In Oriental Medicine, there are many factors that may trigger an asthma attack. Examples include the invasion of the external pathogenic factors (such as cold or heat), diet, emotional disturbances, congenital weakness and chronic illnesses.

The fundamental cause of asthma is the presence of phlegm. In Oriental Medicine, the passage of water is controlled by three organs, namely Lung, Spleen and Kidney. Lung regulates the water passages in the upper jiao, the Spleen transports and transforms water in the middle jiao, and Kidney dominates water metabolism in the lower jiao. Imbalance of Yin and Yang in any of these three organs may lead to stagnation of the water circulation, which then contributes to the production and storage of phlegm in the Lung. Storage of phlegm in the Lung becomes the main cause for recurrent asthma attacks.

In addition to the phlegm, chronic asthma will lead to deficiency of Lung, Spleen and Kidney. Deficiency of the lungs leads to the inability of the lungs to inhale air, and deficiency of the Kidney creates an inability of the Kidney to receive or grasp air. This will be complicated further if the Spleen is also deficient and there is an excess amount of phlegm that obstruct the airway. Overall, the condition becomes more and more complicated as the underlying syndrome represents a “deficient” condition and the symptoms an “excess” condition.