Case Studies: Asthma

Learn how to help breathing problems


| March/April 2004


Of all the diseases and symptoms I’ve helped people with throughout my years of clinical experience, breathing problems are among the scariest. During the last year of my mother’s life, I watched helplessly as she literally gasped for breath, the result of 50 years’ heavy cigarette smoking. Whether or not we smoke, these days, the health of our lungs is constantly under attack. Pollutants in the air, secondhand smoke and chronic respiratory allergies, perhaps related to environmental and psychological stressors, all equal peril for the body system that provides the breath of life.

More Americans than ever before now suffer from asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase in asthma cases and deaths affects all ages, spans every racial group and occurs nationwide. Although methods of prevention and treatment are improving every day, asthma remains a chronic disease in which modern drugs are often ineffective.

My heart really went out to one of my recent asthma patients. Marion came in for several months for acupuncture treatments, and we assessed her underlying pattern based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. Marion said that when she first realized she had asthma, she stopped taking breathing for granted. “I was afraid I would stop breathing when I was asleep and kept waking up, sometimes gasping for air, even though I had no symptoms for days before,” she said. “The anxiety that created in me was intense, and I’ve had prescriptions for drugs to control anxiety for several years.”

I also remember Bill, another patient with severe asthma, who had become very sophisticated with the use of inhalers and other drug therapy. He had an amazing memory for all the different asthma drugs, and as is often the case, I learned a lot about the modern treatment of asthma from my patient.



Bill was a stoic type and wouldn’t talk much about his occasional struggles just to get a good breath of air. He grew up in downtown Los Angeles, and although he was never a smoker, he had been tested and found to be allergic for a variety of environmental triggers. “I reacted to everything on the menu,” he told me with a laugh, followed by a cough.

Asthma: A Modern Epidemic







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