Asthma is chronic inflammation of the airways associated with excess swelling and mucus, resulting in obstructed airflow. The airways may be further blocked when an irritant, or trigger, causes bronchial spasms to occur. Conventional medications are often helpful for treating acute asthma attacks and for preventing recurrences. However despite the best that medicine has to offer, many patients continue to experience acute attacks and/or chronic low level breathing difficulties.
For both children and adults, asthma can often be controlled by avoiding allergenic foods and chemicals and taking nutritional supplements. In rare cases patients also need to be treated for a defect in the ability to detoxify sulphites. Individuals who respond to a nutritional approach may be able to discontinue or greatly reduce their medication.
Role of food allergy
Unrecognised food allergy is a contributing factor in at least 75% of childhood asthmatics and about 40% of adult asthmatics. As early as 1959, Albert H. Rose, M.D., a pioneer in the field of food allergy, successfully treated 95 asthmatic patients with dietary changes alone.
Foods most likely to provoke asthma include dairy products, eggs, chocolate, wheat, corn, citrus, and fish. Sulfites are a class of chemicals that can trigger asthma. Sulfites are found in wine and other alcoholic beverages and are often used as a preservative in deli and restaurants salad bars. Sulphites may also be present in processed foods.
Asthma reactions are known to occur to the dye tartrazine (E102),preservatives, benzoates (E210-219) and the preservative metabisulphite (E220-227)
It should be noted that skin tests are notoriously unreliable for diagnosing food allergies. The unreliability of skin tests may explain why conventional allergists do not believe food allergy has much to do with asthma. On the other hand conventional allergy testing is quite helpful for diagnosing allergies to inhalants such as molds, dust, pollen and trees.
A reliable method of identifying food allergies is to do an elimination diet
In 1931 Dr George Bray, an asthma specialist noted that 80% of 200 asthmatic children had underproduction of stomach acid and pepsin. Stomach acid and pepsin are responsible for digestion of food. When levels are low, this impairs digestions and lowers nutrient absorption and gradually increases allergies to foods. Research in 1979 proved food allergy, particularly to cow's milk, can cause the stomach problem in the first place.
So it becomes sort of circular - food allergies cause the stomach to malfunction, which leads to more food allergy and worsening of asthma.
In addition to avoiding allergic foods and chemicals, taking nutritional supplements can be helpful in treating asthma.
Vitamin B6 (50-100mg)
In a double blind study, 76 children with moderate or severe asthma received vitamin B6 200mg per day or placebo for 5 months. Compared with children given the placebo, those receiving Vitamin B6 had significantly fewer symptoms and attacks and required significantly less steroid medication.
Children who improved generally saw results by the second month.
Asthma is frequently associated with magnesium deficiency. Since magnesium promotes relaxation of bronchial muscles a deficiency of this mineral increase the likelihood that the bronchi to go into spasm and cause an attack. Magnesium deficiency can also increase the release of histamine into the blood stream, thereby increasing allergic reactivity in general.
For these reasons asthmatic should make sure to obtain an adequate supply of magnesium.
In fact nutritional doctors use intravenous magnesium during an acute asthma attack to relieve symptoms rapidly and often eliminate the need for hospitalisation.
Vitamin C (500-1000mg 2 to 3 times a day)
Vitamin C can destroy histamine, therefore settling allergic reactions, and reducing asthma symptoms.
Fish oil contains omega 3 and reduces inflammation. Fish oil may help to settle the inflammation in the lung tissue. Also Omega 3 is beneficial for the brain, heart, joints and immune function.
Stomach Acid Production
Some people with asthma have a deficiency in stomach acid production (hypochlorhydria). So improving stomach acid levels may help.