Shwasahara Gana – Anti Asthmatic Herbs Of Charaka

By Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD(Ayu), PhD.
Breathlessness or dyspnoea may occur due to hereditary in few of the individuals and in few more it may manifest as an allergic manifestation. But the line of treatment hold well one another and usually Kapha Vatahara treatment is undertaken where the site if Pitta is also taken care. 

Ayurveda considers Asthma by the name ‘Shwasa’ roga. It is a Prana and Udana vata gata vikara; some extent Avalambaka kapha is also involved in the causation of this particular problem.

Shwasahara gana referred in Charaka samhita emphasizes the broncho-dilating, anti-tussive and expectorant effect altogether. The brief of the members of this group is explained here below- 

Classical reference: Charaka sutra 4/15

Let us review the quality and action of these drugs one by one in brief-

1. Shathi- Hedychium spicatum – Rhizome
Anti tussive, expectorant, digestive, carminative, broncho dilating etc.

2. Pushkaramoola – Inula racemosa – Roots
Expectorant, anti inflammatory, analgesic, anti spasmodic, anti flatulent etc.

3. Amlavetasa- Solena amplexicaulis (Lam.) / Garcinia pedunculata -Fruit or Leaves
Cardiac topnic, digestive, carminative, expectorant, anti flatulent, appetizer etc.

4. Ela- Elatteria cardamomum – Seeds
Sootning, expectorant, anti tussive, detoxifier, carminative, steptic etc.

5. Hingu- Ferula narthex – Resin
Carminative, digestive, anti flatulant, digestive, anti spasmodic etc.

6. Agaru- Aquilaria agallocha – Heart wood
Digestive, immune modulator, anti tussive, analgesic etc.

7. Surasa-Tulasi- Ocimum sanctum – Leaves
Broncho dilator, expectorant, skin detoxifier, blood purifier, anti dote, anti inflammatory etc.

8. Tamalaki – Phyllanthus niruri – Whole plant
Liver stimulant, anti tussive, expectorant, appetizer, alkalizer, blood purifier, coolant etc.

9. Jeevanti- Leptadenia reticulata – Roots
Galactogogue, nutritive, energizer, nourishing, diuretic, rejuvinative etc.

10. Chanda – Costus speciosus – Rhizome
Broncho dilator, appetizer, digestive, carminative, bitter tonic, liver stimulant etc.

Qualities in general and actions of Shwasahara Gana drugs:
The drugs enumerated under this heading are pungent or bitter in taste and most of them are hot in potency (Ushna veerya) and undergo pungent kind of metabolic change(Katu vipaka).They are light-hot and penetrative in quality.

Altogether they act as broncho dilators, anti tussive, expectorants, digestive, carminative and rejuvinatives.

Therapeutic uses of Shwasahara Gana drugs:
The formulations derived from these herbs act quite effectively in cough, cold, asthma, allergic rhinitis, cold, tonsillitis, fever, head ache, chest congestion etc. 

Formulations containing Shwasahara drugs :
Kacchooradi choorna, Pushkaramoolasava, Eladi vati, Tulasyasava, Surasadi kashaya, Eladi choorna, Hingu triguna taila, Hinwadi vati are the inique preparations of these drugs.

Disadvantages of Shwasahara Gana drugs:
As few of the drugs are hot in potency and pungent in metabolic change the drugs should be prescribed withutmost care in pregnant and in young children.

Simple formulations that can be made from the above drugs and their application in routine practice:
 Fine powder of Shathi is mixed with turmeric powder and applied to the scalp. This will reduce the nasal congestion, cold and asthma. Or else fine powder is mixed with honey or jaggery and asked to lick. This will reduce the attacks of asthma. Also effective in cold, head ache, chest congestion, flatulence, indigestion etc.
Decoction of Tamalaki or Tulasi are also equally beneficial. Hot infusion can also be used in such conditions. 

Formulation development opportunities:
Depending upon the associated symptoms of Asthma suitable combinations can be made and practiced like lozenges, chewable tablets, syrups or concentrated decoctions.

Few unique preparations like Dhoomravarti (suppositories for fumigation/inhalation) or dusting powder to add to the fire and to smoke can also be used.
Click to consult Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD(Ayu), PhD


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