Natural therapies can be very helpful for asthma. This article discusses how to use a mix of natural therapies that can be very helpful.
Asthma, which reflects spasm and inflammation of the pipes carrying air in and out of your lungs, is becoming more common. This is no surprise, given the increase in allergens (including homes and offices with mold), nutritional deficiencies, and chemicals in our environment.
Although there are many helpful medications for asthma, and most of these are being reasonably prescribed by physicians, natural therapies that eliminate allergic sensitivity and decrease the tendency to inflammation can be very helpful. When added to simple approaches to decrease contact with allergens, these natural therapies help you feel much better—while decreasing the need for medications.
Begin by cleaning up your home. I recommend adding an electrostatic air cleaner into your furnace. This will pull allergens out of the air, and eliminated my daughter's asthma within days. Your heating/cooling service company can guide you and install it (cost ~ $700 but worth it). Be sure the air cleaner filters can fit in your dishwasher and wash them the first of each month. An alternative is a HEPA filter in your bedroom.
A special acupressure technique (called "NAET," click here for info and practitioners) can eliminate 1 allergy per visit. It knocked out my hay fever with one 20 minute visit. This is an excellent therapy for those with allergic asthma.
Critical nutrients for asthma include (in order of priority):
- Magnesium, vitamin B6 & B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium, molybdenum, beta carotene and quercitin (all in a good multivitamin powder in proper dosing) have been shown to decrease asthmatic symptoms significantly. I would begin with this simple but thorough way to get nutritional support.
- Boswellia 300 mg 3x day. This wonderful anti-inflammatory herbal (also called "frankincense") significantly reduced asthma relative to placebo after 6 weeks. We have seen this side benefit in people taking an herbal supplement that provides relief for muscle pain (with boswellia and white willow bark; or Curcumin, boswellia, nattokinase, and DLPA).
- Avoid food colorings and additives. Common asthma triggers include tartrazine yellow dye #5 (which one company used to color their asthma medications with in the 1970's—till they came to their senses!), benzoates and sulfites. Some foods act as triggers as well. Try an elimination diet for 7-10 days to see if the asthma symptoms improve off certain foods. It may be very enlightening!
- Adrenal support—e.g., Licorice or an herbal supplement that supports adrenal function can be very helpful in asthma, and may decrease the amount of prednisone needed by asthmatics.
- Lycopene 30-45 mg a day is helpful for exercise induced asthma. Though found in tomatoes, it takes around a pound of tomatoes, 11 ounces of tomato juice or 7 ounces of tomato paste to supply 30 mg of lycopene.
- Eliminate any leaky gut or yeast overgrowth problems (from the antibiotics and steroids the kids get for asthma).
- Immune support. This is why vitamin D was helpful in steroid resistant asthma. Thymic protein is also reasonable to add in therapy-resistant cases.
- Fish oil. This is an anti-inflammatory nutrient. It is most helpful for children with asthma—especially after the environmental triggers are removed. Tuna and salmon are good sources (fried and battered fish are NOT). Children who eat fish more than once a week have 1/3 the asthma risk of those eating minimal fish. Interestingly, children whose mothers took fish oil during the last 3 months of their pregnancy had a 63% lower risk of asthma than those whose mothers took placebo! (see Fish Oil During Pregnancy Prevents Childhood Asthma.)
More on Asthma
20 million Americans (1 in 15) suffer with asthma, with ½ of these having allergic triggers, and the prevalence has been growing over the last few decades. It kills over 4,000 Americans yearly and causes over 500,000 hospitalizations. If these patients were given IV magnesium (up to 1 gm/hr for 6-12 gms a day) and vitamin B6 (100 mg/day), I suspect many of these deaths could be avoided and hospital stays prevented or shortened.
Asthma attacks can vary from being mild to life-threatening. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, and/or chest tightness. Many factors can trigger an asthma attack, including allergens, infections, exercise, abrupt changes in the weather, or exposure to irritants (e.g., tobacco smoke).
Asthma has a genetic component. If only one parent has asthma, chances are 1 in 3 that each child will have asthma. If both parents have asthma, it is much more likely (7 in 10) that their children will have asthma.
The annual cost of asthma is estimated to be nearly $18 billion. This is another illness where a natural medicine approach added to medications can save lives and improve health—while lowering health care costs.
Visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America for more references on asthma frequency and social costs.
For more information and the references for the scientific studies on which the article is based, see:
- The Textbook of Natural Medicine by Joseph Pizzorno, ND. This is a "must have" reference text for anyone in health care.
- Nutritional Influences on Illness by Melvyn Werbach, MD. This is another "must have" reference text for anyone in health care.
- The Natural Pharmacy by Alan Gaby, MD. Dr. Gaby is a pioneer on the cutting edge of holistic medicine.