction and honey to taste. A glass of 2/3 carrot juice, 1/3 spinach juice drunk thrice a day, is also another option. At bedtime, I drink a cup of milk in which three cloves of garlic have been boiled. I avoid all foods that are difficult to digest such as all animal products, milk and pulses as well fried and spicy food. At the same time, I drink plenty of fluids to facilitate easy digestion. It has been a long time now since I have had the recurrent breathlessness, wheezing, chest tightness, or coughing that had caused me such distress earlier… and I am using this opportunity to say a big “Thank You” to my Ayurvedic physician in Kerala!