Asthma is a respiratory disorder with recurrent episodes of wheezing and shortness of breath. Amongst chronic diseases affecting children, asthma is one of the most common. In asthma, the bronchial airways get inflamed and this results in increased mucus secretion, swelling of the bronchial linings and spasm of the bronchi. (The bronchi are the airway tubes which conduct air from the windpipe to the lungs.) As a result of this inflammation, there is obstruction to the smooth passage of air to the lungs, coughing, wheezing and tightness of the chest, along with difficulty in breathing. Why does this inflammation occur? This inflammation can be caused by allergy, external irritants in the air or by the viruses which bring on the common cold. Childhood asthma is most often dependent on a genetic predisposition to develop allergies and hence overreact to triggers in the environment.


    · Chest tightness and shortness of breath.
    · Wheezing, though characteristic, is not always noticed.
    · Frequent coughing especially at night or during exercise.
    · Rapid, shallow breathing that is usually easier with sitting up.
    · Breathing difficulty which is noticed as tightening of the neck and abdominal muscles with every breath.
    · Children with mild asthma, may not suffer overtly from wheezing or shortness of breath, but may suffer from frequent respiratory infections.

Severe symptoms of an acute attack:

    · Bluish skin.
    · Exhaustion.
    · Grunting respiration.
    · Inability to speak.
    · Mental changes, including restlessness or confusion.

CAUSES – These could be potential triggers:
· Allergens; such as pollen, dust, fur and feathers from pets or toys, house dust mites which harbour in carpets and beds, cockroaches and even some foods like milk, soya and eggs.
· Lung infections such as bronchitis and flu.
· Air irritants, such as smoke, vehicle exhaust, strong odours and paint fumes.
· Exposure to cold air.
· Exercise – running often triggers an episode while swimming is probably the least-provoking.
· Emotional stress.

It is generally seen that the chance of developing asthma increases if there is a family history of asthma or other allergies. Children with eczema often develop asthma later, esp. if the eczema is suppressed but not properly treated. It is essential that parents do not smoke as even passive smoking increases the chance of developing asthma.

DIET AND EXERCISE – Whilst treatment is on, it is best to avoid the foods which act as triggers. Avoid cold food and drinks; preferably take water warm. Drinking plenty of fresh water helps in keeping secretions loose. Herbal tea made with ajwain, tulsi leaves, pepper and ginger help. A recipe for using ajwain has been sent in by a reader, Mr. Baji Kalwachia – Take ¼ teaspoonful of ajwain seeds, roast them on a tawa/flat griddle till the seeds split, (do not allow them to burn), mix them in half a glass of warm milk, add a pinch of turmeric powder and drink. This is supposed to be very effective for colds, coughs and asthmatic conditions.

Regular breathing exercises including ‘pranayama’ are helpful. Children should be encouraged to participate in normal activities as much as possible.

Children often outgrow asthma. Without treatment, severe attacks can be fatal. From the point of view of conventional medicine, asthma has no cure and symptoms can only be controlled. However, Homoeopathy provides a holistic approach to the problem by treating the immune system, strengthening it and bringing back correct balance to reduce the oversensitiveness of the respiratory tracts. In this way, the disposition to asthma is modified as the immune system learns not to over-react to stimuli. Homoeopathic treatment will involve going into the detailed history of the patient. Mental and physical characteristics are noted and constitutional treatment is begun, which, over a period of time, modifies the immune system suitably. During acute episodes, medicines are chosen to give quick relief and usually there is no need to resort to bronchodilators or steroid medication.
In this way, Homoeopathy offers a safe and gentle option in the treatment of asthma.