Therapeutic Massage aids Asthmatics

Therapeutic Massage aids Asthmatics


I was recently asked whether therapeutic massage was beneficial for asthma.  In order to fully answer that question, let’s first examine what asthma is. 

Asthma is divided into two categories. Intrinsic asthma is when there seems to be no identifiable cause and often starts later in life. This tends to be chronic and long lasting. Extrinsic asthma, which has a cause due to something that is usually inhaled, often triggering an episodic attack. Exercise induced asthma falls under this category and is usually brought on by strong exertion.

Asthma is a disorder, which affects the lungs. It causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing.  Asthma attacks occur when, the muscle around the bronchi go into spasm. The bronchi narrow, and breathing becomes difficult. Inflammation can also swell the lining of the air tubes. Mucus may increase blockage to the air tubes as well. Symptoms include wheezing, breathlessness, tightness in the chest and coughing.  

Bronchial asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways and mirrors the signs and symptoms of asthma. With bronchial asthma, the differential symptom is usually excessive coughing or a cough that keeps you awake at night, along with shortness of breath, chest tightness and wheezing. 

The Causes of Asthma 

Bronchial asthma triggers can be caused by smoke, infections such as colds, flu, or pneumonia, allergens such as food, pollen, mold, dust mites, and pet dander, strenuous exercise, air pollution and toxins, weather, especially extreme changes in temperature, drugs (such as aspirin, NSAID, and beta-blockers), food additives (such as MSG), emotional stress and anxiety, singing, laughing, crying, perfumes or sprays and/or acid reflux.  

In certain cases, the inflammation results in the feelings of chest tightness and breathlessness often felt at night (nocturnal asthma) or in the early morning. Other cases only feel symptoms when they exercise (exercise-induced asthma). Because of the inflammation, the airway hyper-responsiveness occurs as a result of certain triggers.  

Chronic stress has been linked to a worsening of asthma and allergies. Severe anxiety can trigger attacks, and stress generally aggravates asthma symptoms. 

Treating Asthma by Treating Stress 

There is an emotional aspect to every illness. Often times, it is the emotional thoughts or "excess emotions" that will lead to illness. Therapeutic massage is helpful in calming the mind, reducing stress and focusing our mental powers over any situation.  Doing relaxation techniques such as massage, yoga and meditation benefit lung function by affecting emotional processes, muscles, and breathing. Therapeutic massage is a holistic procedure that affects all systems of the body: musculoskeletal, digestive, elimination, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, endocrine and nervous systems. Many of today's health problems arise from stress. Because stress upsets the delicate integral balance of all your body's functions, regaining this balance requires a holistic approach.  

A recent study showed that children with asthma have improved pulmonary functions after massage therapy: 

Thirty-two children with asthma (16 4- to 8-year-olds and 16 9- to 14-year-olds) were randomly assigned to receive either massage therapy or relaxation therapy. The children's parents were taught to provide one therapy or the other for 20 minutes before bedtime each night for 30 days. The younger children who received massage therapy showed an immediate decrease in behavioral anxiety and cortisol (a stress induced hormone) levels after massage. Also, their attitude toward asthma and their peak air flow and other pulmonary functions improved over the course of the study. The older children who received massage therapy reported lower anxiety after the massage. Their attitude toward asthma also improved over the study, but only one measure of pulmonary function (forced expiratory flow 25% to 75%) improved. The reason for the smaller therapeutic benefit in the older children is unknown; however, it appears that daily massage improves airway caliber and control of asthma. 

Therapeutic Massage not only treats those parts of you which are a problem, but also affects the whole of your metabolism through normalizing your circulatory, muscular and nervous systems and their interdependent functioning. 

Heated Stone Massage is recommended for this condition. It is an ancient Ayurvedic therapy with river bed stones which draw out stress, tension and impurities from the body. 

Having suffered with Bronchial Asthma in my youth, I can attest that asthma attacks can leave the asthmatic with extreme muscle soreness in the upper body and abdomen, which untreated creates dysfunction in the affected muscles.  Massage is unparalleled in relieving this soreness and also helps normalize the functioning the affected muscles. 

Aromatherapy Remedies 

Aromatherapy blends can reduce inflammation and incidents of asthma attacks. Essential oils of bergamot, chamomile, clary sage, eucalyptus, lavender, pine and rose are all beneficial for asthma problems. These oils can ease pain, discomfort and inflammation and increase mucus flow.  

Yoga and Asthma 

Yoga poses can be good alternatives to "traditional" health remedies because they relax the body and mind, improve circulation and respiration, reduce tension and help the body through its healing process.    

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