ASTHMA, More Than a Bad Air Day

Three worrisome trips to the hospital emergency room in one month were enough for Caitlyn's mom to start looking for answers to her daughter's asthma. Caitlyn had been diagnosed with severe asthma two years earlier, when she was just three years old. Inhaled steroid medications were used to keep inflammation, a symptom of asthma, under control and bronchodilating drugs were prescribed for acute attacks. Frightening episodes, where Caitlyn was left gasping for breath, became frequent reminders that asthma is a deadly disease.

Problems with Caitlyn's health began shortly after she was born. Several infant formulas were tried before one was found that Caitlyn could tolerate. Recurring ear infections, colic and the regular use of antibiotics became the norm. Little did mom know that her daughter was developing allergy-induced asthma?

According to the American Lung Association an estimated 16 million Americans are affected by asthma, a chronic lung condition characterized by inflammation of the airways. Among chronic illnesses in children, asthma is the most common, affecting twice as many boys as girls. Approximately 33 percent of asthma patients are under the age of 18. Asthma severity may range form mild to life threatening and year 6000 people in North America die annually from the disease.

Inadequate nutrition, our polluted environment, a predisposition to allergies and a family history of asthma all play a role in developing this chronic lung disorder. Those suffering with asthma have over-reactive airways that respond to "triggers" by becoming inflamed and producing excessive mucus. This inflammation causes a narrowing of the airway, making it extremely difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs. Recurring asthma "attacks" promote an abnormal thickening and hardening of air passages. Our immune system also responds by secreting dangerous immune factors, namely Interleukin-6, that eventually destroy delicate tissues lining our airways. Symptoms include coughing (especially when exercising), wheezing, shortness of breath, a heavy feeling in the chest and waking at night due to breathing difficulties.

What "Triggers" Asthma?
Most asthmatics have an allergy to some offending agent. This allergy then acts as the "trigger" that starts the inflammatory, lung-damaging asthma process. It is easy to diagnose an allergy that presents itself quickly and clearly in the form of a runny nose and itchy eyes as a result of exposure to a particular agent such as cats or peanuts. It is much more difficult to discover an allergy that has vague symptoms or takes hours to display its effects (called delayed-onset allergy). Dark circles under the eyes, red-rimmed or swollen watery eyes, runny nose, constant nose rubbing (some allergic people have a crease just above the bulb of the nose from chronic rubbing, or one nostril will be stretched in the direction of the rub), inflamed tonsils, skin rashes, eczema, diarrhea, gas, bloated stomach, headaches, excessive sweating, dizziness, brain fog, fatigue, bed-wetting in children, joint pain and extreme salivation are a few of the most common allergy signs.

Several studies have looked at airborne allergen exposure during infancy in relation to asthma. It is interesting that children raised in areas of low altitude have significantly higher rates of asthma. Moreover, children born during the high pollen months have a higher incidence of asthma and allergic rhinitis, compared to those born during non-pollen production months. If you have a strong history of allergy or asthma, choosing low pollen months for the birth of your baby may be an important factor in protecting your child from future allergies.

In North America double-glazed windows, central heating and energy efficient homes result in an overabundance of dust mites and molds, which exacerbate allergic asthma. Fresh air is essential and an attempt to have an allergen-free home can help reduce asthma attacks. Find out what you are allergic to and then avoid the substances. Have comprehensive allergy testing done to discover the offending agents. An allergist easily performs tests for IgE (immediate reactive) allergies but IgG (cell-mediated) allergies are not recognized by standard blood tests. I recommend Serammune Physicians Lab at 1-800-553-5472 for the ELISA/ACT (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) allergy test to rule out delayed-onset allergies.

In Caitlyn's case she developed asthma as a result of her initial allergy to milk products. Dairy allergy in children can cause ear infections that are unsuccessfully treated with repeated antibiotic therapy. Three or more courses of antibiotics in the first year of life are associated with a four-fold increase in the risk of asthma. Antibiotics create intestinal problems eventually leading to "leaky gut" syndrome whereby undigested food particles enter the bloodstream through damaged areas of the gut causing allergic reactions. Antibiotics are also associated with causing Candida albicans yeast overgrowth, further exacerbating allergic symptoms. It becomes a vicious cycle of allergy; gut problems, ear infections, antibiotics and candida overgrowth with the cycle repeating over and over again.

Babies born to parents with food allergies should be breast-fed for as long as possible. If a family history of dairy or wheat allergy exists, breast-feeding moms should avoid eating the allergy-causing foods to ensure that their child does not react to the antigens in breast milk. Chronic ear infections in young children are a good indicator of dairy allergy. Eliminate all dairy products and test for other allergies and see if ear infection rates decline.

Exercise-induced Asthma
Some asthma attacks are triggered by exercise. Excessive coughing during exercise is an early warning sign that you may have asthma. Exercise should not be eliminated entirely but milder forms of exercise should be adopted such as walking during pollen-reduced days, breathing through the nose instead of the mouth and taking extra vitamin C before physical activity. Once you have been following the nutrient regimen mentioned below, for a few weeks you may notice that you can exercise more vigorously.

It is unrealistic to think that we can avoid every trigger that promotes asthma attacks. Reducing the severity and frequency of asthma attacks and ultimately repairing the immune system so that we can be exposed to allergens and other triggers without suffering should be our goal. Certain herbs, phytonutrients and vitamins and minerals effectively reduce allergic responses, control inflammation and calm hyperactive airways.

