A deeper look at Asthma – why is it that we can't breathe?
A deeper look at Asthma – why is it that we can't breathe?
When clinicians across the world agree that ‘psychosocial factors’, including stress, relationship issues and workplace confrontations, to name just a few, are instrumental in exacerbating Asthma and Asthma attacks, have we asked the right questions regarding how we can more fully treat this disease?
There was a time when Bina Pattel wouldn't have left the house without her inhalers (she had two because one wasn’t enough). She relied on them, leaving her in what she describes as a “constant state of anxiousness.” Medical intervention was a huge support in what could have otherwise been a life-threatening disease, but the medical intervention alone couldn’t support her to get to the bottom of why she couldn’t even ‘breathe her own breath'.
That part – an understanding of the psychosocial stressors and how to address them – came from complementary medicine and more specifically through the work of Serge Benhayon, a practitioner who Lung Specialist Dr Sam Kim calls “world-changing” for his pioneering work in supporting people with the self-care principles and energetic understandings that promote a deeper awareness of why we experience disease.
On the website Simple Living Global, Bina Pattel writes; “I am living proof that having had chronic bronchitis on my medical records for four decades, things are now totally different. I was presented with a correct way to breathe by Serge Benhayon, the founder of Universal Medicine, in 2005, and with daily practice, things started to change in a big way. This is a miracle as I was known for my constant coughing.” Ten years on not only has the coughing stopped, so has the chronic bronchitis and asthma attacks. “I learned that the breathing allowed me to observe everything that was outside of me and not take it inside and change my breathing.”
How often do we take on life and let it ‘breathe us’ to its rhythm? What Bina’s experience demonstrates is something that we all innately know. Taking on the stress and emotions of others and the situations around us are contributors to our ill health.
On World Asthma Day, this article by leading lung specialist, Dr Sam Kim, looks 'beyond the petri-dish' at the bigger picture of this disease and what is at stake if we don’t start to look at all the factors that contribute to its continued prevalence across our global population . . .
Asthma is a huge global health problem that we cannot avoid seeing through our eyes and hearing through our ears on a daily basis. In our playgrounds, shopping centres, sporting fields, concert venues, tourism landmarks and any other sort of large public gathering, there is at least someone busily inhaling a few puffs of Ventolin prior to his or her next movement.
Although I write as a representative of Australia, which has one of the highest population rates of asthma in the world, asthma is actually a fundamental human problem as old as human civilisation. “4.5%” global prevalence may not mean much, but when we begin to see and feel that this actually means at least 334 million people plus their families and all of their extended social networks, it is a lot of people affected by just one human disease.
Given that our population statistics are already out-dated by the time they are published in the leading medical journals, and not to mention that asthma diagnosis is either controversial or limited by diagnostic resources in many developing countries, predicting an additional 100 million people with asthma by the year 2025 is an underestimation. From what we see as doctors and carers, that is still a lot of people. For others, that’s also a lot of money to be spent and made, i.e. billions of dollars in Australia, and trillions of dollars globally.
Everything in health care has been and is increasingly about money. It actually costs money to restore one’s health. A recent US study demonstrated what people have felt for a long time, and what the British have known since the landmark Black Report of the 1980’s on the ‘social gradation and inequality of health’ – that the poorer you are, the worse is your health outcome.
We can no longer separate any disease from what society is going through as a whole.
People with disease means more cost of care. More people with disease equates to increasing cost of care. More diseases also means exponential cost of care that we may one day discover we cannot afford to provide through our current systems of banking, insurance and governmental funding. I am still surprised that there is still not much education in microeconomics and macroeconomics in our medical schools beyond the common sense we need to see behind the suffering of a disease.
Thus, the whole framework of ‘universal health care’ is threatened when a single disease adds another 100 million people within a decade. Add another several hundred million people each with diabetes, cancer, emphysema, mental illness, etc., and we have a situation where humanity can either neglect the problem or awaken itself as one family and see what is truly going on.
From a medical perspective, asthma is a ‘reversible’ disease that can be controlled with a broad range of drugs, interventions and even complementary treatments. Although many do ‘well’ and live a productive life from the public’s viewpoint, this is not the case for many in the developing world, and as with many other chronic diseases, children and women are the worst affected.
