Asthma and Materinal-infant Bonding
Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

A person’s health is significantly influenced by his/her emotional and mental states, particularly those that are habitual. Emotional tendencies and personality traits that are present from childhood generally originate from prenatal,perinatal, or childhood experiences. Early negative experiences and trauma not only lead to childhood pain and ailments, but lead to even more obvious harmful health effects after middle age.

Although we spend only nine months in the womb, the time spent there can influence our physique for the rest of our lives. The child’s entire life can be adversely affected should the womb lack particular nutrients, or is harmed by cigarettes, liquor, toxins, chemicals, electromagnetic radiation, or negative parental emotions.

Take child asthma as an example. Some doctors believe that child asthma is related to modern child delivery methods such as the use of the Caesarean section, and separation of mother and child after delivery. Dr Tony Madrid has a unique perspective on healing child asthma. He does not need to examine the child, but work instead with the mother. He noticed that 80% of asthmatic children did not develop bonding with their mothers. He also discovered that about 25% of all children did not develop mother-infant bonding. The term “bonding” was first rcoined by two doctors, Dr Marshal Klaus and Dr John Kennell, in their book published in the 1970s titled “Maternal-infant Bonding”. Bonding refers to the intimate body-spirit-mind relationship between mother and child, and is generally developed before or just after the child is born. Whether this special relationship exists or not is known to both mother and child. When it does not exist, mother and child will have many difficulties relating to each other—the mother is more impatient, and the child is also more problematic and throws tantrums easily. These children are prone to numerous small ailments. They readily become vexed and uneasy, and are prone to asthma and gastric pains.

At the time of birth, physical and mental separation between mother and infant is a major obstacle to developing mother-infant bonding. Should the mother be under anesthesia, or have premature delivery or twins, or the newly-born baby may be sent to the infant room, all these prevent the mother from seeing, hugging and breast-feeding the child. Bonding will be difficult to establish in this case. Likewise, bonding will be difficult to develop should the mother encounter pre-delivery emotional upheavals such as experiencing the death of a close relative (particularly, the father), or, within the last two years, had a miscarriage after feeling fetal movement, or he husband left her. Dr Madrid found that if he could heal the mother-child bonding, the child’s asthma would be cured. He would first let the mother understand the reasons behind the bonding difficulties, and then have her mentally re-create the bonding. He would direct her to relax and visually create a physically and mentally ideal delivery that is immediately followed by a warm and tender re-union with her infant. This approach can also be accomplished using other methods, or by way of prayers. Using this approach, the child’s asthma improves, and as does the mother-child relationship.

Negative thoughts and emotions can interfere with one’s health, and has effects not only during childhood, but during adulthood as well. These adverse health effects can also be rectified through positive thoughts and emotions. For example, Ling county in Henan province is district with a high incidence of esophageal cancer. Although esophageal cancer is associated with external factors (e.g., soil lacking nutrients; local people’s habit of eating fermented pickled vegetables), it generally occurs among people who experienced emotionally upsets. The local people believe that cancer occurs among family members who have been excessively angry after conflicts.

Another example relates to heart attack, a major cause of death among American males. Heart attacks occur most frequently on Monday mornings, and interestingly, around 9 a.m.. Many years ago, a survey found that 90% of US workers are mismatched with their jobs, which become a source of stress for them. Hence, going to work on Monday mornings is not a happy occasion for these people.

Through training, one can transform negative emotions into positive ones. Heartmath, a research centre in North California, teaches a simple method: when we feel vexed, angry or sad, immediately focus our attention on our heart, and simultaneously recall events or people that will bring feelings of loving kindness and appreciation. With practice, we can instantaneously transform negative emotions into positive ones. People who can do this show improvements in their immune systems and electro-cardiograms within five minutes. Heartbeats that were originally irregular became regular and stronger. With respect to tests of immune systems (secretory immunoglobin A(S-IgA)), a person’s S-IgA decreaseds a lot when he/she recalls someone or an event that arouses anger in him. S-IgA remains below normal even six hours later. In contrast, when feelings of appreciation and loving kindness arise in the person, S-IgA begins to rise, and continues to be above normal levels six hours later.

Dr William Tiller was the former head of the Stanford University’s electrical engineering department. In his spare time, he has been investigating the relation between mind and body, as well as para-psychology phenomena. He has knowledge and research background  on acupuncture and related treatments. After learning the Heartmath method, he wanted to use himself as a human subject to test the method’s efficacy. He had two problems (1994) — one related to frequent urination, and the other to the outbreak of rashes the morning after he has taken sweet things. At first, he thought that abstaining from desserts and sweet food will cure the problem.  However, he felt that his problem had to do with his pancreas, stomach, and liver functions. When he entered into a state of loving kindness, he sent this loving kindness to his pancreas, stomach and liver, and repeated this four times to each of his organs. The whole process took thirty minutes, and he did this once a day. Two weeks later, his problem with rashes was cured. He then followed up with treatment of his frequent urination problem, and felt that this problem had to do with his urinary system and prostrate glands. As before, he spent thirty minutes daily to send loving kindness to these organs. Again, two weeks later, this problem was also cured. Dr Tiller emphasized that he is not advocating dispensing with the need to see a doctor when one is ill. Rather, when ailments are not that serious, it is worthwhile using one’s mental states to recover one’s health.

Dr Tiller’s method reminds me of a Chinese qigong methods—Le gong (Happy Gong) or Xiantian Zhiran gong. The method is also effective in treating ailments, as long as one possesses joy, happiness, and an open heart. One begins by pretending to be happy and eventually the happiness becomes real. Both eastern and western healing approaches, although seemingly different, do share the same underlying principle—using positive emotional states to regulate one’s health.

The current living environment is replete with conditions that can lead to ailments. Hence, as a preventative and curative approach, it is important to generate within us mind states that are filled with loving kindness, joy, appreciation, and gratitude.


Nathanieklsz, Peter. The Prenatal Prescription, Harper Collins Publishers, 2001.

Tiller, William. Science and Human Transformation, Pavior, 1997.


Extracted from Lapis Lazuli Light Magazine 2002 May Issue

Translated by Lapis Lazuli Light Singapore