Asthma is a lung disease that has been increasing over the last 50 years, that makes breathing difficult for millions of people around the world. There is no cure for asthma, but the good news is it can be managed and treated so you can live a normal, healthy life.
Asthma is a chronic, disease that inflames and narrows the airways of your lungs. Even when you are not having symptoms, you still have inflammation in your lungs.
Asthma is primarily an inflammatory condition triggered by various stimuli. Asthma sufferers experience breathing difficulties due to a partial blockage of the airways. This blockage is characterised by the symptoms of wheezing, coughing and excessive mucus production.
The most common form of treatment for children or adults who for asthma treatment are pharmaceutical medication such as Ventolin, Seretide, Flixotide and other steroids/immunosuppressants.
How Can Naturopathic Medicine Help Asthma?
Naturopathic medicine uses natural therapies to address the underlying cause of asthma. In the specific case of asthma, which has an immune system component, Naturopathic therapies focus on determining which allergens might be triggering the asthmatic condition and simultaneously restoring the balance of the immune system.
Naturopathic treatment for asthma is individualized based upon a detailed analysis of a physical exam, health history, current health issues, and current medications. Treatments may include dietary supplements, herbal medicine, nutrition, soft tissue work, joint manipulation, laser acupuncture, and homoeopathy.
Know your Asthma triggers!
It’s important to know what your asthma triggers are and how to minimize your exposure to them. Triggers vary from person to person, so you will have to learn which ones are problems for you. While it’s impossible to avoid every single asthma trigger, there may be things you can do to help.
Intrinsic Asthma – Environmental
The various stimuli which can trigger environmental or intrinsic asthma include inhaled allergens such as airborne chemicals, pollens, pesticides, dust mites, cockroaches, moulds, and cigarette smoke.
Extrinsic Asthma – Immunological
Immunological or extrinsic asthma is stimulated by infections, allergies, digestive disturbances, and hot, cold, or dry air. Bowel toxicity, exercise and emotions can also trigger the release of chemicals that causes constriction of the airways (bronchospasm), inflammation and excessive mucus production.
The Nature of Asthma Attacks
An asthma attack commonly has two phases.
Phase 1: The early phase of an asthma attack – within the first 30 minutes. Whatever the trigger, it causes constriction of the airways, resulting in a reduction of air being expired.
Phase 2: About 4-8 hours after the first phase, there is a late phase that activates the immune system. This second phase is more inflammatory in nature. Swelling of the bronchiole tubes is often accompanied by excessive mucus which causes breathing difficulties, frequently resulting in emergency visits to the hospital.
Chronic asthmatic patients experience some degree of continual breathing restriction. This may be due to persistent inflammatory stimulus from extrinsic sources such as bowel toxins, food allergens and bad organisms in the gut. Treatment must address the fundamental cause – continued immune system activation
This diet seeks to balance dietary protein with carbohydrates and good fats. Following this type of diet can help the body control inflammatory responses by reducing the production of inflammatory mediators (eicosanoids) incited by high levels of insulin.
As well as using this diet, it is best to avoid:
· PROCESSED FOODS
· ANIMAL FATS
· DAIRY PRODUCTS
· COMMON FOOD ALLERGENS
Studies have shown that many asthmatics have food sensitivities to egg, fish, shellfish, nuts, milk, chocolate, wheat, citrus fruit, sulphites and food colourings. (Contact Natalie Fox for more information.)
Broad-spectrum antioxidant protection that includes nutrients such as quercetin and bromelain can strongly inhibit inflammatory responses which cause airway swelling and mucus production. Antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene protect the lungs by absorbing inflammatory free radicals, which may trigger an asthma attack. Anti-inflammatory herbs like Ginkgo Biloba, tylophlora and galphimia can also reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.
Nutritional support for the neuromuscular system includes magnesium supplementation, which assists in relaxing the airways. During an asthma attack, it is vital to keep the bronchial muscles relaxed. Deficiencies in magnesium increase the potential for bronchial spasms and constriction. Prolonged physical and/or emotional stress can cause magnesium deficiency by increasing the excretion of magnesium in urine.
Magnesium deficiency also increases the release of histamine, which further increases airway constriction. Studies have shown that the average Australian diet is low in magnesium.
The use of specially bonded chelates can double magnesium absorption, and reduce the diarrhoea commonly caused by high doses of magnesium. Supplementation with taurine acts to decrease the tendency of the nerves to cause airway constriction.
Fatty acids are used in the treatment of asthma because they inhibit chemical substances which cause bronchoconstriction and mucus production during an asthma attack. These fatty acids include evening primrose oil, fish oils and vitamin E. They have been shown to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks and improve breathing. It is important to have vitamin E added to essential fatty acid formulas to prevent damage to the nutrients by oxidation.
THE QUALITY OF NUTRITIONAL AND HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS IS DETERMINED BY THE PRODUCT FORMULATION, QUALITY OF RAW MATERIALS USED AND THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PRACTITIONER FOR THE BEST FORM OF NUTRITIONAL AND HERBAL SUPPORT FOR YOUR NEEDS.
Controlling and Managing Asthma by working closely with your healthcare providers.
- Asthma Action Plan (Must be completed by a General Practioner)
- Asthma Management Plan
- Try to avoid your asthma triggers
- Take antioxidants
- Take magnesium supplements
- Avoid physical and emotional stress
- Take fatty acids such as fish oils and evening primrose oil
- Avoid allergenic foods
- Eat a wholesome diet
If your Asthma is well controlled then, you should expect:
- Few, if any, asthma symptoms.
- Few, if any, awakenings during the night caused by asthma symptoms.
- No need to take time off from school or work due to asthma.
- Few or no limits on participation in your usual daily activities.
- No asthma-related emergency department visits.
- No asthma-related hospital stays.