More and more people around the world are suffering from asthma, which is perplexing, because modern health care is improving all the time. It is generally accepted there is no cure for asthma, and the main treatment is to manage symptoms with ongoing medications. However, many people do minimise symptoms and fully recover from asthma, once the underlying causes are found.
Some interesting causes of asthma are being revealed – it has been dubbed as a ’disease of affluence’. The more developed the country, (and processed food eaten) the more people are likely to suffer from asthma.
A study which assessed over 200,000 children from 31 countries, published in the medical journal The Lancet* suggests that using paracetamol in the first year of life is linked to an increased risk of asthma and allergies. Giving paracetamol to treat fever in children in the first year of life, led to a 46% greater risk of having asthma symptoms by age six to seven. The study also found that six to seven year-olds who had taken paracetamol once a month in the previous 12 months had a three-fold increase risk of asthma. Paracetamol reduces antioxidant defences, which can lead to inflammation in the lungs.
Paracetamol is widely used, and not always for fever or pain. Medical recommendations are that paracetamol should be used only to treat fevers above 38.5°C. Fevers below 38.5°C are safe to treat with with fluids and keeping cool. The purpose of a fever is to kill the bugs that are causing it, so there is an argument for allowing the fever to run its natural course. Based on the research, avoiding paracetamol in the first year of life is preferable, particularly if there is a family history of allergies.
Identifying food allergies and sensitivities helps to avoid asthma triggers. The most common problem foods asthmatics are sensitive to are egg, dairy, nuts, fish and grains. In clinic, I have seen eliminating a food milk bring a huge and rapid improvement to asthma sufferers, children and adults alike.
Some asthma sufferers are sensitive to food additives, so eating foods that have no pesticides or preservatives can help prevent asthma attacks. Organic food is available in supermarkets. Buying it removes the need for meticulous and time-consuming label reading. Organic food is becoming more easily available and affordable – the extra cost to the grocery bill is easily offset by less doctor visits and fewer medications.
- Food Additives
Avoiding preservatives, colourings and additives like monosodium glutamate can help to reduce asthma triggers. Eating organic food means to you don’t have to read labels as much.
Asthma needs to be accurately diagnosed after having a lung function, or spirometry test, before and after receiving Ventolin. If Ventolin improves the lung function, an asthma diagnosis is likely.
The old saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ may have some truth in it. Diet plays a huge role in the prevention and management of asthma. The more fruit and vegetables people consume, less likely asthma develops. Keeping the diet free of processed food (chips, crisps, ice cream, takeaway, soft drinks) and adding 100% whole grain breads and cereals, fresh fish, fresh fruit and vegetables can be therapeutic. Research shows that eating more apples improves the health of your lungs. Other beneficial strategies to minimise asthma attacks are taking anti-inflammatory fish oils and drinking plenty of water, to keep lung tissue well hydrated. The mineral zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium, can help to modify allergic tendencies.
When one considers the side effects of long-term cortisone based preventers, which can affect bone growth in children, an alternative is well worth looking into.
When a clear cause of asthma is identified, effective treatment is possible, minimising the need for medication.
Lifestyle factors are to keep active, have plenty of fresh fish, fruit, vegetables and drink plenty of water.
A range of therapies help asthma. Usually two or more of these strategies are needed to become medication free.
- Buteyko Breathing Method. Read the story of a woman with lifelong asthma who has become medication free using Buteyko in Good News for People with Bad News.
- Diet and supplementation programme
- Food elimination and rotation diet
- Herbal medicine
Find a practitioner in one of these disciplines or an integrative doctor.
* Association between paracetamol use in infancy and childhood, and risk of asthma, rhino-conjunctivitis, and eczema in children aged 6–7 years: analysis from Phase Three of the ISAAC programme The Lancet, Volume 372, Issue 9643, 20 September 2008-26 September 2008, Pages 1039-1048,