6) how to treat asthma naturally at home?
Vitamin D deficiency is now an epidemic issue. In today’s modern life people tend to spend more time indoors either at work or home. This causes low levels of vitamin D as it is a hormone that the body produces when the skin is exposed to solar UV-B in sunlight. Researchers believe that there is a link between vitamin D deficiency and asthma. Asthma, Atopy and Eczema have been linked to low vitamin D levels in children and adults. Vitamin D supplements significantly reduce the episodes of asthma and allergic diseases in children.
Upto 80% of childhood asthma episodes are triggered after a ‘cold’ or viral upper respiratory tract infection. A study showed that daily supplementation of vitamin D with a dose of 400-500 IU/day in children showed marked decrease in asthma attacks triggered by viral infections. These children also showed greater resistance to infections of the upper respiratory tract and reduced inflammatory responses. Children with lower vitamin D levels showed higher airway sensitivity, high eosinophil counts and also raised IgE levels.
The daily requirement of vitamin D is 400-800 IU/day. We also found in our clinical study that children when supplemented with a daily dose of vitamin D along with regular medication showed reduction in the frequency of cold and asthma attacks.
Foods rich in vitamin D are eggs, cheese, beef liver, fish and foods fortified with vitamin D like dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, cereals etc.
Honey has been proven to reduce night cough in children with asthma. Care should be taken not to give honey to children below 2 years of age.
Honey has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties. It strengthens the immune system and helps to protect against infections, cold and flu and thereby reduces frequency of asthma flare-ups. It contains alcohol and ethereal oil which break up mucus in throat and promote expectoration of cough. It contains traces of iron, phosphorus, calcium, copper, magnesium, gold, etc which strengthen the immune system and helps fight against infections. The darker varieties have more anti-oxidant properties.
Honey can be used with a variety of other natural products like-lemon, milk, turmeric, ginger, cloves, gooseberries, basil leaves, onion juice or cinnamon for benefit in asthmatics. All these boost the immune system and offer health benefit in asthma.
For one kilogram of honey the honey bee has to collect nectar from thousands of flowers and when a person takes that honey he/she gets exposed to those many varieties of pollen grains which in turn trigger anti-body formation and natural immune boosting in the system of that individual. We recommend honey mixed with other immune boosting herbs to our patients for natural immune boosting.
–Foods that help fight Asthma:
Foods don’t cure asthma but certainly avoiding dietary triggers and taking the right kind of diet helps in keeping asthma attacks at bay. A healthy diet can provide the asthmatic with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic nutrients. The immune system has to be supported, protected and boosted with the right kind of foods.
Asthma symptoms are related to foods that cause:
–Allergies-in food and drinks,
–Inflammation of mucus membranes of airways,
— Increased mucus secretion in airways and lungs,
— Constriction of the airways with breathing difficulty,
–Irritation of throat.
So the food that an asthmatic eats should have properties or ingredients which can reduce inflammation, decrease mucus secretion, reverse constriction of the airways and also minimize irritation of throat and coughing.
The diet should be rich in omega-3-fatty acids, magnesium, selenium, potassium, beta-carotene, vitamin b6, b12, C and E and flavonoids.
–Omega-3-fatty acids (epa- and dha) naturally reduce the production of inflammatory compounds like prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are released by the body’s immune system after it comes in contact with an allergen. This in turn causes constriction of airways and production of excess mucus leading to wheezing, tightness of chest, breathlessness and coughing.
Majority of the children eat foods rich in omega-6-fatty acids present in processed foods and margarines which promotes inflammation. Omega-3 rich foods reduce inflammation and therefore help in asthma. A healthy diet should have omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 3:1.
Omega-3 fatty rich foods include fish oils, soya beans(roasted), spinach, walnuts(fresh extracted), canola oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds, olive oil, garlic etc.
It has been observed in our clinical study that children who ate fish (fresh water fishes like –rohu and katla–Indian name) experienced asthma attacks after they ate fish but not after taking cod liver oil capsules.
Magnesium and potassium
–Magnesium helps in asthma by relaxing constriction of airways and reducing inflammation of mucus membranes.
