Childhood Asthma: Care and Cure with TCM

By Doris Rathgeber, Founder & General Manager of Body & Soul – Medical Clinics





Pediatric asthma is a fairly common condition, with approximately 10% of children suffering from it. Kids tend to develop asthma between the ages of four and five. When an acute outbreak occurs, early symptoms are mild chest pressure and a dry cough, followed by bronchial spasm (sudden constriction of bronchi and bronchioles) causing coughing and breathing difficulties. Acute outbreaks are triggered by infections of the upper respiratory tract, allergies or exposure to pollutants. Asthma comes in different forms and levels. The lighter it is the more likely that children will grow out of it during childhood (50% of children do).


While Western Medicine generally focuses on controlling attacks, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can cure the root of the disease. Even in the most severe cases, TCM can achieve a reduction of ongoing symptoms. In TCM, asthma is called Qi Chuan Bing or Xiao Chuan Bing, which indicates a disease of breathing difficulties, with or without breathing noises. TCM understands asthma is due to an immune deficiency located in the lungs: the lung Qi (or vital energy) cannot protect the body from the intrusion of wind, cold, heat and dampness (all considered disease-causing pathogens) which in turn causes phlegm accumulation in the lungs. The phlegm then ascends inappropriately to the throat resulting in coughing and breathing difficulties. Children’s lungs are slowly maturing and still weak. This leaves children more exposed to develop upper respiratory tract diseases.


Asthma attacks are most likely to occur during rapid changes of weather or when allergy levels are high (pollen, smoke, pollution, etc.). Diet can also play a role as, according to TCM, some foods favor phlegm production. Heavy, sweet, and greasy foods as well as dairy products and seafood tend to produce phlegm in the body and thus increase the likelihood of asthma attacks. Someone suffering allergies, frequent respiratory infections or asthma should minimize such foods.


In order to treat asthma properly, the TCM physician must identify the root cause of asthma (such as retention of cold fluids in the lungs or accumulation of heat and phlegm in the lungs) to design a tailored treatment plan. Most often, outstanding results can be achieved with herbal medication. Tthe herbal decoction will be adjusted individually but would likely contain Ma Huang – a widely used herb in the treatment of asthma – to dispel the excess of fluids in the lungs and boost the lung Qi. If the child is old enough to stay still and is not afraid of needles, acupuncture could also be applied to support the cure and reduce the symptoms. Or, Tuina massage is an effective alternative.


TCM significantly improves life for the asthma sufferer as patients usually find they don’t need asthma spray or any other medication after 3 to 6 weeks of treatment. Maintaining a basic herbal therapy intake is generally sufficient to ward off attacks. In serious cases, an integrated approach is usually preferable: using Western Medicine to control severe attacks and TCM to treat the underlying causes. And while a cure is not possible in all cases, patients almost always notice a significant improvement. Plus, there are no side effects. So, if your child is suffering from respiratory ailments, check out the natural solutions available with TCM.





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Body & Soul combines Eastern medicine and Western science to provide the most natural, effective health solutions in four convenient locations throughout Shanghai. Services offered are covered by insurances and include TCM and acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractic, physical therapy, psychological counseling, podiatry and functional medicine among others. If your child is suffering from asthma or other ailments and you would like to explore natural ways to resolve them, contact Body & Soul