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Articles

Tuesday, June 22, 2021, 10:41 AM
 

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the airways and makes breathing difficult. It affects over three million Canadians today.

Common symptoms of asthma include loss of breath, frequent coughing, feelings of tiredness or weakness (particularly during physical activity), and wheezing while exhaling. Symptoms can be triggered by allergens, exercise, stress, or other irritants.

The severity of asthma varies, and not all treatments are appropriate for everyone. However, there are many holistic health practices that may provide relief from symptoms and help improve your quality of life if you suffer from asthma.

Woman doing yoga pose on mat

Yoga

Practising yoga can provide relief from symptoms of asthma and even be used as a preventative measure. Yoga is a great way to combat stress and anxiety, which can reduce the likelihood of stress-induced asthma attacks.

The control of breath in yoga is known as pranayama and is one of the first things you will learn in a beginner yoga class. Learning this technique can help alleviate common symptoms of asthma, such as loss of breath.

Poses such as Cobra Pose or Mountain Pose can open chest muscles and help steady your breath. Be open with your yoga instructor and discuss how to adapt your practice with your condition in mind.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy reduces muscle tension and encourages deeper breathing, which can help manage some types of asthma. It is also a great way to relieve stress and, in turn, reduce symptomatic triggers caused by high-stress environments.

Your massage therapist may incorporate myofascial release into your treatment to relax contracted muscles and stimulate certain trigger points associated with the respiratory tract in the upper body and back.

As muscles relax and breathing deepens, the airways expand to allow a clear path for oxygen to flow. Massage therapy can also improve posture, further opening the chest to improve lung function.

Discuss the symptoms and severity of your asthma with your practitioner prior to treatment to help them build an appropriate treatment plan.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy may be a good option to help alleviate symptoms of asthma*, as long as you are not allergic to any essential oils or sensitive to strong smells. Aromatherapy can be added to your wellness routine in a variety of ways to reduce feelings of anxiety or complement existing self-care practices.

Eucalyptus can help to clear respiratory passageways, and lavender can be used for relaxation and reducing inflammation. Consider adding these essential oils to your diffuser or bath.

Breathing exercises can be enhanced with the use of essential oils; just add a few drops to your favourite diffuser. Find a comfortable seat and relax your shoulders. Inhale slowly, counting to four; exhale slowly, feeling your lungs empty. Repeat for as long as necessary.

Ready to Try for Yourself?

Think about incorporating these alternative health practices into your routine to help relax your body and relieve symptoms of asthma. Find a practitioner in your area using the NHPC Health Provider Directory.

 

*Do not use aromatherapy as an alternative treatment for asthma without checking with your physician first to see if it is right for you.