Summary And Quick Facts For Asthma
- Asthma affects people of all ages, but often begins during childhood. In the United States, more than 22 million people have asthma.
- In this protocol, you will learn what causes asthma and how lifestyle and dietary choices can mitigate asthma exacerbations. You will read about several natural compounds that may complement conventional treatment strategies and target asthmatic inflammation from multiple angles.
- Natural interventions such as vitamin D and selenium may help relieve symptoms in people with asthma. Other natural interventions such as curcumin, lycopene, Boswellia serrata, and Tylophora indica may help improve symptoms of asthma.
Vitamin C For The Prevention Of Asthma
From 1982 to 1992, the prevalence of asthma in the United States increased 42%, primarily in persons younger than age 20.1 It is hypothesized that environmental oxidants and dietary antioxidant deficiencies play roles in this trend.2 Deficiencies of foods containing antioxidants in the American diet and an increased awareness of the role of antioxidants in lung defenses have prompted clinical studies of various antioxidants such as vitamin C.
A water-soluble vitamin, vitamin C or ascorbic acid is an essential micronutrient involved in many biochemical functions. Humans lack the last enzyme in its biosynthetic pathway and thus are unable to synthesize ascorbic acid. Therefore, adequate dietary intake is necessary to provide for bodily needs. Foods rich in vitamin C, primarily fruits and vegetables, are listed in Table 1.
|Table 1Food sources of vitamin C|
|Adapted from: Levine M, et al. Criteria and recommendation for vitamin C intake. JAMA 1999 281:1415-1423.|
Environmental Oxidants, Vitamin C, and Asthma
The frequency of asthma and allergy symptomatology is strongly associated with increases in air pollutants such as ozone and nitrogen dioxide. The nitrogen oxides in mainstream cigarette smoke constitute the largest inhaled oxidant challenge in humans.2 In vitro studies show rapid oxidation of vitamin C upon exposure of cigarette smoke to human blood plasma containing the vitamin.3
Epidemiologic Findings from NHANES I, II, III
Clinical Trials in Asthma
Botanicals Herbs And Supplements
ASHMI, a combination of three herbal extracts ), is used in China for antiasthma intervention , and in oriental cultures and Vietnam, the seaweed is used .
Gamma linolenic acid as a dietary fatty acid without any side effects can modulate the endogenous inflammatory mediators .
Ephedra has bronchodilator effects, but it has some side effects such as significantly increasing blood pressure and heart rate, arrhythmias, and problems with blood glucose. This has been removed from the market by the Food and Drug Administration , but some forms are available.
Licorice, stinging nettle, gingko, and anise have not shown efficacy, and side effects of these should be evaluated .
Boswellia serrata extract has anti-inflammatory effects due to the triterpene compounds . The mechanism of anti-inflammatory properties of boswellic acids is inhibition of proteases , lipoxygenases , and NF-kB .
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Dietary Supplements That May Help Your Asthma
From omega-3s to caffeine, weve rounded up the nutrients, herbs, and supplements that may reduce inflammation, a key part of asthma management.
If youre wondering whether certain dietary supplements can help improve asthma symptoms, there are a few things you should know.
For starters, there is very little scientific evidence that they work, says Maureen George, PhD, RN, a medical adviser of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and a certified asthma educator whose research specialties include alternative and complementary medicine.
And even though small studies have shown some clinical benefits of vitamins and minerals on asthma management, says Clifford Bassett, MD, founder and medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York and a clinical assistant professor in the department of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center, the evidence is limited and, in some cases, even contradictory.
At the same time, George adds, certain vitamins, herbs, and minerals appear to be safe and even helpful for some people with asthma. I allow patients to use what theyd like as long as they take it along with their prescribed medications, she says.
Here are eight dietary supplements that may help alleviate asthma symptoms and what research and experts say about making them part of your asthma management plan:
What Does This Mean For People With Asthma
If you have asthma, you may want to speak with your asthma care provider about checking your vitamin D levels. If you are deficient, talk to your provider to see if it might be worth trying a supplement.
Vitamin D is NOT an asthma treatment and NEVER replaces your prescription medicine. It will not make your lungs function better or treat day-to-day asthma symptoms. If you and your doctor decide you should take a vitamin D supplement, you must also take your prescribed asthma medicine. You should not take vitamin D with certain medicines, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Read package inserts to make sure there arent any interactions.
Scientists need to conduct more studies about vitamin Ds effects on children.
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Final Thoughts On Asthma Supplements
Supplements will work best when you keep track. Hopefully youre actively recording your asthma symptoms anytime you try a new home remedy. Do the same thing when you start supplements for asthma. Give each new supplement a 4-6 week trial period and see if your symptoms improve. Everyone is unique, so just because it worked for someone else doesnt mean it will work for you.
And now, like always, please reach out in the comments below. Have you tried any of these supplements for asthma? Any luck? We hope youll share that we can all start to manage our symptoms better.
