COPD - Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a group of chronic lung diseases that are characterized by progressive restriction of airflow in and out of the lungs and therefore increased shortness of breath resulting from the decreased air flow. Unfortunately, it is not fully reversible and is only diagnosed after the patient or doctor notice loss of lung capacity.
The main symptoms are: shortness of breath, wheezing, chronic cough, coughs that lingers for weeks, recurring respiratory infections and lack of stamina. Unfortunately, these symptoms are very often discounted for being out of shape.
The common causes are smoking, environmental, genetic, allergies and asthma, poor nutrition, periodontal disease and respiratory infections. Smoking is by far the most important cause, accounting for 80% of the COPD cases, and 90% of COPD related deaths.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine), COPD is classified under chuan (喘) syndrome. There are numerous different types of root causes and the treatments will depend on the cause.
外寒内飲 If it is primarily caused by external coldness generating phlegm, the Lung Qi is deficient, which results in the Lung Qi rising instead of falling as in a healthy individual. The physical phenomenon is the catarrhal inflammation which irritates the respiratory system to cough out the phlegm. The treatment will need to focus on eliminating the coldness and strengthening the Lung Qi.
In the case of excessive heat, associated with phlegm, the approach will be to reduce the heat.
飲鬱化熱 If the condition is heat caused by excessive phlegm, the phlegm will need to be cleared with additional steps to help lower the excessive heat.
痰熱鬱肺 If the situation points to excessive phlegm resulting in weak Lung, there will be sticky phlegm that is hard to expel. The treatment will need to focus in reducing the phlegm as well as in down-bearing Lung Qi to restore the normal function of the Lung system.
痰瘀阻肺 Stagnation of Phlegm blocking the Lung is characterized by profuse and thick phlegm and the approach is to free up the Lung system by eliminating the Phlegm.
痰蒙神竅 This is a very serious condition where the patient's mind is affected by the extensive presence of Phlegm. It is characterized by loss of consciousness and should seek the help of ICU.
肺脾腎氣虛 This is usually the underlying overall Qi deficiencies in the Kidney, Spleen and Lung and is treatable during remission. Focus on tonifying the Qi of these 3 systems.
陽虛水泛 This condition occurs in the later stages of COPD when the heart is affected, resulting in edema.