There are plenty of articles on the web already discussing asthma symptoms, asthma treatments and asthma diagnostics. Instead the focus of this blog will be some natural solutions for asthma, and will discuss herbs for asthma and vitamins for asthma.
In New Zealand, asthma is estimated to affect nearly 1 in 4 people. That’s about 25% of the population or about 800,000 people. Most people in New Zealand know of someone young or old that has at some stage in their life had asthma.
True Story - How Dangerous Asthma can be
"When I was about 7 years old there was a girl in my class whom I fell in puppy-love with, especially when she played the princess in our school production. I recall telling the teacher that she actually looked like a real princess, though true to love’s tale she scorned me. She had asthma as it turned out and I recall seeing her using her inhaler on a regular basis, even to the point that I thought it was so cool I asked my mum if I too could have an inhaler... She said no.
Over the years I saw her in the general crowd of people, though as she grew into a teenager I recall her developing into a very stunning person – I still had a flame for her. And then one day the news came that she had died overnight of an asthma attack. An ambulance crew had attended but could not save her. Suddenly I knew how serious Asthma was, and as I was to learn in later years, how challenging and debilitating it can be, and of course how asthma in children can be life threatening and seriously affect their physical development as well as their enjoyment of childhood."
An asthma attack is a scary, life threatening event that affects a wide range of people.
Luckily apart from the medical use of inhalers and the like, there are asthma natural remedies available.
Magnesium is needed by all muscles in the body to help relax them, and you would be surprised where muscles spring up. One place is of course in the lungs. It has both external breathing muscles and internal muscles. The external muscles work to inflate and deflate the lungs and are rarely affected by asthma. The internal muscles however dilate or constrict the bronchioles. The bronchioles are the tubes that lead into the alveoli, which in turn are the small grape-cluster looking air sacs that are responsible for transporting oxygen into the body. It is the bronchioles that can become constricted and blocked in asthma, making breathing difficult.
The muscles of the bronchioles need magnesium to relax and dilate the airways, allowing air to flow freely. While of debatable use during an asthma attack, supplemental magnesium does have a reputation for lessening the occurrence and severity of attacks, especially those who suffer from nervous asthma.
Ivy Leaf is the wild ivy seen growing up the side of old English cottages and manors. Used for hundreds of years by herbalists for respiratory ailments, it now has three known actions on the lungs.
- It helps dilate the airways
- Helps relaxes the muscles
- Helps mucous become more liquid which means it can be coughed up easier.
This means that a regular intake of Ivy Leaf can possibly help ease some of the asthma symptoms, especially if they have a lung infection or are recovering from one. Excess mucous that cannot be coughed up easily can reduce the lungs ability to take in oxygen – here Ivy Leaf may be of assistance.
Ivy Leaf actions read like it was almost made for asthmatics.
IMMUNE BOOSTING SUPPLEMENTS
Getting sick is always a challenge for an asthmatic. Any inflammation of the airways due to infection can seriously constrict an already constricted airway, even minor coughs and colds. Anything that helps the immune system fight off the infection before it takes hold or speed up recovery is a real boon.
Vitamin C has stood the test of time, and many people attest to its ability during the cold and flu season to help reduce the number of and the severity of infections. Use during cold and flu season can reduce asthma attacks.
Proline rich polypepdtides (PRPs) isolated from colostrum powder powerfully stimulate the immune system when both well and sick. When the body is under attack a full immune response can take hours or days to fire up. PRPs stimulate this system within 20 minutes of ingestion. A good idea is to dose yourself when cold/flu season hits.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus DV. Don’t be put off by the long name – it has a proven track record of helping when a person’s immune function is down. An amazing discovery after the 1987 Chenobyl nuclear reactor disaster was a special type of probiotic that stimulates the body’s deep immune response, even when blasted with radiation as it turns out. One of the body systems affected by radiation is the immune system and this probiotic was used to help rebuild the health of those affected by the blast. That’s a real strong testament to this humble little supplement. It is known as
MUCOUS MEMBRANE HEALTH
Lining the airways, air sacs, bronchioles and aveoli are a type of tissue known as epithelial tissue which in turn is one of the body’s mucous membranes. In the lungs they perform the task of letting oxygen into the body but they also have to ward off invading bacteria and viruses. Luckily this tissue secretes a type of anti-bacterial and anti-viral ooze that kills any wandering invader, and provides a natural barrier to prevent them getting easy access inside the body.
However if the invader turns up in great numbers, or the nutrition normally feeding the lungs is diverted to feed the immune response, then the ability of the tissues lining the lungs may be impaired. Both secreting protective ooze and keeping the lung barrier intact is dependent on a handful of vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin A helps keep the lining of the lungs healthy and intact. Keeping it intact is really important, as one of the functions of viruses and bacteria is to try and breach this barrier and infect the entire body. Extra Vitamin A is needed when fighting off infections and can help keep viruses and bacteria at bay.
Zinc is used to help secrete that ooze I mentioned before. Again like Vitamin A it can help prevent infections and is needed in greater amounts when an infection is present.
Selenium, a vital trace element needed within all cells where one of its functions is help prevent the cell from becoming infected. Interestingly, viruses try and pump selenium out of the cell it is trying to infect.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
Omega 3 from fish and krill oil, and omega 6 GLA (gamma linoleic acid) from Evening Primrose Oil have major anti-inflammatory properties in the human body.
Long term dosing of these relevant to a person’s body weight and condition can help reduce inflammation over time. The lining of the lungs like all tissues in the body are made up of cells. The cells generate inflammation when under attack or damaged as a natural response. The inflammation helps engorge the area with fluid so that the immune fighting white blood cells can easily access the cells under attack.
Low level inflammation can be present in asthmatics even when not sick.
Cell walls that are low in Omega 3 and Omega 6 GLA make a type of inflammation that tends to make the inflammation even worse. Where levels of these are found in high concentration in the cell walls of the tissue lining the lungs, inflammation is moderate or in some cases virtually nonexistent.
PROBIOTICS (friendly bowel bacteria)
No blog on asthma should be written without mentioning probiotics. While probiotics appear to be only in the gut, there is a recognised action on the lungs that most natural health practitioners have seen over the years.
Increasing the numbers of friendly bowel bacteria can help improve asthma all round, both in terms of breathing, lung volume capacity, and reducing coughs and colds. No one seems to be sure why, but it seems that the tissue that lines the lung and the tissue that lines the gut stem from the same embryonic tissue. We know that if the lining of the gut is irritated, as in the use of expectorants, then the lungs mucous removing action is increased. Conversely if the lining of the gut is soothed, via herbal agents known as demulcents, then the lung tissues are calmed and soothed in turn.
Two of the best researched strains of probiotics are Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG™ and Bifidobacterium animalis BB-12™. A good probiotic product should have a couple of letters or numbers after it stating what strain it belongs to.
While asthma is a serious condition affecting many New Zealanders and people around the world, there are many natural health supplements available to offer help.