Asthma is an inflammatory disease where the muscles of the bronchial tubes contract in spasm, obstructing the flow of air and making breathing difficult.
The spasms characterizing the attract are a result of a chronic inflammation and sensitivity of the bronchii to certain stimuli. These can be either intrinsic, where there is no identifiable cause, or extrinsic where something external triggers the attack. The bronchial tubes swell, and become blocked with mucus, which cause further inflammation and increased sensitivity. Attacks become more frequent as the inflammation becomes more severe. Allergens, pollution, smoking, infection, emotional trauma and physical exertion are all implicated in attacks and the commonest form of drug therapy is with immuno-suppressant steroids.
Can I Do Anything About It?
If your asthma is caused by an external allergens, then obviously you should do everything you can to avoid inhaling this substance. Common allergens include house dust mites, pet hair, traffic fumes, food additives and feathers. The nutritional approach is to address the underlying inflammation and to strengthen and support the immune system, so the body can right the ultra-sensitivity which has developed.
The diet needs to be as balanced and nutritious as possible – sugars, excess wheat and dairy (very mucous forming), and processed or ready-made foods all need to be excluded, and meat intake reduced. Ideally a low-GI diet (see separate fact sheets for this) should be followed as this is most helpful in assisting the supplement regime. Foods rich in sterols and sterolins should be added (seeds, nuts, rice bran, oysters, clams avocado) as should antioxidant rich foods especially tomatos (lycopene) berries, especially blueberries, turmeric and ginko. These all provide substances which help damp down the inflammatory effects. Cholesterol reducing spreads can block the take up of sterols and sterolins as can excess consumption of meat and dairy.
A good, high quality multi-vitamin and mineral – I recommend the Usana Essentials which are some of the most potent and best quality I have found.
Extra B vitamins are required, especially B6 and B12, so take a balanced B Complex.
1 gm of Vitamin C daily in addition to the multi-vitamin
3 – 4 gm daily of Omega 3 fatty acids
If there are no external allergens which trigger your asthma, a similar regime to the above also needs to be followed, because you still need to damp down the inflammatory reactions, but it is worthwhile adding in flower essences to help alleviate any stress related triggers. Rescue Remedy (Bach) or Emergency Essence (Australian Bush Flowers) should be taken when you feel and attack coming on.
A further consideration is that people with asthma often have low stomach acid. Excellent results have been obtained by supplementing Betaine Hydrochloride with the above nutrients.
Also be wary of food additives, as these have been implicated in many cases – tartrazine, sunset yellow, amaranth, coccine, non-azo dye pate blue, sodium benzoate, sulphur dioxide and 4-hydroxybenzoate esters all need to be looked out for.
Drinking adequate amounts of water – 2 litres daily – is also important. Research has shown that the more dehydrated you are the thicker your blood becomes, and thickened blood reaching the lungs increases the production of histamine, which can trigger an attack. So drink plenty of water daily, and cut back on dehydrating drinks such as coffee, tea and alcohol.
Tissue Salts – No 4 Ferr Phos, No 5 Kali Mur, No 6 Kali Phos, No 7 Kali Sulph and No 11 Nat Sulph. Add in No 12 Silica after an attack to help healing.
Flower Essences – as well as the Emergency Essence the following are all indicated (from the Australian Bush Flower Range): Bluebell, Boab and Illawarra Flame Tree, Bush Iris & Dagger Hakea & Fringed Violet, Crowea, Flannel Flower, Red Grevillea, Sturt Desert Pea, Tall Mulla Mulla and Tall Yellow Top. See a practitioner for this combination or order an Individual essence from us.
Herbs: There are a large number of herbs which all help combat inflammatory processes and boost the immune system. Amongst them are:
Echinacea, licorice root, boswellia, pau d’arco, nettle, ginkgo biloba
Naturopathic technique: castor oil packing to the lungs and kidney areas can be beneficial.
Note: painkillers such are aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and piroxicam account for over 2/3rds of drug-related asthma triggers.