Asthma Therapy Report

Dr Abraham, Allergy Specialist, Kerala

My own experience with yoga

In 1977, before I sat for my MD final examination, I had to undergo a tonsillectomy operation. After the operation I was still disturbed by many mental and physical problems. I had aches and pains all over my body even after the operation. If I sat down to read for any extended time, I had pains in the cervical spine and lower lumbar regions as well as pains all over the body. I was also unable to concentrate. Even three months after the operation my throat always felt uncomfortable. Every morning I would get up with a minimum of twenty or thirty sneezings and running of the nose. So I was taking antihistamines, antibiotics and analgesics, depending upon the symptoms I had. But none of these things completely relieved my complaint.

Later that year, after finishing my degree in general medicine, I went for a short course at Vallabhai Chest Institute in the Department of Allergy and Applied Immunology. I mainly concentrated my study in the field of bronchial asthma. From that time onwards I became aware that allopathic medicine is not able to cure bronchial asthma. It can only alleviate the symptoms.

It was at this point that I received a Bihar School of Yoga magazine from which I learned about jala neti. I started experimenting with this simple nasal cleansing technique, and within one week the effects within my own body were apparent. From that time onwards, I have barely missed a day of this practice.

Secondly, I was cured of trachoma, which is a chronic eye ailment affecting the conjuncti and giving an almost permanent irritation to the eyes and heaviness of the lids. For the previous ten years I had been applying ointments continuously, for this complaint. From the time I started doing neti, I have not applied ointment or drops, but my eyes have been much cooler and have lost all the heaviness. In fact, I have consulted my ophthalmology professor and he also told me that all the symptoms of trachoma have completely disappeared.

Experiments with my patients

After these encouraging results upon myself, I decided to try neti with some of my patients. I concentrated mainly on cases of bronchial asthma, and during the last eight or nine months I have seen about 116 cases of both sexes, varying in age from 7 to 60. I can say with certainty that 80 to 90% of these people have shown more than 80% improvement during this time.

My explanation of asthma proceeds like this: It is a big curve, the starting point of which is called the exercise asthma and the final point is called status asthmaticus. Status asthmaticus means that the patient's oxygen demand is not met by the lungs even while resting. Exercise asthma means that the oxygen supply to the lungs during exercise is inadequate due to the tubes being in a contracted state. During rest these people can manage.

So each patient has to think of the position along the big curve at which he stands and realise that the idea of giving yogic treatment is not only to bring you back to the stage of exercise asthma, but to come back further to the stage of normality.

My approach now with bronchial asthma patients is to take one case each day for a long interview. I ask the patient for details of the ailment, duration, how it started, whether they have accompanying diseases and elaborate on each and every symptom. I check the family history of similar illnesses like allergy and the patients own history of illness. I have found that about 90% of my patients with bronchial asthma had an incidence in their family, with either a close relative, their own offspring, or one or both parents.

I also recorded any diabetic history, and made a full physical examination of the patients. I took chest measurements at both full inspiration and expiration, recording the difference, that is the expansion of the lungs. I found that those who were nearly asthmatics, around 30 to 40 years of age, had a chest expansion of 1.5 to 2cms. After regular performance of yoga practices, including pranayama, this expansion could be increased to 4 or 5cms. In this condition they were completely normal again.

I recently imported a Peak Expiratory and Flourid Meter which gives a complete, objective analysis of the respiratory status. From this analysis we are able to tell the patient's deficiency per litre in the volume of his lungs, based upon a norm according to height and age. The first analysis gives a deficiency in centimetres which is rather crude, but the second method of analysis gives an objective assessment of the real defects present. The positive evidence of improvement of lung capacity is more encouraging to the patient than a stethoscope examination, which is not always an accurate measurement anyway.

So these are the results which I am getting by putting my patients on jala neti and pranayama. With these techniques 70 or 80% of the patients have shown about 60 to 70% improvement in their lung capacity, volume wise as well as measurement wise. Those who have improved less are more than 70 years old. The young patients have responded well and shown improvements almost to normal as far as lung measurements are concerned.

My research has been highly successful and I want to learn further yogic techniques to make the treatment even more effective. I can boldly say that yoga is the best way to eliminate asthma. Modern medicine only relieves the spasm of the bronchioles or removes the congestion of the bronchial tubes, whereas yogic methods bring the individual back to the original state of health.