Herbal Tonic to Breathe Easy
Leigh Broadhurst, Ph.D. has used a traditional liquid herbal blend called RespirActin(R) to successfully treat allergies and asthma. It contains rosemary, honey, witch hazel, fenugreek seed, black seed, King Solomon seed, ginseng powder, damiana leaves, marshmallow, sage, juniper berries, chamomile flowers, cloves, cinnamon, spearmint and thyme. These herbs have antioxidant, expectorant, anti-asthmatic, anti-allergenic, anti-histamine and bronchial dilating effects.

The Medical Chronicle in October 2000 reported that Canadian researcher Dr. George Luciuk, a certified allergist and clinical immunologist, completed a double blind, crossover clinical trial of RespirActin in 11 adult asthma patients, confirming Dr. Broadhurst's reports. The study showed that patients with more symptomatic asthma had significant improvement within a few days to two weeks in lung function markers and quality of life assessments. In some patients a significant beneficial bronchodilating effect was seen with their first dose. The benefits appear to be cumulatively beneficial over time. Most importantly, RespirActin has the ability to reverse small airway obstruction which until now was deemed almost irreversible especially with standard metered-dose, inhaler delivered medication. Researchers believe that the oral administration of RespirActin allows better perfusion and delivery to small airways in the lung that have been hard, if not impossible, to reach adequately. Reversing this area of obstruction can make a big difference to how asthmatic patients feel. Many asthmatics have become so used to having reduced lung capacity that when it is restored, they are shocked at how much better they felt. With this research in mind it is also thought that RespirActin may enhance lung function in athletes and racehorses to achieve a competitive edge and it definitely benefits those suffering from exercise-induced asthma.

Researchers in this study believe that RespirActin works by reducing the production of potent chemical mediators called arachidonic acid (AA). Arachidonic acid is released from cell membranes and converted to either prostaglandins or thromboxane by the enzyme cyclooxygenase or into the leukotrienes by 5-lipoxygenase. RespirActin's active botanicals block the components of both of these pathways and as a result:

control mucous gland hyper secretion in the airways, reducing bronchial tube plugging and nasal congestion
reduce bronchial smooth muscle contraction, opening narrow airways and improving breathing
halts inflammation. Researchers stated, "RespirActin has 5-lipoxygenase activity preventing the inflammatory cascade, thereby reducing destruction of airways."
reduces asthma-induced coughing by 34 percent
Nutrients Reduce Attacks
Discuss the following anti-asthma nutrients with your health care provider and if you are on oral or inhaled medications, do not discontinue their use without his/her advice.

RespirActin should be the basis for your asthma treatment program. Take 2 ounces twice per day for four to six days, then reduce to one ounce twice a day. RespirActin is safe for children as young as six months. Infants six months to two years of age take one-and-a-half teaspoons morning and evening. Children age two to 10 take one tablespoon (1/2 ounce) morning and evening.

Vitamin E--A study of 77,000 women found those who consumed the most vitamin E had about half the risk of developing asthma compared to women who consumed the least amount of vitamin E.

Magnesium--Most of us are deficient in this mineral that is required by the body for over 300 enzymatic reactions. Every time we drink caffeinated beverages we lose magnesium. Magnesium helps reduce inflammation and relax bronchial tubes.

Vitamin C--A powerful antihistamine that helps control the release of histamine from mast cells. Those with exercise-induced asthma especially benefit from vitamin C 30 minutes before exercising.

Fish Oil--A powerful anti-inflammatory agent that reduces leukotrienes, biochemicals that promote and prolong inflammation.

Quercetin--A bioflavonoid found abundantly in onions has potent anti-allergy and antihistamine activity.

Multivitamin with minerals--Unless you are eating seven to 10 half-cup servings of organic fruits and vegetables every day you need a good multivitamin with minerals daily.

Caitlyn was fortunate because her mother learned about RespirActin and the other nutrients mentioned above. After only two weeks on these nutrients Caitlyn's pediatrician was able to reduce her steroid medications and she has not required her bronchodilating medication either. Both mom and child are breathing easier now.

Link between Pollution and Asthma
Air pollution has long been regarded as the reason for doubling asthma cases in the last 30 years yet evidence has been inconclusive until now. Dutch researchers have discovered a direct link between air pollution and children's asthma. Research at Groningen University and published in the Lancet found that as carbon particles and concentrations of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide from car exhaust increased, so did the asthma the children experienced. From 1992 to 1995, during three winter months, 459 children with bronchial hyper responsiveness and allergy, aged seven to 11, were asked to record their asthmatic symptoms and lung capacity by peak expiratory flow measurements three times per day. Atmospheric concentrations of black smoke, sulfur and nitrogen dioxide were continually measured. Results showed that for children with both bronchial hyper-responsiveness and allergy, attacks of wheezing and shortness of breath were more frequent and severe with the increase in air pollution. (Lancet 1999, Volume 353.)

References:

Aqel, M. B. "Relaxant Effect of the Volatile Oil of Rosmarinus Officinalis on Tracheal Smooth Muscle," Journal of Ethnopharmacology (1991). Vol. 33 pp. 57-62.

Broughton, K. S. et al. "Reduced Asthma Symptoms With n-3 Fatty Acid Ingestion Are Related to 5-series Leukotriene Production," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1997). Vol. 65 pp. 1011-7

Cohen, H. A. et al. "Blocking Effect of Vitamin C in Exercise-Induced Asthma." Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine. (1997). Vol. 151 pp. 367-70.

Isolauri, E. et al. "Breast feeding of Allergic Infants," Pediatrics (1999). Vol. 134 pp. 27-32.

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By Lorna Vanderhaeghe

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