In studies done with oral magnesium supplementation it was found that:
–It decreased skin and airway reactivity to allergens,
–Asthma attacks became less frequent,
–Improved pulmonary function tests,
–Reduced wheezing of lungs.
Asthma is an inflammatory condition and magnesium is the basic anti-inflammatory.
The magnesium rich foods are avocado, dark leafy vegetables, lentils, nuts, whole grains, yogurt, fish, banana, dried fruits and dark chocolate. Here individual reaction to foods may vary as many of our patients reported aggravation of cough and asthma symptoms from eating banana, fish and dried fruits.
Adequate potassium levels are also associated with improved lung function and reduced frequency of asthma attacks. Potassium is found in root vegetables, beans, papaya, kiwi, orange, mango, banana. But, many parents have reported increase in cough and worsening of asthma symptoms after eating banana.
Selenium has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which makes it useful in asthma management. Studies have shown that it does not improve lung functions but it can improve the quality of life of asthmatics. Selenium rich foods are brazil nuts, oysters, tuna, whole wheat bread, sunflower seeds, chicken, mushrooms, whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal.
Carotenoids– Beta-carotene and Lycopene.
Almost 90% of asthmatics and 10% of non-asthmatics suffer from exercise induced asthma (EIA). Taking beta-carotene rich foods reduces EIA. It is a fat soluble anti-oxidant that fights free radicals which cause constriction of the airways and hence prevents inflammation. Beta-carotene rich foods include spinach, carrots, mango, apricots, sweet potato, apples.
Lycopene has high anti-oxidative activity. Studies have shown reduction in severity of asthma attacks after taking lycopene supplementation in food. It is a deep yellow pigment found in fruits and vegetables like tomato, watermelon.
Vitamin C is a water soluble potent antioxidant that boosts the immune system. It is one of the most useful antidotes to food allergies. We have also noted that patients who took adequate vitamin C supplementation showed marked decrease in allergies. Usually doctors prescribe antihistamines to tackle allergy. When a person comes in contact with an allergen (from air or food) the immune system releases histamine from mast cells (immune cells). The histamine attaches to receptors in blood vessels causing redness, inflammation and itching. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine and preventing it from attaching to receptors in blood and thereby preventing inflammation, redness or itching. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine which works by destroying histamine in blood. Therefore in allergic persons a high level of vitamin C is needed to achieve this effect either by food or supplementation.
Studies have suggested that taking high doses of vitamin C helps in exercise induced asthma and in asthma attacks following viral colds. Dietary intake and supplements with low doses are not sufficient.
Some studies also suggest positive effects of vitamin C in E.I.A and pulmonary functions.
The body does not make vitamin C on its own and does not store it either therefore foods rich in vitamin C should be taken fresh as they lose their strength after being exposed to air. The foods rich in vitamin C are-guava, kiwi, orange, strawberries, papaya, broccoli, dark green vegetables, pineapple, grapefruit, mango, peppers, tomatoes, peas.
Deficiency of vitamin C is mainly due to lack of daily dose needed for the body. Different doctors have different opinions but those who take plenty of fresh fruits (citrus included) and vegetables, they do not need any supplements of vitamin C. For those whose diet lacks vitamin C, 50 to 300 mg once or twice may be sufficient.
–Flavonoids are polyphenolic plant secondary metabolites found in vegetables, fruits and beverages. They have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic and immune modulating properties. They include quercitin (from apple and onion), catechins( tea), curcuminoids (turmeric), zingiberols(ginger). All these have surprising effectivity in reducing the severity of asthma attacks. Flavonoids also inhibit histamine release.
Flavonoid rich foods are-red peppers, strawberries, citrus fruits, broccoli, brussels sprouts, mango, papaya, garlic, spinach, green teas.
–Foods that aggravate asthma.
There are different opinions about what foods to give and what to avoid in asthma but our opinion is based on our clinical experience on reports of asthma patients from the last 23 years.
The most common foods that may be associated with allergic symptoms are as follows:
–cow’s milk and curd
–shellfish and seafood
–fresh fruits-except apples, pomegranate, papaya.
–Vegetables-ladyfinger(bhindi), jackfruit(Kathal), ivy gourd(kundru), brinjal.
Reaction to food is totally individual and depends on idiosyncrasies of different people but only a broad overview has been given above based feedback from patients