CONVENTIONAL medications are often helpful for treating acute asthma attacks and for preventing recurrences. However, despite the best that modern دوائی has to offer, many مریضs continue to تجربہ acute attacks and/or chronic, low-level breathing difficulties. Moreover, most of the medications استعمالd to treat asthma can caاستعمال side effects. New ideas are needed if we are to win the battle against asthma.
—Jonathan Wright, M.D., co-author of Natural Medicine, Optimal Wellness
If you’ve ever seen someone having an asthma attack, you know it’s not pretty.
And according to those who suffer from them, an attack can be one of the scariest تجربہs in life. Muscles around the sufferer’s airways tighten up, less air can get in, inflammation increases, the airways become even more swollen and narrow, and it becomes harder and harder to breathe. During a bad attack, the person with asthma may literally feel like he’s suffocating and can’t breathe. In severe cases, the airways can close so much that not enough oxygen gets to the vital organs—at which point it’s a full-blown medical emergency.
You can die from that kind of attack, and approximately 4,000 to 5,000 people a year do just that. And asthma is a contributing factor to 7,000 other deaths each year.
Asthma comes from Greek words meaning either “panting” or “sharp breath.” It’s a chronic disease affecting the pathways that carry air in and out of the lungs. Those airways become inflamed and sensitive to a variety of substances (in air, food, or the environment) that are irritating or allergenic. That’s one reason asthma is so often linked to allergies.
Asthma is widely understood by almost everyone to be an immunological problem. The immune system mistakenly identifies substances—pollens, dust, dander, foods, etc.—as being dangerous and overreacts, setting up a cascade of events that leads to inflammation in the lungs and a narrowing of the air passages.
If that overreaction of the immune system to everyday stimuli sounds somewhat like the description of an allergy, it’s becaاستعمال they’re not entirely dissimilar. Allergic asthma is a specific type of asthma that can be triggered by an allergy to, for example, pollen or mپرانی. And it’s common: In the United States, it’s estimated that about half of asthma sufferers have allergic asthma.
Becaاستعمال allergies (and asthma) are inflammatory disorders, it makes sense that a diet high in natural anti-inflammatory agents (e.g., vegetables and some fruits) is going to be a good idea for sufferers. And for asthma—and allergies—one of the best and most powerful of the natural anti-inflammatories is a substance called quercetin.
In the coloring of fruits and vegetables there are thousands of molecules known collectively as polyphenols. One particular class of these polyphenols is called flavonoids. And the most abundant, most bioavailable, and most studied of these flavonoids is a compound called quercetin.
Quercetin—which was called “the most important flavonoid” by the peer-reviewed journal Nutrition in Cancer—is anti-inflammatory, making it استعمالful in helping to calm the symptoms of asthma (and allergies). It’s found in onions, apples, berries, tea, red wine, and supplements. In one study published in 2002 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, higher quercetin intakes were associated with a lower incidence of asthma.
“Quercetin has a very unique molecular structure,” says David Nieman, Ph.D., author of Nutritional Assessment and head of the Appalachian State University Human Performance Lab. “It has many effects in humans. It impacts the immune system, it reacts against cancer cells, and it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory.”
In the voluminous literature linking dietary habits and disease, quercetin has an impressive history of being linked to a reduction in heart disease as well as to a reduction in lung cancer. Epidemiological studies have suggested that high consumption of apples may protect against asthma, and quercetin may be the main reason why.
The quercetin in the apple is, interestingly enough, in the peel. “The peel prevents the harmful effects of the UV rays of the sun from hurting the fruit,” Nieman says. “It also prevents microbes from getting in. So quercetin is the first line of defense for the apple. It appears to have many of these same protective effects on human cells.”
