Ashton, a large, fit and powerful man, had never had respiratory problems until he got a bad flu. He finally cleared it after a month of antibiotics and almost three weeks time off work. He felt that his immune system was weak, and generally he was fatigued. He had developed asthma and hay-fever symptoms. He frequently woke up during the night with a dry tickly irritating cough. His breathing was laboured and this was very worrying for him as he used to practice some deep breathing techniques, which he could no longer do! His breathing had become such a problem that he was unable to walk for any kind of distance before becoming breathless. He felt at times like a man in his seventies rather than a 35 year old.
Observing Ashton, I noticed that he was a mouth breather and that he frequently took gasps of air in an attempt to satisfy his quest to fill his lungs with air! He described how he was becoming very frustrated and concerned about his future and since the onset of this condition his health had deteriorated rapidly. He described how he was now dependent on anti-histamines to reduce the heavy blocked feeling he would get every evening in his face and particularly behind his eyes. He was getting fits of coughing that were non productive and difficult to control. He said that his energy levels were low in the region of 4-5 out of 10! His job was suffering too as he no longer had the same levels of motivation, focus or energy to complete tasks that he used to do easily. His specialist respiratory doctor, who had diagnosed him with asthma, prescribed 2 inhalers and anti-histamine which he was concerned he was was going to have to use for the rest of his life time! His right Cun pulse felt tight and pounding but without any strength when pressed.
His abdomen was quite cold in the lower Dantian, and he had some small but quite discernible little knots (ahshi) in the locality of St 24 Shoulder (Huaroumen). Ren 12 (Zhongwan) had similar qualities and Ren 4 (Guanyuan) seemed a little concave. He was tense and anxious and was eager to find a resolution to his current condition. I started the treatment using the “Lotus Flower” Abdominal Meridian System (AMS) opening treatment, for 15 minutes to rebalance his immune, hormonal and nervous system by working on the Lungs, Spleen and Kidneys. It is like rebooting his system. Eight needles (Bagua) placed within a 0.5 cun radius around the umbilicus like the main points on a compass starting from North to North East, then East etc., and working all the way around in a clockwise manner. Once all needles are inserted superficially they are directed towards the wall of the umbilicus at a 45 degree angle to a depth of approximately 0.5cun or until you observe the needle behind the wall of the navel (do not puncture through the wall).
Fig 1. Illustration of Ashtons prescription
After removing the “Lotus Flower”, I opened the Ren Mai using Lu 7 (Lieque) on the left and Kid 6 (Zhaohai) on the right. I then needled "Heaven & Earth" Ren 12 (Zhongwan) and Ren 4 (Guanyuan), St 25 (TianShu), St 24 Shoulder (Huaroumen) and abdominal Lu 1. I also used Ren 17 (Shan Zhong) and finally in order to clear his stuffy head I added the little ahshi points located a little superior and lateral to Ren 12 (Zhongwan). All these needles were left in situ for 30 minutes, during which time I asked Ashton to be aware of his breathing and to correct his mouth breathing and use his nose instead. I also suggested that he refrain from taking gulps and to note how often he felt the need to do so!
After the session Ashton no longer had the stuffy feeling in his face, his chest felt less tight and he could breath easier. He commented that he found it difficult initially to breathe through his nose and was surprised at the frequency of his urges to gulp a mouthful of air! He left feeling chilled out and much more relaxed. His homework was to continue to observe his breathing patterns and to gently correct them!
Ashton was happy with his progress thus far, he had two nights where he didn’t get any hay - fever symptoms and hadn’t used any anti-histamines as his breathing was easier and his chest was less oppressed, although he was still frequently taking gulps of air.
This session was Buteyko Breathing, which involves breathing exercises that re-trains and corrects bad breathing habits in order to rectify the CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) concentration in the blood to a more normal level of around 5%. (Click here for more information.)
I saw Ashton two more times for abdominal acupuncture. I also gave some more Buteyko breathing exercises, which he practiced 2-3 times per day for 15 minutes each time. The acupuncture sessions focused on strengthening the Kidneys and harmonising the Lungs, whilst also nourishing Qi and calming his immune system and opening up his chest. The end result was a complete cessation of all asthma and hay fever symptoms, giving him a more normal breathing pattern, an end to his cough, sinus and eye irritation and a restoration of his energy levels. He is now able to take those long walks he enjoys whenever he feels like it and he no longer feels like a man twice his age. His mood is good and he is looking forward to ageing gracefully!