• Dr A A Mundewadi

Bronchiectasis - A Comparison of Modern (Allopathic) and Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment

Bronchiectasis is a medical condition which involves an abnormal dilatation of the proximal and medium sized airways in the lungs. Currently, high resolution CT (HRCT) scans of the chest are the investigation of choice to diagnose this condition. The damaged bronchi are usually one and half times more dilated than normal lung bronchi, and appear in different shapes such as cylindrical, cystic or varicose. This is a chronic and obstructive lung disease with symptoms which include breathlessness, severe cough and hemoptysis. Severe affliction with this medical condition can cause significant morbidity and mortality. The common causes of bronchiectasis include recurrent lung infections, incomplete treatment of infections, bronchial obstruction, hereditary lung disorders, and some auto immune diseases.

The modern management of this condition includes the use of antibiotics, chest physiotherapy, steroids, bronchodilators, and dietary supplementation. Oxygen may be required for a select few patients, while hospitalization may be advised for severe and acute exacerbations. Some specific types of bronchiectasis may require surgical treatment. Antibiotics are usually prescribed for about 7-10 days. The aggressive use of antibiotics has reduced the mortality of this condition by nearly one third that of the pre-antibiotic era. Most patients who comply with treatment regimens, practice preventive medicine strategies, and regularly follow up with their physicians, do quite well in the long run.

Modern medications are thus useful in controlling acute infection, severe and acute exacerbations, and long term management so as to prevent deterioration. However, these cannot reverse the damage already done to the bronchial airways, nor can they prevent infections by themselves. Ayurvedic herbal medicines have a very important role to play in these situations. Herbal and herbomineral medicines can be used to directly reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract and strengthen the mucosal lining in the lungs. This helps in prevention of accumulation of excess mucus in the lungs, which may be susceptible to infection. Panchkarma treatment modalities like induced emesis (Vaman therapy) can be used in a select few patients both on a therapeutic basis as well as preventive basis in order to reduce daily mucus expectoration and the frequency of infections.

This can help in improving the quality of life of patients with moderate to severe degree of bronchiectasis. There are several patients on record who had been advised continuous long term treatment with antibiotics, or even partial lung resection surgery, in an attempt to lessen the severity and frequency of exacerbations. Such patients have improved significantly with Ayurvedic treatment without the long-term need for antibiotics, or even the more drastic surgical treatment.

Ayurvedic herbal medicines work well not only in strengthening the lung tissue, but also in improving the overall health and immune status of affected individuals. Patients who have long-standing or severe bronchiectasis usually end up losing weight gradually; Ayurvedic treatment effectively takes care of weight loss associated with this disease. Patients who have bronchiectasis may also be adversely affected due to respiratory allergies and autoimmune disease. Ayurvedic herbal treatment can effectively treat these medical conditions too so as to remove the root cause of the disease. Patients with long-standing disease usually end up with respiratory or right-sided heart failure. Concurrent treatment with Ayurvedic herbal medicines has successfully treated these long-term complications in many patients.

Ayurvedic herbal medicines can thus be judiciously utilized in the successful long term management and treatment of bronchiectasis.

Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment, Herbal medicines, Bronchiectasis

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