Asthma affects up to 10% of the world’s population and is on the increase in the industrialized world due to increasing levels of pollution in air, water and food. It is more common in children under 10 years of age and in people who live in urban environments. Generally speaking, the younger a person is the more likely asthma will be caused by food; the older a person is the more likely the trigger is inhaled allergens.
|Causes||Dietary Factors, Smoking, Allergies, Infections|
|See Also||Respiratory Conditions, Food Reactions, Herbicides and Pesticides, Hypochlorhydria, Environmental Allergies|
|Books||Books on Respiratory Conditions|
|Articles||Articles on Respiratory Conditions|
- 1 Naturopathic Assessment
- 2 Characteristics
- 3 Naturopathic Treatment
- 4 References
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In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing. Asthma can be triggered by a wide number of factors. Individuals, especially children, with asthma typically have a history of food, environmental or chemical sensitivities early in life. Also, those that tend to suffer from asthma would also be classified as having a reactive or sensitive immune system.
- Food is one of the most common causes for the onset and ongoing triggering of asthma symptoms. It plays a role with respect to
- Early weaning of newborns and the introduction of solid food too early are contributing factors.
- Physical activity and excitement may induce asthma symptoms especially when there is a Vitamin D deficiency
- Emotional State
|Article||Do Environmental Toxicants Contribute to Allergy and Asthma? , Alt Med; 2012;Vol17(1)|
|Article||The Effect of Inhalant Allergies and Chemical Sensitivities on Asthma, Vital Link; 2007 Fall|
- Environmental allergens..
- Close windows overnight to prevent pollens from drifting into the house.
- Use air conditioning to cool, dry and clean the air in the home.
- Minimize early morning outdoor activity when pollen levels are highest (0400-1100h).
- Close vehicle windows when travelling.
- avoid outdoor activities on windy, dry days when pollen and dust are blowing around.
- Dry laundry indoors to prevent pollens from adhering to linens and clothing.
- Air pollution, water contaminants, and soil contaminants are also common causes for the onset and ongoing triggering of asthma symptoms.
- Air contaminants..
- Limit or reduce intensity of outdoor activities on days with high ozone levels or other air pollutants, if necessary.
- Prohibit buses, cars and other vehicles from idling on or adjacent to school property.
- Avoid grass cutting during school hours (reduce exhaust emissions and fumes).
- Advocate for Air Quality Monitoring and Improvement programs.
- Encourage anti-idling practices for all vehicles and non-road engines on the school property.
- Carefully consider grill and barbeque use and location when planning events.
- Encourage children to play away from traffic and parking lots.
- Volatile Organic Compounds.
- Substitute safer products as often as possible.
- Store and use potentially toxic school supplies as directed on labels.
- Remove opened containers of paint and other products to a storage area away from students and staff.
- Comply with WHMIS legislation.
- Utilize integrated pest management techniques to reduce the need for pesticides.
- Use the least toxic compounds (labelled low VOC or zero VOC).
- Asthma symptoms can be triggered by infections.
- Wash hands frequently, and before touching nose and mouth.
- Use alcohol-based, waterless cleansers for cleaning your hands when they are not visibly soiled and/or soap and water are not available. (Recommendation: Centre for Disease Control).
- Avoid social gatherings/visits when people are known to be sick.
- Do not share food, drink glasses or eating utensils.
- Cold or dry air
- Warm and humidify cold air before breathing in through the nose. (Use a scarf or hand over the nose and mouth to create a pocket of warm, humid air).
- Limit or adjust intensity of outdoor activity during extreme weather conditions (cold, humid, hot stormy or windy days).
- Use air conditioners, dehumidifiers, fans and other appliances to maintain comfortable indoor environments.
- Move scheduled activities indoors or substitute with another to maintain exercise routines when necessary.
- Schedule daily activities to take advantage of best weather conditions.
- Other Environmental Factors
- smoking is a common cause an aggravating trigger for asthma.
- Chemicals in perfumes and personal care products can trigger asthma.
- Household Products
- Chemicals in household or gardening supplies can trigger asthma.
- Household Factors.
- Note: Dust and dust mites cannot be totally eliminated, however, the number of mites can be reduced by following prevention strategies. Focus initial reduction strategies in the bedroom.
- Minimize objects that accumulate dust.
- Delegate weekly vacuuming, if possible, or wear a mask.
- Wait 20 minutes for dust to resettle before using the room, after vacuuming.
- Dust surfaces frequently with a damp cloth.
- Maintain relative humidity level<50%. (A hygrometer is a useful, inexpensive method for measuring and monitoring indoor humidity levels).
- Use a vacuum with HEPA filter.
- Encase mattresses and pillows in dust-mite resistant covers.
- Pets and Other Animals / Insects.
- Allergens are found in secretions from saliva, feces, urine ans skin of cats (most common), dogs, rabbits, horses, other furry animals and birds. They are commonly found in upholstery, carpets and clothing.
- In most outdoor school settings this will be less of a problem, but should be considered in special circumstances (field trips, veterinary colleges, etc.). Take appropriate measures to avoid or limit exposure as much as possible.
