Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease(COPD): Overview

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a long-term lung condition which generally includes -- Chronic bronchitis and Emphysema -- which generally occur together. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by chronic cough with expectorant for at least three months of the year for more than two successive years. Emphysema is marked by permanent atypical distension of the air space distal to the terminal bronchioles.

COPD is typically diagnosed in middle-aged or older adults. People affected by COPD experience difficulty in breathing because of blockage in, or narrowing of, the air tubes (or airways) which are responsible for carrying air in and out of the lungs.

The airway blockage results from swelling or mucus, and make the lungs feel full because of which there is a feeling of tightness in the chest. Moreover, the narrowing of the airways reduces the flexibility of the small, balloon-like air sacs which inflate and deflate during the breathing process. Some of the air sacs collapse, because of which the flow of air to the lungs is hampered. Hence, breathing becomes difficult for a COPD patient.

The biggest cause of COPD is smoking. Besides smoking, the other possible factors which can lead to COPD include genetic factors,  passive smoking, deficiency of a protein called alpha 1 antitrypsin (AAT), and prolonged exposure to dust, air pollution, or certain chemicals.

COPD: Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of COPD are:

  • Persistent cough
  • Cough with mucus
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Shortness of breath, particularly during physical activity
  • Frequent occurrence of respiratory infections.

Due to the symptoms, COPD patients often have to restrict their day-to-day activities, because of which they may experience a sense of loss. They have to make lifestyle changes which are mostly accompanied by the feelings of sadness, anxiety, depression, anger, and frustration.

COPD: Ayurvedic Perspective

According to Ayurveda, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a ‘Shwasa Roga.’ It is a disorder of ‘Pranavaha srotas’ (Tracheobronchial tree), and is marked by the occurrence of cough, breathing difficulties, disturbed  respiration pattern.

Ayurvedic experts believe that ‘Shwasa Roga’ or conditions like COPD lead to abnormal, rapid or difficult breathing due to  vitiation of the body’s Kapha dosha. The vitiated dosha aggravates the Prana Vayu which becomes defiled and gets obstructed. The obstruction causes the Prana Vayu to move in the opposite direction because of which,  lungs cannot perform its normal functions.

As per Ayurvedic texts, the possible risk factors of COPD include exposure to air pollution, smoking, passive smoking,  dust chemicals, and cold weather. Moreover, the condition can also be linked to irregular and untimely eating habits, and dietary mistakes like excessive intake of kidney beans, black gram, white flour preparations, curd, unboiled milk, aquatic/marshy meat, etc.  are difficult-to-digest and can cause indigestion.

For the prevention of COPD, Ayurveda focuses on the identification, reduction, and control of risk factors that can trigger the onset of the condition.

How to tackle COPD

There is presently no proven cure of COPD, and no medical procedure for repairing the damage to airways and lungs. However, the condition can be managed with the help of proper treatment and medication, which can improve the quality of life of the patients.

Some of the treatment options available in modern medicine for managing COPD include the use of Bronchodilators, Antibiotics, Corticosteroids, Flu or Pneumonia vaccines, Oxygen therapy, and Pulmonary rehabilitation.

In addition to these treatments, it is also possible to tackle COPD by making some dietary and lifestyle changes. More specifically, some of the ways in which COPD can be managed in a natural manner are:

Eat foods rich in Vitamin C and E, and Omega-3 fatty acids

COPD can be tackled with the help of a nutritious diet that includes an abundance of antioxidants or Vitamins C and E, for improving the functioning of the lungs and averting cell damage. In addition, foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids should be added to a daily diet. These foods chiefly include soybeans, walnuts, flaxseed, and fatty fish like tuna or salmon.

Avoid/Quit Smoking

Smoking can worsen the symptoms of COPD because of the presence of harmful toxins in cigarette smoke. The toxins can cause irritation to the airways and damage the lung tissues. Therefore, for tackling COPD, smokers affected by the condition must avoid or completely quit smoking.

Maintain proper body weight

People suffering from COPD must maintain  proper body weight. Being overweight can affect the quality of breathing and aggravate the condition, as the lungs have to work harder. For maintaining a healthy weight, it is important to decrease calorie intake, exercise regularly, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, reduces the consumption of fatty meats, and avoid junk foods, sweetened drinks, and alcohol.

Maintain a regular exercise routine

Exercise is vital for tackling COPD effectively because it can ease the breathing process and strengthen the lungs, muscles, and heart. Restricting physical activities due to the fear of shortness of breath can worsen COPD. To deal with such a fear, it is important to focus on breathing slowly while exercising, and avoid holding the breath.

Avoid environmental factors that worsen COPD

To tackle COPD, it is pertinent to maintain a safe environment because certain environmental factors -- like excessive air pollution, infectious diseases like flu and cold, second-hand cigarette smoke and other indoor fumes -- can aggravate COPD symptoms. These factors should be avoided because they can lead to increased respiratory tract irritation, wheezing/coughing, and chest tightness.

Get adequate sleep at night

It is important for COPD patients to get enough sleep. COPD can often cause sleep disruptions due to stress, anxiety, or side-effects of medication. To reduce CO PD-related sleeping problems and to ensure adequate sleep at night, a daily sleep schedule should be maintained, and sleeping during the day should be avoided.

Use Herbs or Herbal remedies

The use of herbs or herbal remedies can also be helpful in managing COPD. Some beneficial herbs for COPD patients include Turmeric (Curcuma Longa), Ardraka (Zingiber officinale), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Pippali (Piper longum), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Ela (Elettaria cardamomum), Daru haldi (Berberis aristata), Rasona (Pluchea lanceolata), and Lashuna (Allium sativum).


COPD is a chronic lung condition which is difficult to tackle. The above-mentioned remedies can prevent the worsening of the COPD conditions. However, these remedies should preferably be followed under the guidance of an expert Ayurveda practitioner.

Author's Bio: 

DR. Vikram Chauhan, MD -AYURVEDA is an expert Ayurvedic practitioner based in Chandigarh, India and doing his practice in Mohali, India. He is spreading the knowledge of Ayurveda Ancient healing treatment, not only in India but also abroad. He is the CEO and Founder of Planet Ayurveda Products, Planet Ayurveda Clinic, and Krishna Herbal Company. For more info visit our website: