In the spotlight, this month is asthma and our Sussex health expert takes a closer look at help for those struggling with Asthma.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes inflammation of the airways and involves episodes of constriction of the bronchial tubes. Asthma affects over 5 million people in the UK. Symptoms include episodes of wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and increased mucus production. Genetics, allergy, environment, infection, emotions, and nutrition all play a role in the disease.
The triggers for asthma can be primarily allergic or primarily emotional or induced by exercise or respiratory infection, or it can occur with no obvious causes.
The “hygiene hypothesis” is a proposed explanation for why allergies and asthma are now epidemic, especially in developed countries. Research indicates that children who grow up in crowded and dirtier environments are less likely to develop asthma than children raised in cleaner, more protected environments. It is believed that the developing immune systems of less privileged children are exposed to a high quantity of germs from an early age and so become stronger and more protective against potential triggers.
Being overweight increases the risk and severity of asthma. Studies have shown that weight loss results in significant decreases in episodes of shortness of breath, increases in overall breathing capacity, and decreases the need for medication to control symptoms. There are a number of therapies that have been documented to significantly reduce the need for prescription drugs for people with asthma, including:
- Buteyko method – a form of breathing exercises originating in Russia
- Relaxation techniques
- High intake of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C: e.g. kiwi, broccoli, citrus fruit
- Consider histamine excess and eliminate high histamine-containing foods, including the deadly nightshade group
- Some asthmatics react to food additives, such as sulphites, tartrazine (yellow dye #5), and sodium benzoate, as well as natural salicylates
- Consider food allergies / sensitivities as a potential trigger
Consult a registered healthcare practitioner for more advice and testing of any of the above.
Nutritional supplement treatment options
Vitamin C – Double-blind research has shown that supplementation with 1 gram of vitamin C per day reduces the tendency of the bronchial passages to go into spasm; and reduces the severity and frequency of attacks among adults with asthma. Further double-blind trials have shown that supplementation with 1,000 to 1,500 mg of vitamin C per day for 2 to 14 days prevented attacks of exercise-induced asthma. A buffered form of vitamin C (such as calcium ascorbate) may work better for some asthmatics than regular vitamin C (ascorbic acid).
Probiotics – Low diversity of gut microbiota in early life is linked to a higher incidence of asthma. In recent reports, strains of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium breve potentially prevent and treat asthma. In a trial of 160 asthmatic children Lactobacillus strains reduced asthma severity and improved asthma control.
Fish Oil – There is evidence that children who eat oily fish may have a much lower risk of getting asthma. Moreover, double-blind trials have shown that children who received at least 300 mg per day of fish oil (providing both EPA and DHA) experienced significant improvement of asthma symptoms.
Lycopene, an antioxidant related to beta-carotene and found in tomatoes, may help to reduce the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma.
Magnesium levels are frequently low in asthmatics. Current evidence suggests that high dietary magnesium and supplementation of magnesium might help to prevent spasms of the bronchial passages that lead to an attack.
Pycnogenol, taken over a 3-month period, has been shown to significantly improve lung function and asthma symptoms and significantly reduce the need for inhalers in a group of children (ages 6 to 18 years) with asthma.
Selenium can reduce the incidence of an asthma attack by protecting against free-radical damage.
Vitamin B6 deficiency is common in asthmatics since it is depleted by certain asthma drugs. Vitamin B6 supplementation has ironically been shown to reduce the need for medication in children. It has also been shown to dramatically decrease frequency and severity of attacks in adults.
Bromelain reduces the thickness of mucus, which may be beneficial for those with asthma.
Quercetin, a flavonoid found in most plants, has an inhibiting action on lipoxygenase, an enzyme that contributes to problems with asthma.
Botanical treatment options
- Green-lipped mussel
- Ivy leaf
Article contributed by Dr Tracy S Gates, DO, DIBAK, L.C.P.H., Consultant, Pure Bio Ltd. Copyright © Pure Bio Ltd 2021. All rights reserved
Pure Bio Ltd are a leading UK supplier of the highest quality PURE nutritional supplements, based in Horsham, West Sussex. Visit www.purebio.co.uk for all your nutritional supplement needs.
If you’ve found this post about struggling with Asthma helpful, you may also like: