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ASTHMA - natural treatments and remedies
- What is asthma?
- How do I treat asthma naturally?
- Asthma: Natural treatments and remedies
- Diet for asthma
- Supplements for asthma
- Herbs for asthma
- Lifestyle guidance for asthma
- Mind, body, spirit for asthma
- Homoeopathy for asthma
What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways. The airways are the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. If you have asthma, the inside walls of your airways are inflamed. The inflammation makes the airways very sensitive, and they tend to react strongly to things that you are allergic to or find irritating. When the airways react, they get narrower, and less air flows through to your lung tissue. This causes symptoms like wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), coughing, chest tightness, and trouble breathing, especially at night and in the early morning.
Asthma cannot be cured, but most people with asthma can control it so that they have few and infrequent symptoms and can live active lives.
When your asthma symptoms become worse than usual, it is called an asthma episode or attack. During an asthma attack, muscles around the airways tighten up, making the airways narrower so less air flows through. Inflammation increases, and the airways become more swollen and even narrower. Cells in the airways may also make more mucus than usual. This extra mucus also narrows the airways. These changes make it harder to breathe.
Asthma is a disease of both adults and children. In fact, asthma is the most common chronic childhood illness. About half of all cases of asthma develop before the age of 10. Many children with asthma also have allergies.
Asthma attacks are not all the same—some are worse than others. In a severe asthma attack, the airways can close so much that not enough oxygen gets to vital organs. This condition is a medical emergency and people can die from severe asthma attacks.
Asthma is most likely caused by a combination of several factors. Experts suggest that in people who are susceptible (genetically predisposed), factors such as allergens (substances that commonly induce an allergic reaction), infections, dietary patterns, exercise, cigarette smoke, and stress can bring on an asthma attack.
The primary symptoms of asthma include:
Coughing. Coughing from asthma is often worse at night or early in the morning, making it hard to sleep.
Wheezing. Wheezing is a whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe.
Chest tightness. This can feel like something is squeezing or sitting on your chest.
Shortness of breath. Some people say they can't catch their breath, or they feel breathless or out of breath. You may feel like you can't get enough air in or out of your lungs.
Faster breathing or noisy breathing.
Childhood asthma in particular can be triggered by almost all of the same things that trigger allergies, such as the following:
- Sensitivity to allergens in the air, such as dust, animal dander, indoor and outdoor mold, pollens
- Respiratory infections
- Air pollutants, such as smoke from tobacco or a fireplace, aerosols, perfumes, fresh newsprint, diesel particles, sulfur dioxide, elevated ozone levels, and fumes from paint, cleaning products, and gas stoves
- Changes in the weather, especially in temperature (particularly cold) and humidity
- Behaviours that affect breathing (exercising, laughing, crying, yelling)
- Food intolerances
How can I treat asthma naturally?
Avoiding asthma attacks, reducing inflammation, and preventing lung damage are the primary goals of treatment. This requires educating yourself about asthma, working closely with your health provider to determine the severity of your asthma and to define a treatment plan, and following recommendations. Adjusting your environment as much as possible to prevent exposure to allergens or irritants is important for the successful control of asthma. Certain nutritional changes, particularly increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet and decreasing omega-6 fatty acids, and others that we outline below may be useful, natural treatment protocols for your asthma.
ASTHMA - natural treatment and remedies
Diet for asthma
Studies indicate that people with asthma tend to have low levels of certain nutrients (for example, selenium and potassium) and that the Western diet (high in fast foods and low in fresh fruits and vegetables) has been associated with higher rates of asthma. In fact, fried foods and margarine may be particularly bad, especially in children. Essential fatty acids should be a regular part of an asthma sufferers diet
In terms of dietary changes relative to Essential Fatty Acid's people with asthma should try to eat foods rich an omega-3 fatty acids (such as cold-water fish, flaxseed's, pumpkin seeds and walnuts). Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and limiting foods with omega-6 fatty acids (found, for example, in egg yolks, meats, and cooking oils including corn and safflower) may reduce allergy symptoms in general. This is because omega-3 fatty acids tend to decrease inflammation while omega-6 fatty acids (other than GLA) tend to increase inflammation.
On the other hand, it has been suggested that adding onion, garlic, pungent spices, and antioxidants (such as foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids, and beta-carotene) to the diet may help reduce symptoms. It is recommended that lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are eaten.
Eat foods such as fruit that are high in vitamin C
Aloe Vera juice is a useful food for helping to treat asthma.
Slippery Elm powder may be added to the diet often to good effect (1tsp in a little water twice a day for adults)
Include green drinks in your diet including spirulina, wheat grass, and chlorella.
Remember cold drinks and foods such as ice cream can sometimes shock the bronchials into spasms so use with caution
If there is a food trigger that may manifest as allergy or food intolerance causing the asthma, it important important to identify this first. An elimination diet may need to followed foowed or organise a food allergy test including IgE and IgG panels from your health practitioner
Reducing the intake of foods that may stimulate inflammation (such as full fat dairy products, sugar, and highly processed foods) may also improve the symptoms.
Check for salicylate food triggers that in some people cause histamine and inflammatory disorders such as asthma. include include apples, berries, tomatoes, oranges, plums, raspberries, peppers, prunes, strawberries and peanuts.
Congesting foods such as banana, chocolate, potatoes, fruit juice and dairy can be a trigger for other people
The severity of asthma has been linked to an increased salt intake in some cases.
Supplements for asthma
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Preliminary research on adults with asthma suggests that an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (from perilla seed oil, which is rich in alpha-linolenic acid [ALA], an important omega-3 fatty acid) may reduce inflammation and improve lung function.
Quercetin, which is a member of a group of antioxidants called flavonoids, inhibits the production and release of histamine and other allergic/inflammatory substances. Histamine is a substance that contributes to allergy symptoms such as a runny nose, watery eyes, and hives. Like other flavonoids, quercetin is a plant pigment responsible for colors seen in fruits and vegetables. Quercetin supplements often include bromelain (an enzyme found in pineapple), which is also an anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy agent. Bromelain increases the absorption of quercetin.
Although research is limited, there is some indication that vitamin C, particularly from fresh fruit in your diet, may be useful for treating allergy-related conditions such as asthma.
Studies suggest that people with asthma tend to have low blood levels of selenium. In addition, a population-based study (studies that evaluate groups of people) suggested that eating selenium-rich foods may have a protective effect against asthma.
There is some evidence that this "good" organism (called a probiotic), which is found naturally in the gut, may reduce the risk of developing an allergic reaction, including asthma. In fact, some early evidence suggests that if mothers who have at least one relative with asthma, or some other allergy-related illness, take this probiotic while pregnant and breastfeeding, their babies may be less likely to develop asthma.
Herbs for asthma
Herbs will be prescribed to help with the following
As asthma is a complex condition involving immune system dysfunction and characterised by airway inflammation and hyper-reactivity the aims of herbal treatment will be diverse. In particular the aims of Treatment
• Regulate immune function.
• Strengthen airways and reduce hypersensitivity.
• Reduce excessive mucous production and bronchospasm.
• Treat any underlying causative or sustaining factors such as airway inflammation, allergy, respiratory infections, gastric reflux and sinusitis.
Herbalists may select from the following herbs that have been used traditionally to treat asthma (amongst others not mentioned):
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea)
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
Red Clover (Trifolium pretense)
Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa)
Ephedra (Ephedra sinicia)
Tylophora (tylophera asthmatica)
Licorice (Glycyrrhiz glabra)
Boswellia serrata (also known as Salai guggal)
Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)
Lobelia has a long history of use. It is considered an effective expectorant, meaning that it helps clear mucus from the respiratory tract. Although there are few thorough studies on the safety and effectiveness of lobelia, some herbalists today incorporate lobelia into a comprehensive treatment plan for asthma. Lobelia is a potentially toxic herb, but is considered relatively safe when used in combination with other herbs that affect the respiratory system. Lobelia use should only be considered with the guidance of a qualified health care practitioner.
