Conditions which affect the lungs and bronchus can range from a simple irritating cough to severe asthma and a range of chronic diseases. Most respiratory conditions are inflammatory in origin: that is, the symptoms are caused by tissue being inflamed by an irritant such as an allergen, a bacteria or a virus. If severe and chronic the lung tissue can lose much of its elasticity and ability to absorb oxygen. Very occasionally the cause of the problem is cancerous tissue.
Coughs can be productive or non-productive i.e. the cough causes phlegm in the back of the throat/the mouth. A non-productive cough is likely to be described as dry and irritating. If the cough only occurs at night it may be the result of mucus (phlegm) trickling down the back of the throat when you lie flat. Phlegm can range in colour from clear/white – likely due to an allergen, through to green/brown which indicates an infection. Brown phlegm is often associated with a ‘smoker’s cough’.
Asthma conditions range in severity and cause, and cover the whole age range; although more commonly seen in children than in adults. The other chronic respiratory conditions tend to be classified together as COPD – chronic obstructive airways disease; and once diagnosed, patients are closely monitored by their local NHS service.
If you have a persistent cough (more than two weeks) which has not responded to simple home treatment such as honey and lemon, you should seek advice from a qualified practitioner.
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All simple coughs due to bacterial or viral infection respond well to medicinal herbs in the form of teas, tinctures or inhalations. The medical herbalist will treat the person with the cough rather than the cough itself; therefore no two prescriptions will be identical.
For simple coughs, a brief ‘over the counter’ consultation will likely establish whether the cough is viral or bacterial in origin and a remedy can be prescribed and made up accordingly. More complex coughs, such as asthma or any of the COPD’s respond well to a range of herbs which help the body to holistically manage a chronic complaint.
Nutritional advice can be helpful for those who have a compromised immune system or suffer from food intolerances.
Acupuncture has been used over many years by people with a wide range of respiratory conditions.
Chinese medicine (of which acupuncture is a part), considers signs and symptoms to be a sign of deeper energetic disharmony within the human system, and has its own diagnostic system through which to understand an individual’s imbalance.
This additional perspective is a valuable part of the Acupuncture process, and together with a western understanding of health and disease enables the Acupuncturist to provide a truly individual treatment.
Acupuncture treatments are directed both at reducing symptoms and also resolving the underlying imbalance for a more lasting effect.
Acupuncture can be used alongside conventional medicine and is suitable for people of all ages including women in pregnancy.
Fact sheets can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website www.acupuncture.org.uk including those about Colds and Flu, COPD, Sinusitis, Allergic Rhinitis.