It is important to differentiate between reversible and irreversible forms of respiratory problems - between reactive airways disease and asthma.
If you have bronchial spasm and constriction only upon exposure to an allergen (such as to pollen or foods) then you have reactive airways disease (RAD). If treated early enough with appropriate alternative therapies it can frequently be cured. However, chronic episodes of reactive airways disease puts a high pressure load on your lungs leading to damage to the tissue. This damage leads to asthma - a chronic, degenerative and generally irreversible condition. The secretions and bronchial obstructions are not longer solely triggered by allergens - but also to exercise, strong emotions and other events.
Managing asthma requires a along term strategy - often also incorporating medical drugs. In this article we combine our discussion of reactive airways disease (RAD) and asthma. It is important, however, that if you are on medication for asthma that you do not cease that medication and that you discuss any of the approaches mentioned here with your health professional.
More than 15 million Americans have asthma - a 33% increase from 1990 and a 66% increase from 1980. In 1997 more than 5,400 people died from severe asthma attack - more than double the asthma death rate in 1980. 5 million children under the age of 18 suffer from asthma - this makes it the leading cause of hospitalization and school absenteeism in children.
The main symptoms of asthma or are:
tightness in the chest.
During an asthma attack the bronchial tubes become partially obstructed making breathing difficult. During asthma histamines and other chemicals are released and these trigger the bronchial tubes to become inflamed and flooded with mucus. The bronchioles smooth muscles contract - narrowing and obstructing the airways.
Attacks may be triggered by:
allergens, such as pollen, dust and other pollution including cigarette smoke, fur or dandruff, latex, cleaning chemicals, newsprint, fabric dyes, sprays and polishes, personal hygiene products.
food allergies or intolerances, such as aspirin, food additives (especially sulfites), yeast or molds on foods. Common food triggers include: cow's milk, eggs, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, seeds, soy, wheat, corn and citrus fruit.
deficiencies, such as selenium, and vitamin B6.
temperature changes - especially sudden exposure to cold air.
stress and anxiety.
What you can do to treat asthma
The first place to start is removing any know source of allergen - so that your body is not forced to keep reacting to its triggers. Then the diet and nutritional status need attention and this is then followed by specific herbal treatment to cleanse the lungs and clearing mucus secretions. You want to aim at keeping the immune system healthy, supporting and healing damage to the lungs.
Try to remove the source of the allergen if this is possible. Keep dust and pollen levels under control and avoid possible ingested allergens.
Don't smoke and avoid air pollutants.
Eat a healthy diet that contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Onions are believed to have anti-asthmatic properties and it is suggested that you have at least one cooked onion each day. It is best to avoid sugar and to eat a diet low in animal fats. Follow a healthy diet - this will also assist the immune system.
Use a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. Additional vitamin C (specifically calcium ascorbate) may be taken for its antihistamine qualities. Magnesium is thought to dilate the bronchial tubes, preventing a spasm and it also works to encourage a normal response to allergens. Vitamin B6 has been shown to reduce the number of asthma attacks in a group of patients. Vitamins A (as beta-carotene) C and E as well as selenium should encourage recovery and help prevent attacks.
Engage in exercise. Exercise precipitates asthma in some individuals, but regular physical exercise may actually reduce asthma tendencies. Swimming classes for children seem to be particularly worthwhile, especially in a warm, indoor pool.
Herbal remedies for asthma
Asthma will respond well to herbal remedies but it is impossible to give a herbal remedy that is appropriate to all cases. The various factors involved must be identified and remedies are chosen accordingly.
Herbs that can reduce the spasm and ease breathing include:
pill bearing spurge,
If there is sputum to be removed then expectorant herbs such as the following are useful.
If the attacks sap the strength of the heart then the herb motherwort will be beneficial.
If any hypertension (high blood pressure) is involved then hawthorn and lime (linden) blossom will be useful.
If anxiety and tension are involved then also use hops, skullcap or valerian.
NOTE: If you have asthma never discontinue your pharmaceutical drug treatment unless you are under the supervision of a health professional.
Managing asthma requires a along term strategy - often also incorporating medical drugs. However, there are many things that you can do to help in managing asthma and improving the health of the lungs. This will include removal of asthma triggers, improving the diet, taking nutritional supplements, using appropriate herbal remedies, exercise and generally cleansing the body. These factors will improve overall health as well as the health of the immune system and the lungs.
Reference: Dr Jenny Tylee is an experienced health professional who is passionate about health and wellbeing. She believes that health is not just absence of disease and seeks to actively promote vitality and wellness through empowering others. She encourages people to improve their health by quit smoking, cleansing their body, taking essential vitamin and mineral supplements and many other methods, including herbal remedies. Visit Dr Jenny's blog and join her newsletter for more quality information at www.healthproductssite.com