One of the reasons quercetin is so helpful with asthma (and allergies) has to do with cells in the جسم known as mast cells. Mast cells are responsible for a lot of the crummy symptoms you have when you get an allergy attack or تجربہ asthmatic wheezing. The mast cells, which are actually part of the immune system, carry around all sorts of granules, the most famous of which is histamine. During an attack—of allergies or asthma—the mast cells release histamine and other chemicals like cytokines and leukotrines, causing the characteristic symptoms that drive everyone, especially the sufferer, crazy. Quercetin stabilizes the mast cells, calming them down. When you put quercetin in a test tube with mast cells, they relax. And that’s exactly what you want, whether you’re suffering from an allergy attack, asthmatic wheezing, or both.
Asthma and allergies share a relationship to emotional stress. Even conventional doctors, especially the younger ones, now know that asthma has significant emotional triggers in addition to its physical components. Anxiety and stress are common asthma triggers—just as they are for so many other conditions and symptoms. It’s not that emotions caاستعمال asthma, but they can make symptoms a lot worse. Strong emotions can even trigger an attack.
Stress management may be one of the best natural cures, or adjuncts, for managing asthma severity. Learn to recognize both thought patterns and behavior patterns that are stressful for you and develop techniques for cutting them off at the pass.
Image therapy is a method of treating asthma that was devised by a psychologist named Elizabeth Shafer who herself suffered from debilitating asthma. Image therapy can help prevent you from panicking or stressing out at the first sign of an asthma event, which only makes everything worse. Buteyko therapy, which teaches a different way of breathing, is also worth looking into.
Although external environmental substances (like pollen) can trigger some asthma, food can also trigger or exacerbate the condition. According to Alan Gaby, M.D., an unrecognized food allergy (and/or food intolerance) is a contributing factor in at least 75 percent of people with childhood asthma and about 40 percent of those with adult asthma.
“As early as 1959, Albert H. Rowe, M.D., a pioneer in the field of food allergy, successfully treated 95 asthmatic مریضs with dietary changes alone,” Gaby says. At the top of the list of foods most likely to provoke asthma? Dairy products. Other usual suspects include انڈے, chocolate, wheat, corn, citrus fruits, and fish. Tartrazine (yellow dye #5) is believed to be a trigger for thousands of people.
One reason why food sensitivities and asthma show up together so often can be found in a study done decades ago by George Bray, M.D., and it has to do with stomach acid. In 1931, Bray compared children with and without asthma and found that while only one out of five non-asthmatic children was deficient in hydrochloric acid (HCl), four out of five of the asthmatic kids were. Low levels of HCl can significantly impair digestion and can increase allergies—or sensitivities—to foods.
In Bray’s study, when the low-acid kids were given HCl before or during meals and still avoided trigger foods, they had noticeable improvements in asthmatic attacks, and the attacks became shorter and less severe.
Natural Prescription for Asthma
Quercetin: 500 mg, twice a day (preferably taken with bromelain)
Magnesium: 300 to 600 mg
Vitamin B6: 50 to 200 mg
Vitamin C: 1,000 to 3,000 mg
Selenium: 200 mcg
Note: All dosages are daily dosages and in pill or capsule form unless otherwise noted.
People with asthma are subjected to increased oxidative stress, the damage done to cells by free radicals of oxygen molecules. One super antioxidant that has special importance to people with asthma is selenium. A number of studies have revealed low selenium levels in people with asthma, and one study—in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine—reported that study participants with the highest intakes of selenium were only about half as likely to have asthma as those who consumed the least. (Not much selenium was needed for the positive effect—less than 100 mcg.) The researchers suggested that part of the blame for Britain’s rising asthma rate might be the nation’s declining selenium intake.
Asthmatics have a higher need for vitamin C than do members of the general population. Low intakes of vitamin C from food or supplementation can lead to increased risks for asthma. One to two grams of vitamin C have been shown in studies to be the most helpful for asthmatics. Higher intakes (and blood levels) of vitamin C are related to decreased levels of histamine production.
Other supplements that may help with asthma include magnesium and vitamin B6. Low levels of B6 and magnesium are frequently found together with asthma, and some research has shown improvement in the frequency and severity of asthma symptoms with magnesium and B6 supplementation.