Recently several articles in the popular press described how asthma can stabilize with relaxation. It reviewed several relaxation therapies. This offers other treatment modalities to give asthma sufferers relief. 25 million people in the US suffer from asthma. They usually keep their condition stable with various puffers.
People with asthma have a disbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The activity of the parasympathetic system is slightly more dominant. This leads to bronchoconstriction with measurable reduction of airflows when tested with spirometry.
In a randomized study asthma patients improved with a biofeedback method. They were using less steroid medication than an untreated asthma control group. In addition they found their asthma easier to manage. Relaxation methods are likely rebalancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves. This means the bronchial tubes relax more, which counteracts the parasympathetic bronchial tube constriction.
Relaxation methods used to stabilize asthma
- Guided imagery. You are choosing an image or memory of a time and place where you were relaxed. In your inner mind you become aware of the smells, the sounds and the sensations of what it felt like to be there.
- Mindfulness meditation. You are concentrating on “being in the moment”. This type of meditation brings you to the here and now. You are concentrating on what is happening in you now and you block out all other happenings. You learn how to concentrate on your inner resources when you are getting stressed or anxious.
- Yoga. Yoga comes in many forms, meditation, physical exercise and postures where you become aware of tensing muscles and relaxing muscles. Become aware of your breathing on different occasions. Allow all of this to relax you from within.
- Tai chi. This is a gentle and slow ancient type of martial art. Your body is moving, but relaxed. You allow yourself to concentrate on your body and your thoughts. It is a form of meditation exercise.
- Self-hypnosis. Relaxation tapes allow you to use imagery similar to point 1 where you imagine that you are somewhere relaxing. Relaxing background music and a human soft voice guide you to a world where you can relax, feel protected and experience yourself a bit deeper. With repeated practice you will be able to control the parts that in the past made you tense. Clinical hypnosis can be a powerful tool with a trained hypnotherapist guiding you along to a more relaxed you.
More about why asthma can stabilize with relaxation
I have shown that asthma can stabilize with relaxation. It does not seem to matter which relaxation method you are using. The key is that your conscious thinking is getting more into the background. At the same time your subconscious thinking comes to the forefront. When this happens, your sympathetic nervous system calms down. Your parasympathetic system is working in balance with the sympathetic system. Your pulse slows down, your breathing slows down and your airways open up.
It has to be emphasized that these are relaxation exercises you can incorporate into every day’s living. It will help to control stress and anxiety, but it is unrealistic to suggest that these methods will break a full-blown asthma attack! Once a patient has acute asthma it becomes crucial to treat it effectively, which includes medication and inhalation.
The body/mind connection can assist you for healing purposes and asthma can stabilize with relaxation. Spirometry readings (FEV1) and peak flow meter recordings in asthmatics can improve through any of the relaxation methods listed. Studies have shown that. We need to use common sense and also use conventional treatment methods for acute asthma attacks. Ignoring severe shortness of breath and believing in “relaxing it away” is a way to disaster! But by practicing relaxation techniques asthma patients will find that these methods help them to reduce their medication use. They learn to relax their mind and also their airways with natural means.
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