There are two main types of asthma – allergic type asthma (extrinsic) and intrinsic. Allergic type asthma is generally triggered by allergens in the air and by some foods, although it can be made worse by cold air, damp and exercise. Intrinsic asthma will be characterised often by gastroesophageal reflux, emotional upset and possibly infection, but also can be made worse by cold air, damp and exercise. Both are principally inflammatory disorders.
The cause of allergy can be diverse. Ordinary environmental allergens (pollens etc) can be a major cause of bronchospasm but so can sensitivity to sulphites.
Natural treatments should always include the reduction of environmental allergens as this can reduce the incidence of asthma hugely. This would include removing all animal hair, dust mites (vacuum mattresses, get a good mattress protector), airborne moulds (use a dehumidifier) and pollens as much as possible from the surrounding living area. I also find that putting clothing through a tumble drier to remove lint and washing all bedding weekly can help.
Avoiding being exposed to cigarette smoke, perfumes, cleaners, insecticides is always important.
Sulphites are found as preservatives in many foods, mainly wines but also in dried fruits, some fruit drinks and also soft drinks (usually the cheaper ones).
See page on ‘Sulphite Allergy’. Check the labels for (220).
A low B12 level, can in some cases be the cause of a difficulty in metabolising sulphites (which should break down into sulphates) and supplementation with this B vitamin may help greatly. Supplementing with B12 has also often been shown to improve sleep, appetite and general well being as well as reduce the shortness of breath on exertion.
As far as reducing inflammation and allergic reaction with supplements is concerned, by far the best type of product I have found is Quercetin, or any product containing Quercetin. It may well be combined with extra Vitamin C and/or Rutin and with herbs such as Horseradish and Marshmallow.
Quercetin as well as being an anti-histamine is also a wonderful anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial agent.
See the on-line shop for Quercetin
The link between reflux and asthma has long been suspected. Gastroesophageal reflux is often the result of poor digestion. Asthmatics very often have low stomach acids (hypochlorhydria), not high stomach acid as many people presume when they get reflux. Supplementing with food enzymes very effectively treats this condition and brings about a huge improvement in asthmatic episodes. I usually recommend a product which is entirely plant derived, contains an effective dosage of digestive enzymes and are extremely well tolerated.
See the on-line shop for enzymes.
The treatment does need to be continued over a long period of time as well as the dietary intake of dairy products (especially cheese) being reduced. In conjunction with the use of food enzymes it can also be helpful to use soothing demulcent type herbs that soothe the irritating effect of acids and reduce coughing and wheezing. Marshmallow is an excellent herb and can be added to other herbal mixes. Slippery elm can also be useful but needs to be used separately as a powder mixed to a smooth blend in water.
See page on ‘Heartburn/reflux’.
Minerals are very important too. In NZ a low Selenium level has been co-related to increasing the risk of asthma through decreasing antioxidant levels. Low zinc levels will also have this affect and will also decrease the ability of the body to heal and resist infection. Low magnesium levels also contribute. Low Magnesium will increase the amount of bronchial spasm, increase histamine release, and increase stress levels. Always make an effort to increase all mineral levels and as always the best way I have found of achieving this is to take Colloidal Minerals.
Herbal remedies can also be of great help in asthmatic conditions. I often use a combination of herbs such Marshmallow and/or Fenugreek, Elecampane, Licorice, Lobelia or Euphorbia, Horseradish and may add Thyme, Sage or Olive leaf to help prevent infection. It’s often a good idea to use a course of herbal remedies over the winter period and add as much onions and garlic to the diet as possible. (Not always easy with children, but worth a try!)
The relaxing herbs such as Passiflora, Valerian and Chamomile can be applicable if there is stress involved and may be used separately as needed.
If necessary herbal blends can be made specifically as needed.
Osteopathic treatments to relieve tension around the bronchials and thoracic area can help hugely.
Finally breathing exercises are invaluable. Try learning yoga breathing.