Cod Liver Oil Use And Multivitamin Supplements At Baseline
Total months of daily use of cod liver oil and multivitamin supplements during the past 12months prior to HUNT2 were sought in questionnaires. We defined daily intake of either cod liver oil or multivitamin supplements for 3months as regular intake. There were 16952 subjects with complete data on use of cod liver oil and multivitamin supplements at baseline, and 6614 with missing information on exposure to either cod liver oil, multivitamin supplements or both. The regular intake of supplements was categorised as 1) use of cod liver oil only, 2) use of multivitamin supplements only and 3) use of both. Nonusers or those with a daily intake of cod liver oil or multivitamin supplements for < 3months served as the reference group.
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May Hurt: Liquid Nitrogen
Some people call it nitro puff, but there are other names. You might notice a stream of smoky coldness that spirals from a fancy cocktail, a new frozen dessert at the mall, or other foods. It may look like fun, but its best to avoid it. It could cause breathing problems, especially if you have asthma, as well as serious injury to skin and even internal organs.
Asthma and Your Diet: Foods That Help and Hurt
- American Lung Association: Asthma and Nutrition: How Food Affects Your Lungs.
- Asthma UK: Food.
Herbal Supplements For Asthma
Asthma: The Complete Guide to Integrative Therapies is a wonderful, thick and meaty resource if you like thick and meaty resources. It covers just about everything there is to know about asthma in a pithy 502 pages.
This book has the usual caveat, which is also ours herbal supplements are unregulated and you shouldnt assume theyre inherently healthy. Do you research and watch out for side effects.
Still, the authors recommend 5 good herbal supplements for asthma that have at least some research speaking to their efficacy. Coleus forksholii can open up the airways, and Ginkgo biloba can reduce the sensitivity of the airways and protect against exercise-induced asthma. Saiboku-to is a Japanese drug which might help reduce dependency on steroids. Lobelia inflata and Ephedra sinica are also listed as potentially helpful.
They also recommend Cannabis sativa, which you might know by its less medical name! This supplement clearly has many side effects, so you didnt hear this recommendation from us!
Holistic doctor, Andrew Weil, seconds using traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic treatments like the above. We havent explored this option yet, but well be sure to share any future experiences here on our blog. WebMD has also reported on kampo, a Chinese herb that in initial studies relieved daily asthma for almost all participants. Worth watching!
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Preventing Asthma Symptoms From Worsening
When it comes to controlling asthma symptoms, prevention can go a long way. Since asthma may be life-threatening, its critical to identify your triggers and avoid them.
Tobacco smoke is an asthma trigger for many people. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. If someone in your household smokes, talk to them about quitting. In the meantime, make sure they smoke outdoors.
You can take more steps that may help prevent asthma attacks if you:
- Create an asthma action plan with your doctor and follow it.
- Get a pneumonia and flu shot each year to avoid illnesses that could trigger asthma attacks.
- Take your asthma medications as prescribed.
- Track your asthma and monitor your breathing to identify early warning signs that your asthma is worsening.
- Use an air conditioner to reduce your exposure to dust mites and outdoor pollutants and allergens such as pollen.
- Use dust covers on your bed and pillows to reduce dust exposure.
- Reduce pet dander by regularly grooming and bathing your pets.
- Cover your nose and mouth when spending time outside in the cold
- Use a humidifier or dehumidifier to keep humidity in your home at optimal levels.
- Clean your house regularly to eliminate mold spores and other indoor allergens.
What Else Affects Asthma Symptoms
Nutrition — good or bad — isnât the only way that asthma might be affected by diet. Here are some examples:
There is no evidence that elimination of all dairy products from the diet improves asthma control, even in a minority of patients. Thatâs simply a myth and can lead to osteoporosis, especially in patients who must regularly take corticosteroids to control their severe asthma.
Before you make any big changes to your eating habits, itâs always a good idea to talk to your health care provider or asthma specialist first. Depending on your asthma diagnosis — and considering your general health and the severity of your asthma symptoms — your health care provider might have specific advice for how to improve your diet.
SOURCES: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: “GERD and Asthma ” “Sulfite Sensitivity ” and “Tips to Remember: Asthma Triggers and Management.” American Medical Association, Essential Guide to Asthma, 2000. News release, American Thoracic Society web site. Freary, J. and Britton, J. Thorax, 2007. McKeever, T.M. and Britton, J. American journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2004. Medscape Medical News: “Mediterranean Diet May Protect Against Childhood Asthma-Like Symptoms and Rhinitis.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: “Food Allergy: An Overview.” National Jewish Medical and Research Center: “Nutrition and Asthma.”
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Recipes With Foods High In Zinc
To be sure that you consume enough zinc to avoid a deficiency and experience these benefits, eat two to three servings of foods with zinc every day. Here are some easy and healthy recipes that will help to boost your zinc intake:
- Steak Fajitas Recipe: These steak fajitas are made with grass-fed beef, plus spices like cumin and paprika, which help fight inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Baked Italian Chicken Recipe: This recipe calls for three zinc foods: organic chicken, mushrooms and spinach.