- Remove animal from environment.
- Isolate pet from bedroom and main living areas of the home.
- Limit exposure to pet or pest.
- Wash hands with soap and water after handling the animal.
- Seek expert service and advice to remove any animals and clean up any areas infested by unwanted rodents.
- Remove garbage from kitchens and bathrooms.
- Clean up all food crumbs or spilled liquids immediately.
- Wash dishes, cooking equipment and counters promptly after use.
- Keep counters, sinks, tables and floors clean and clear of debris.
- Seal cracks and openings around or inside cabinets.
- Store garbage in covered containers.
- Employ professional eradication services.
- Occupations with increased risk
- The occupations that are associated with increased risk of asthma or that are linked to a worsening of underlying asthma include:
- The pertussis vaccine can trigger asthma.
- Prescription Medications
- Aspirin can induce asthma in children. can trigger asthma
- Asthma and breathing pattern disorders share some of the same signs and symptoms and as many as 30% of those labeled asthmatic, suffer from hyperventilation. Those who suffer from inflammation and narrowing of the airways typical in asthma can benefit from training the muscles of respiration. Asthmatics typically have thicker smooth muscles in their airways and they tend to breathe 2 to 3 times more than usual at rest. This type of work has been shown to strengthen healthy breathing patterns, reduce shortness of breath upon exertion, and often reduce or eliminate the need for medications.
Related Symptoms and Conditions
It is common for individuals that suffer from asthma to also have the following symptoms or conditions.
- Food reactions including
- Digestive disturbances including:
- increased intestinal permeability and candida
Asthma is characterized as:
- Type 1 hypersensitivity immune reaction which causes inflammation of the upper respiratory airways.
- constriction of the bronchioles, bronchospasms and the production of viscous sputum that can lead to ventilatory insufficiency.
- blockage of beta-2 adrenergic receptors of pulmonary smooth muscles cells
- cyclic nucleotide imbalance in airway smooth muscle
- release of inflammatory mediators from mast cells
The symptoms of asthma may be intermittent (less than two attacks a week) or persistent (greater than two attacks a week or severe enough to disturb activities of daily living) and can be mild, moderate or severe. If mild symptoms are not addressed, they can potentially escalate into serious and sometimes life-threatening asthma episodes. Most common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of tiredness in the chest, especially at night or in the early morning
- Coughing or spitting up of viscous mucous which can cause tightness of neck muscles and difficulty speaking
- Prolonged expiration phase with generalized wheezing and musical rales
- Unusual restless, irritability or fatigue in conjunction with the above symptoms.
If asthma symptoms are untreated they can cause:
- Sleep problems or restlessness
- Impair physical activity and affect learning
Serious Symptoms Asthma attacks can be life-threatening. The following are severe asthma symptoms:
- Breathlessness resulting in difficulty speaking.
- Tightening of the muscles in the neck.
- Grayish or bluish colour in the lips and fingernail beds.
It is important to seek medical care immediately if any of these symptoms are present.
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The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Asthma is generally considered a chronic disease with acute exaberations. Prevention is the primary goal for the management of asthma, hence it is important to determine what triggers any episodes. Naturopathic treatments focus on decreasing symptoms during an episode and on decreasing the severity and frequency of asthma attacks.
It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.
Lifestyle recommendations include:
- The foods most commonly associated with asthma include: dairy, wheat, citrus, chocolate and bananas.
- Diets that have been shown to be helpful include:
- Ensure you drink adequate water.
- Chiropractic manipulation, particularly upper thoracic manipulation and consequent changes in posture has been found to relax the diaphragm, thereby affecting breathing, which can help to ease asthma symptoms.
- Breathing exercises such as the Buteyko method has been found to help reduce medication useage and/or relieve or prevent hyperventilation-induced asthma.
Naturopathic Therapies for asthma include:
- Clinical Nutritional Supplementation includes
- Vitamins including Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E
- Minerals including magnesium taken internally and delivered by Nebulizer in acute attacks., selenium
- Amino Acids such as tryptophan
- Other supplements such as Acidophilus, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Antioxidants like lycopene, Flavonoids, Carotene, Quercetin, Grape Seed Extract, Flax Seed Oil, Methlysulphonylmethane (MSM), N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), Betaine HCL, Coenzyme Q10, Evening Primrose Oil, Glutathione.
- Herbs such as  Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), Cat's Claw (Uncaria rhynchophylla), Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis), Ma Huang ( Ephedra sinica), Mullein (Verbascum thapus), Nettle, (Urtica dioica), Oregano (Origanum vulgare), Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba),Ginseng (Panax ginseng), Asthma weed (Lobelia), Grindelia (Grindelia squarrosa), Turmeric (Curcuma longa), Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis), Incense tree (Boswellia serrata), Green Tea (Camellia sinensis), Garlic (Allium sativum), Tylophora asthmatica, Onion (Allium cepa), Withania or Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). , Corydceps, Tylophora asthmatica (Ayurvedic herb)  Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris).
- Homeopathics are commonly associated with the treatment of asthma.
Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND 
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