Lifestyle guidance for asthma
- Quit smoking
- Lose weight if you are overweight and already have asthma; although the connection between obesity and asthma is not entirely understood, excess weight may put pressure on the lungs and trigger an inflammatory response.
- Keep a diary of respiratory complaints – this may help determine triggers
- Although exercise can be a trigger for asthma in some people, with appropriate treatment and monitoring of the condition, exercise, even vigorous exercise, is possible. In fact, many world-class athletes have asthma.
- Often asthma is triggered by environmental conditions. These tips may be helpful :
Cover the pillows and mattress with dust mite covers
Use an air purifier
To reduce mold clean moldy surfaces. Mold is often found in air conditioners,humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and refrigerator drip pans
Reduce indoor humidity to less than 50% using dehumidifiers
Fix water leaks and clean up water damage
Avoid carpets and upholstered furniture
Wash bedding every week in hot water
Keep stuffed toys out of the bed(room)
Encase pillows and beds with allergen-proof covers
- Buteyko training for the natural relief of asthma symptoms. It is a useful breath centered therapy centred can be very very, useful for reducing symptoms
www.buteykocourses.com Glen White 09 360 6291 or 021 428839 for New Zealand courses
Although there is no method guaranteed to prevent asthma, there are a number of measures parents can take to reduce their child's risk of developing asthma. These include:
- Exclusively breastfeeding for the first 3 to 6 months of life; this issue is controversial, however, with the most recent (and largest) study suggesting that breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life helps to protect the child up to age two, but may increase the risk once the child is older than two years.
- Delaying the introduction of solid food until age 6 months
- Manipulating the child's environment (not smoking during pregnancy or around infants, eliminating household allergens such as mites and cockroaches. For example, to reduce exposure to dust mites, encase mattresses and pillows in special covers that are impermeable to allergens; also, remove carpets from bedrooms.)
Mind, Body, Spirit for asthma
Asthma can be made worse by stress, anxiety, and sadness. In the other direction, if you have asthma, it is not uncommon to feel anxious or depressed. Incorporating stress management techniques into daily life may help reduce symptoms. Experts suggest that the following may prove helpful for people with asthma:
- Education about asthma
- Hypnosis – this may be especially useful in children because they are more easily hypnotized and can readily learn the technique.
- Yoga – in addition to general relaxation and reduction of stress, several studies of people with asthma have suggested that lung function and exercise capacity may improve with the regular practice practise yoga and that, eventually, the amount of medication taken may be reduced. The yoga that has been practiced practised most of these studies has involved breathing exercises (called pranayama), stretches (known as postures in yoga), and meditation. Additional research would be helpful on larger numbers of people to understand more about the effects of yoga on asthma. Medication should never be adjusted without discussing this with your doctor.
- Joining a support group
Homeopathy for asthma
A Proffessional homoeopath may consider the following remedies for the treatment of asthma based on their knowledge and experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type. A constitutional type is defined as a person's physical, emotional, and psychological makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate treatment for each individual. At Natures Clinicals we recommend that with a condition like asthma one must be careful using homoepathics without proffessional advice.
Arsenicum album - for asthma that generally worsens between midnight and 2 am and is accompanied by restlessness, anxiety, chills, and thirst
Ipecacuanha - for those with asthma, particularly children, who have significant tightness in the chest, a chronic cough with lots of phlegm that may lead to vomiting, and worsening of symptoms in hot, humid weather
Pulsatilla - for asthma with yellow or greenish phlegm that gets worse in the evening, in warm, stuffy rooms, or after consuming rich, fatty foods; this remedy is most appropriate for adults or children who are tearful and clingy or sweet and affectionate
Sambucus - for asthma that awakens a person at night with a sensation of suffocation; symptoms worsen when the person is lying down