The ‘true’ meaning of asthma that people may not be aware of, is that it is a fundamental model of illness and disease that affects our very ability to breathe.
You could have any other variety of breathing difficulties, but ‘asthma’ is one diagnosis that people think of because it is so common, well known and widely diagnosed.
In ‘asthma’ we lose the ability to breathe our own breath that is naturally supportive and nurturing to our body. Thus it is a separation from what is true for our body regardless of age, gender or colour of our skin. Whether it is about losing breath and wheezing away while making love with a partner, running across the hockey field, pushing the grocery trolley or even going to the mailbox, the body is feeling ill and the mind is struggling to cope.
For humans, we learn to breathe miraculously from the eighth to tenth week of our growth in our mother’s womb.
It is a well-known scientific fact now that the developing baby feels, hears, sleeps and responds to all that is happening outside the womb and within the mother. After birth and throughout our lives, how we breathe and our every breath is intimately responsive to the world we see, people we meet, events we experience and feelings we are confronted with.
It is no wonder the worst attacks of asthma (so-called ‘exacerbations’) are not due to infection alone, but also a multitude of ‘psychosocial stressors’.
For example, some women experience more asthma during their periods, pregnancy, following delivery of their newborn child, marital breakdown, through emotional bullying at work or the death of a parent or her child. Some men experience asthma in their work, following marital disharmony, after a drug binge or following moments of physical violence (or more) that can be days, weeks, years or decades prior. Many more examples can be given even from my twenty-five years of observation within Medicine in one part of the world.
Accounts of clinicians around the world will provide the same facts: illness and disease is about how we live, breathe and move. It is a revealing reminder so eloquently highlighted by Serge Benhayon in his revelatory book, ‘An Open Letter to Humanity’, which sets the keystone for a renewed posture in the Population Health of 7.4 billion people.
"Is not the continuous rise in the diagnosis of the many forms of cancer and the widespread growth of diabetes a clear sign that something is deeply wrong in the way we choose to live, and more so – in the intelligence that does not challenge it."Serge Benhayon An Open Letter to Humanity, 2011.
While we gather our resources and collective wisdom to help our global humanity against one disease called ‘asthma’, it is also important to truly see how we are individually breathing behind the body of skin, bone and blood called the human being.
As the technology advances and Medicine becomes more complex in its system of delivery, a deeper public awareness of how we breathe, how we observe and how we absorb the very fabric of human life will do wonders for asthma prevention and treatment. This is because the current range of drugs does work. Actually, they are so effective they can affect other organs apart from the lungs if used excessively. If our body can be nurtured more by a society that truly sees the meaning of ‘asthma’, much more can be achieved with less.
We have all the resources and wisdom to help humanity return to the amazing health we can be.
Therefore, World Asthma Day is another day of reawakening ourselves from the veil of what holds us back, and truly see what is going on behind a diagnostic label.
Additional readings of interest:
Asher I, Pearce N. Global burden of asthma among children. Int J Tubercul Lung Dis. 2014:18(11): 1269-1278
Behera A, Shegal IS. Bronchial asthma – issue for the developing world. Indian J Med Res 2015:141: 380-382
Benhayon S and The Hierarchy. (2011). An Open Letter to Humanity. Unimed Publishing, Goonellabah NSW AUSTRALIA
Braman SS. The global burden of asthma. Chest. 2006:130(1 Suppl): 4S-12S
Chetty S, Stepner M, Abraham S, Lin S, Scuderi B, Turner N, Bergeron A, Cutler D. The association between income and life expectancy in the United States, 2001-2014. JAMA 2016:April 10: doi:10.1001/jama.2016.4226
Global Asthma Network. The Global Asthma Report 2014. Auckland, New Zealand.
Lai CKW, Beasley R, Crane J, Foliaki S, Shah J, Weiland S, the ISAAC Phase Three Study Group. Global variation in the prevalence and severity of asthma symptoms: Phase Three of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). Thorax 2009:64: 476-483
Smith GD, Bartley M, Blane D. The Black Report on socioeconomic inequalities in health 10 years on. BMJ 1990:301(6748): 373-377
To T, Stanojevic S, Moores G, Hershon AS, Bateman ED, Cruz AA, Boulet L-P. Global asthma prevalence in adults: findings from the cross-sectional world health survey. BMC Public Health. 2014:12:204. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/12/204