Catch Your Breath
By Bonnie Jenkins, Advanced Natural Wellness
Ah, those lazy days of summer! They can be a real treat, unless you have asthma. Higher humidity combined with hotter temperatures can trigger an attack. So can the increased pollution and smog hot weather brings. And if you have asthma, or know someone who does, you know that these summertime conditions can leave you literally breathless.
Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by the constriction and blockage of airways in the lungs. It makes breathing difficult for one in 15 of us—children and adults alike. While some people with asthma experience only occasional shortness of breath, this condition can be serious and should never be ignored since it may cause death. In fact, approximately 5,000 people die from asthma each year. But the good news is that most of these deaths could be prevented with a little help from Mother Nature.
Eat Fruits and Vegetables High in Antioxidants
Studies show that eating foods high in Vitamin C, may soothe inflammation in the lungs of asthmatics who are often deficient in these free-radical-fighting compounds. The reason is simple: Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine that supports the mast cells in the lungs. And if you take enough—1,000 to 2,000 mg.—you may be able to prevent exercise-induced asthma attacks. A small study conducted at Indiana University found that those taking 1,500 mg. of vitamin C (in the form of ascorbic acid) for two weeks had better pulmonary function, both before and after exercising, than those taking a placebo.
Quercetin− A flavanoid in Fruits and Vegetables
Quercetin can help asthmatics because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. In a large study of more than 10,000 people, Finnish researchers found that those who ate more foods rich in quercetin were less likely to suffer from a number of chronic diseases, including asthma. Based on this, some doctors are currently experimenting with 400 to 1,000 mg. of quercetin three times a day.
Lobelia is a Native American antispasmodic herb that eases asthma symptoms. For prevention, use it in tincture form starting with a small dose and gradually increasing it up to a maximum dose of 1 ml. three times per day. Taken on a long-term basis, lobelia may reduce the frequency of spasms. But, lobelia should not be used for more than one month at a time and preferably under the supervision of a qualified herbalist or naturopath since this herb can cause nausea and vomiting.
One of the best for asthmatics is tumeric, a spice found in curry. Widely used to treat asthma in Ayurvedic medicine, tumeric offers all the benefits asthmatic lungs need. It is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immune booster and antimicrobial. One Korean study found that curcumin—the active compound in tumeric—reduces lung inflammation. Recently, British scientists concluded that curcumin could reverse steroid resistance, which is common in people with asthma. For best results, Ayurvedic doctors recommend a daily dose of 2,000 mg. of a tumeric supplement that has been standardized to contain 97 percent curcumin.
In one study, 27 asthma patients showed reduced severity and frequency of asthma attacks when given omega-3 fatty acids. Another study found that supplementing with 3,300 mg. of fish oil a day markedly reduced breathing difficulties in asthma patients. And you don’t have to wait forever to see results. Taking fish oil for as little as three weeks can significantly reduce the severity of asthma, especially if it is triggered by exercise.
As I said, asthma isn’t a condition to be taken lightly. But these supplements, combined with an anti-inflammatory whole-foods diet, can reduce the frequency and severity of your asthma attacks. You just might find that doing the things you love won’t leave you gasping for air.
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Tecklenburg SL, et al. Ascorbic acid supplementation attenuates exercise-induced bronchoconstriction in patients with asthma. Respiratory Medicine2007;101:1770-1778.
Wong KW. Clinical efficacy of n-3 fatty acid supplementation in patients with asthma. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2005;105:98-105.