Silicosis is a fibro-nodular lung disease caused by inhalation of dust containing crystalline silica, which is present in granite, slate and sandstone. Silicosis can be either acute or chronic. Common symptoms include cough, breathlessness, wheezing, digital clubbing, cyanosis, and other symptoms of cor pulmonale. This condition is an occupational hazard for people involved with mining, quarrying, sand blasting, cement and glass manufacturing, masonry, blast furnaces, coal mining and construction work.
The Ayurvedic treatment of silicosis is aimed at treating symptoms and preventing long term complications like chronic bronchitis, cor pulmonale, respiratory failure and lung cancer. Medicines like Shwas-Kuthar-Ras, Sitopaladi-Churna, Talisadi-Churna, Kantakari-Avaleha, Vasa-Avaleha, Ras-Sindur, Malla-Sindur, Sameer-Pannag-Ras and Shrung-Bhasma can be used to reduce inflammation in the lungs, and symptoms like cough, breathlessness and wheezing. Herbal medicines which can be used for this purpose include Pippali (Piper longum), Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra), Kantakari (Solanum xanthocarpum), Bruhat-Kantakari (Solanum indicum), Som (Ephedra vulgaris), Karkatashrungi (Pistichia integerima), Kulingan (Alpimia galangal), Dhatura (Dhatura fastuosa), Vasa (Adhatoda vasaka), Kushtha (Saussurea lappa) and Pushkarmool (Inula racemosa).
Medicines like Suvarna-Malini-Vasant, Suvarna-Bhasma, Abhrak-Bhasma, Maha-Laxmi-Vilas-Ras and Suvarna-Sameer-Pannag-Ras can be used to prevent permanent damage to the lungs and chronic complications like cor pulmonale and lung cancer. Medicines like Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Bhrungraj (Eclipta alba), Bala (Sida cordifolia) and Naagbala (Grewia hirsuta) can be used to boost the immune status of the body. Yashtimadhuk and Pippali, boiled in milk, are given in progressively increasing doses, followed by gradually tapering doses. Repeated such courses are very useful in preventing recurrent infections in the lungs, and help in repairing the damage done to the lungs.
The prognosis of silicosis depends upon the chronicity and severity of lung damage caused by this condition. Prevention is a very important aspect of the management of this condition. Occupational safety standards need to be implemented rigorously in order to prevent this condition and reduce morbidity and mortality.