Bronchial asthma is a commonly encountered chronic disease of the lungs. Dyspnea (air hunger) is characterized by rapid breath with a wheeze in the throat, while asthma involves difficulty in breathing that can be accompanied in serious cases by a lifting in the shoulders and a flaring of the nostrils. The symptoms of both dyspnea and asthma may appear simultaneously. Symptoms like chest constriction, rapid breathing, wheezing, coughing and expectoration can be attributed to constriction of the smooth muscles in the thin bronchus, mucous congestion, edema and increased secretion of the bronchus. Bronchial asthma is usually seasonal -- found often in autumn and winter, seldom in spring and only occasionally or much relieved in summer.
Traditional Chinese medicine holds that bronchial asthma is caused by failure of the pulmonary qi to be cleansed and flow due to invasion of exogenous wind-cold into the lung or an accumulation of phlegm-dampness in the lung. Bronchial asthma may also be caused by a lingering disease or physical weakness, asthenia of the kidney qi and upward floating of various kinds of qi. Bronchial asthma in this case usually is brought on by stress.
The causes of bronchial asthma are complicated and remain unclear to this day. But it is generally believed to be a kind of allergic disease caused by hypersensitivity to pollen, dust, paint, fish, shrimp, bacteria and its metabolic substance. These trigger spasms of the smooth muscles of the bronchial tubes, especially the thin branches, where a narrowing of ducts results in a series of syndromes.
Symptoms of Bronchial Asthma
The warning symptoms include nasal itching, runny nose, sneezing and general discomfort. These are followed by tightness in the chest, labored breathing, asthma, coughing and expectoration. An asthma attack may last a long or short time. The symptoms in serious cases are opening of the mouth, lifting of the shoulders, inability to lie flat, profuse sweating, cold limbs, pale lips and bulging veins in the neck. A patient usually feels weak and dispirited.
Manipulations for Self-Massage Along Meridians and Acupoints
1. Rubbing the Front of the Neck
Performance: Sitting position. The thumb and four fingers of both hands are used
alternatively during the performance. First, the thumb and four fingers of one hand rub the sides of the larynx upward and downward for about one minute until a local warm sensation is felt (see Fig. 6). Then the other side is done with the same method.
The neck supports the head and is connected to the trunk of the body. The governor
vessel flows through the center of the neck. The bladder meridian flows along the sides of the neck; the triple energizer meridian flows beside the bladder meridian and behind the ears; the gallbladder meridian flows below the ears; and the large intestine meridian, small intestine meridian and the stomach meridian flow along the sides of the larynx. The neck is the passage of the throat and is one of the most mobile parts in the human body. So this method is effective in smoothing the joints, eliminating pathogenic wind, dredging meridians, activating collaterals,
promoting digestion and removing stagnation.
2. Pressing the Tiantu Point (CV 22)
Performance: Sitting position. The tip of the middle finger of one hand is used to press Tiantu located on the suprastemal fossa (depression above the sternum) for about one minute until local aching and distending sensation is felt.
3. Pressing the Tianfu Point(LU 3)
Performance: Sitting position. One thumb is used to press Tianfu (see Fig. 3) located three cun below the axillary crease of the upper arm, i.e., the lateral side of the biceps along the humerus for one minute until local aching and distending sensation is felt (see Fig. 4). Then the other side is pressed with the same method.
Danzhong and Tiantu are located on the conception vessel while Tianfu is located on the lung meridian. This technique is effective in dredging meridians and tranquilizing the mind.
4. Stroking the Neck and Nape
Performance: Sitting position. The palms and fingers of both hands are used during the performance. First, the palm and four fingers of one hand are used to stroke the neck from the clavicle, along the earlobe and to the cervical vertebrae continuously for about one minute until the area feels warm (see Fig. 5). Then the other side is rubbed the same way.
5. Pressing the Danzhong Point (CV 17)
Performance: Sitting position. The tip of the middle finger of one hand is used to press Danzhong located on the anterior midline, parallel to the fourth costal space, i.e., the middle point between the breasts. The pressing is continued for one minute until local aching and distending sensation is felt (see Fig. 1).
6. Pushing and Kneading the Chest
① Performance: Sitting position. The palms and the fingers of both hands are used to push and knead from the upper part to the lower part of the sternum on the opposite side and then along the sternum sides to the shoulder and armpit. The pushing and kneading are done continuously for one minute until a local warm sensation is felt and breathing becomes regular (see Fig. 7). Then the other side is pushed and kneaded the same way.
② Effect: This method can disperse stagnant pulmonary qi, and relieve superficial pathogenic factors as it soothes the chest and regulates qi.
7. Squeezing the Upper Part of the Back
① Performance: Sitting position. The palms and fingers of both hands are used to squeeze-release continuously from the nape to the upper part of the back for about one minute (see Fig. 8) until a local warm sensation is felt. The right hand works first, then the left hand.
② Effect: This technique can relax the tendons, relieve spasms and stop pain.
8. Patting the Chest
① Performance: Sitting position with body relaxed. The fingers of both hands are slightly bent and held together. The hands are used alternatively to pat the chest from the sternum border, along the intercostal space to the region below the armpit and shoulder. The patting is done repeatedly for about two minutes (see Fig.9).
② Effect: This performance can sooth the chest to regulate qi and loosen phlegm to relieve asthma.
9. Bending at the Waist to Exhale Qi
① Performance: Sitting position with body relaxed, breathing through the nose, and without any thought of straining. The forearms are crossed over the abdomen and the body is bent to exhale (see Fig. 10). It is necessary to exhale as deep as possible. Then slowly sit up, gradually raise the arms and inhale. This performance is done continuously for about two minutes.
② Effect: This technique can soothe the liver to regulate qi and coordinate qi and blood.
1. When asthma is in remission, self-massage along meridians and acupoints is done one to two times a day in combination with prescribed drugs and physical exercise, which helps to shorten the therapeutic course of asthma while preventing relapses and prolonging intervals between attacks.
2. Care should be taken to avoid inhaling allergic factors and to wear clothing appropriate to the season to avoid catching a common cold.
3. Keep in a cheerful frame of mind, take light food and avoid tobacco and alcoholic beverages