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 Naturopathic Medicine: Asthma Part 2 

  • There is some "the chicken or the egg" controversy on emotional aspects of asthma; some say pathologic emotions are a cause, while others say they are secondary to the disease.

  • Fear of life; not wanting to be here.

  • Fear of maternal separation.

  • Generalized fear, anger, and anxiety.

  • Personality traits of the chronic asthmatic have been noted as: marked egocentricity, impulsive behavior, impatience, domineering attitude, inflexibility, stubbornness, huge need for love and affection, jealousy, and people who are "late bloomers."

  • Asthma patients feel unloved, left out, or ignored.

  • Asthma may be precipitated by the arrival of a new family member, or during the first few years of a marriage.

  • Asthmatics have excessive dependency on the mother and later in life may show sexual disturbance. They have considerable anxiety, irrational fears, guilt feelings, and insecurity. When high goals were set, they were unable to achieve them.

  • Among the psychic factors, introversion in particular is probably important in the combination of factors affecting the inception of asthma.

  • Poor psychosocial adaptation, obsessive neurosis, immature personality, and alcohol problems are associated with static or deteriorating trends in asthma. The patients who were the most extroverted and/or lacked psychic symptoms almost always have more favorable prognoses.

  • The asthmatic individual feels left out, unloved or ignored, and wants to screen out another individual competing for attention with them, and not have anything to do with them.

  • Children with asthma who also wet their beds appear to be at high risk for lower levels of self-esteem, poor quality of life and parents who prefer their siblings.

    If any of the above rings true for you, you want want to consider psychotherapy to begin to change these old, dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors. Some techniques include:

    • systematic desensitization: after relaxing, describes to your therapist their fears about all the disturbing aspects of the disease ranging from mild asthma to death from status asthmaticus, until you no longer reacts with anxiety. Since anxiety exasperates the asthmatic condition, desensitization helps reduce attacks and their severity.

    • Biofeedback: Training both for facial muscle relaxation and for reducing respiratory resistance improves short term pulmonary function. Biofeedback is also useful for deep muscle relaxation and can be learned in such as way as to be accessed anywhere, with or without a machine.

    • Your therapist can show you how to do diaphragmatic breathing where you place your hand on the abdomen. (Many asthmatics inhale with the diaphragm raised rather than relaxed.) The therapist can also instruct you to "notice the feelings as the tubes open up." Then you can reproduce these feelings, and their effects, on your own.

    • Yoga: The integral yoga approach to asthma includes correction of distorted posture and faulty breathing habits, methods for the expectoration of mucous, teaching a system of general muscle relaxation, techniques for the release of suppressed emotion and for reducing anxiety and self conscious awareness. The Yoga Research Institute in India states that the purpose of functional breathing exercises is to learn to engage both the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm in breathing. The duration of exhalation should be double that of inhalation. Resistance must be made to the free passage of air when breathing in and out, by contracting the larynx or pursing the lips. The patient must let her mind follow the process of exhalation, and allow that to automatically become a form of progressive relaxation.
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     About The Author
    Emily Kane NDA graduate of Bastyr University in Seattle, she completed both the Naturopathic and Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine programs. Her preceptor work (similar to residencies) took place in Seattle, West Virginia and China,......more
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