- Socca Recipe: This paleo pizza is made with chickpea flour, so its a good source of zinc and completely gluten-free. This is a great option for people who follow a vegetarian diet.
- Spinach Artichoke Dip: Use kefir and spinach, two foods that are high in zinc, to make this healthy version of a spinach artichoke dip.
May Help: Fruits And Veggies
There’s no specific asthma diet that can get rid of your breathing troubles. But certain foods may have benefits. Fruits and veggies are a good place to start. They’re full of chemicals called antioxidants like beta carotene and vitamins E and C. These help stop particles called “free radicals” that damage cells and could inflame and irritate your lungs.
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Further Clinical Trials Underway
Importantly, it was also found that vitamin D supplementation was safe for participants at the doses used, and there were no differences in adverse effects between subjects who took vitamin D and those who took a placebo.
Overall, the researchers believe that their findings indicate that vitamin D supplementation may be an effective way to help reduce asthma severity.
âThese results add to the ever growing body of evidence that vitamin D can support immune function as well as bone health.â
Prof. Adrian Martineau
âVitamin D is safe to take and relatively inexpensive,â adds Prof. Martineau, âso supplementation represents a potentially cost-effective strategy to reduce this problem.â
First study author Dr. David Joliffe, also of QMUL, notes that because the majority of study subjects were adults with mild to moderate asthma, they are currently unable to generalize the findings to children or individuals with more severe asthma.
âFurther clinical trials are ongoing internationally,â adds Dr. Joliffe, âand we hope to include data from them in a future analysis to determine whether the promise of todayâs results is confirmed in an even larger and more diverse group of patients.â
Can Supplements Help You Avoid Attacks
Some scientists believe that asthma and vitamin deficiencies are linked. It is thought that certain vitaminsmost specifically vitamin D, vitamin C, and vitamin Eplay a role in not only the development of asthma but also the severity and frequency of asthma attacks.
This article explores the link between asthma and vitamin deficiencies and whether vitamin supplements have any impact on the risk or severity of this common inflammatory airway disease.
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Aafa Explains: Can Vitamin D Help My Asthma
This post is part of our AAFA Explains series looking at complementary and alternative medicine aimed at asthma and allergies. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America wants to guide you as you decide between choices that may be likely safe or potentially unsafe.
In the past few years, researchers have found several possible links to health conditions and vitamin D deficiency. Most Americans have a deficiency. And those with asthma are more likely to be vitamin D deficient.
In a recent study1, researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They compared the vitamin D levels, current asthma diagnoses and lung function of about 11,000 children and more than 24,000 adults. After reviewing the data, researchers found that low levels of vitamin D were related to asthma diagnoses in children and adults. Low levels of vitamin D were also related to reduced lung function.
With all the benefits vitamin D is thought to have, can it help your asthma? Heres what you need to know.
What I Did When Sickness Was Coming On
About 3 months ago I attended a medical lecture on osteoarthritis in the elderly. There was someone there seated near me, who was coughing during the lecture, but frankly I did not think much about it. Some days later, I awoke in the morning with a low grade temperature, sneezing and coughing and felt that I had picked up an upper respiratory infection. I was not tested, nor did I go to the doctors or the hospital to be tested.
I took 10,000 mg of plain vitamin C , 5 times during the day. Yes, I swallowed 50,000 mg of vitamin C during the day from about 6 AM until about 10 PM that night. I awoke the next morning, feeling great, with no symptoms of an infection!
I can tell you many stories about people who take a minimum of 10,000 mg of vitamin C every day on my recommendation, and who all have told me that they are feeling great, and like myself, do not get ill and are not at all worried about their health in this coronavirus pandemic!
Pharmaceutical medicine does not like vitamin C. After all, vitamin C works, is not expensive, and has no side effects. But vitamin C has changed my life, and the life of everyone I know who will take the time to listen and to have an open mind on this subject.
Vitamin Cs Benefits For Athletes
Vitamin C is something a miracle substance. Its an antioxidant that boosts the immune system and fights cell-damaging free radicals and infections.
Scientists and athletes alike have also known for some time about vitamin Cs ability to assist in post-workout recovery. This is due to the relationship between vitamin C and the so called stress hormone cortisol. This hormone gets a lot of negative press, but cortisol does play an essential role in regulating blood pressure and hunger signals, among other things. The problem is that chronically high levels of cortisol can keep your body in a catabolic state, especially after exercise. Catabolism is the process by which the bodys muscle tissues begin to break down. Vitamin C helps lower cortisol levels naturally, allowing for a faster and more complete recovery.
So while athletes have kept vitamin C in their toolkits for years, many people did not realize other potential benefits from this amazing chemical. Recent studies have indicated that vitamin C can be very effective against combating breathing difficulty in people suffering from constricted airways after exercise.
First, lets explain exactly what causes bronchoconstriction so we see how vitamin C helps fix it.
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