Rev 5/1/11

A Tale of drug dependency


I had been an asthma sufferer myself for most of my life. I grew up with the typical explanations from the medical community, who as you know, is in the business of disease management, NOT Health Care. Treating the symptom without looking for an underlying cause just plain sucks, but that’s what happens when someone doesn’t care about curing you, providing you with a real answer or the truth instead satisfying quotas set out by large pharma companies and the use of their beach front condos or a new drug launch in an exotic location as their reward. Drug prescription and dependency is what I received. Armed with two inhalers, one with a steroid in it, another if my asthma ‘flared up’ during exercise. I had the typical ‘other’ symptoms of an asthmatic as well:  hay fever, allergies to pollens, pets, and exercise induced asthma.  Never, not once was I ever told that what I was eating could be promoting airway dysfunction and inflammation. Instead, the solution, given in usually 4 minutes or less, was a piece of white paper I was to take to the local pharmacy for a pretty inhaler. Funny, I used to pull out the microscopic piece of paper folded up like origami inside the box and read not only about how the drug worked but its list of ‘potential’ side effects. Sad, right?


So, on to the cheery stuff….


Be it know that you don not have to live with asthma. From all of the research I have done, people I have talked to who know more than me, and experimentation on myself and others, Asthma is a condition (not a disease), that is easily rectifiable thought food choice.

Over the past few years I have gained control over my own asthma by finding out what causes it and how to control it. I gave up bread and grains 3 years ago, dairy 9 years ago, soda 11 years ago, oatmeal 8 years ago, bread 2 years ago, and finally beans/legumes just 1 year ago. I WISH I had been armed with this information all at once, but ah, the nature of humanity to acquire information piece by piece…right?

I still have to use a rescue inhaler, (Albuterol), on rare occasion, but it is always my own fault, and I am cognoscente of that fact. Stress, bread, deli meats, beer, corn, sweets, and dairy will have me running for an inhaler faster than Kansas State Lawmaker from an evolution conference.


Be it known that you do not have to live a life of inhaler dependency if you do a little studying, play by the rules, and avoid foods that are known to put your lungs, its airways, and blood supply in jeopardy.


Much of the information below is extracted from The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, notes from meetings with my Naturopathic Doctor Diane Diehn, Herbal Healing, and many websites I enjoy visiting from time to time.

I will list their info at the end.


Asthma comes from the Greek term meaning ‘breathlessness’


The chain of events in an asthma attack are:


·        An allergen triggers the activation of allergic antibodies

·        Two types:

        - Intrinsic:Non-Allergenic: toxic chemicals, cold air, infection, emotional upset

        -Extrinsic: allergic reactions, airborne

·        Activated antibodies produce a protein called immunoglobulin, (IgE), that bind to mast cells, which are, specialized white blood cells in abundance in lung and nasal tissue. 

·        Binding causes the release of histamine, (extrinsic), or Leukotrienes, (intrinsic)

·        The release of these substances causes inflammation, spasm, and constriction of the small tubular airway muscles: Bronchi, and swelling of mucous lining of the lungs

·        Transfer of air to the blood stream in the microscopic Alveoli sacs at the end of the airway chain becomes difficult due to swelling and the production sticky sputum mucus.


Histamine and Leukotrienes are the Mediators that are responsible for inflammation and bronchial constriction


Leukotrienes are a thousand times more potent than Histamine at closing airway passages

Leukotrienes are fatty signaling molecules. One of their roles is to trigger contractions in the smooth muscles lining the trachea; their overproduction is a major cause of inflammation in asthma and allergic rhinitis. 

Leukotrienes are naturally produced eicosanoids lipid mediators. Leukotrienes use both autocrine signaling and paracrine signaling to regulate the body's response. Leukotrienes are produced in the body from arachidonic acid by the enzyme 5-lipoxygenase. Their production usually accompanies the production of histamine.

Leukotrienes produced within a cell convey signals that act either on the cell producing them (autocrine signaling) or on neighboring cells (paracrine signaling) to regulate the immune response.



Thromboxane is a vasoconstrictor and a potent hypertensive agent, and it facilitates platelet aggregation.



Eicosanoids are signaling molecules, which exert complex control over many bodily systems, mainly in inflammation or immunity, and as messengers in the central nervous system. The networks of controls that depend upon eicosanoids are among the most complex in the human body.



Tartrazine, yellow dyes #5, amongst other food dyes are also a cause


  • Cortisol and Epinephrine released from the Adrenal Glands activate Beta-2 receptors on bronchial muscles which lead to relaxation of Bronchial muscle and opening of airways.
  • Lack of stimulation of beta-2 receptors results in bronchial constriction.
  •  Decreased levels of the adrenal hormone DHEA have been correlated to asthma sufferers
  •  If you are in adrenal fatigue due to years of stress, this could be one source or angles to tackle.


Reduce food and airborne allergens

Most Common Food Allergies: Milk, Chocolate, Wheat (Gluten), Citrus, Food Colorings, sulphites, benzoates, sulphur dioxide.


Decreased gastric secretions can cause leaky gut syndrome allowing large molecules to enter the body, (gut permeability), that would otherwise have been digested. This increases Antigen load on the immune system. More allergens in circulatory system and may predispose further food allergies.


Inappropriate digestion is caused by the ingestion of sugars, starches, grains, legumes, and dairy.


Digestive enzymes and Probiotics such as Acidophilus, those found in coconut milk, can aid in digestion and allow the gut to heal.


Dietary sources of Arachidonic Acid, derived from animal sources, esp those who have been fed and raised on grain have the potential to release/promote prostaglandins and leukotrienes


Read the book: The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by: Michael Pollan


A high percentage of Omega 6 increases Arachidonic acid production/circulation.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids alter the Prosteglandin Metabolism by increasing the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 in the cell membranes, thereby reducing the availability of Arachidonic Acid.


O-3 shifts from Leuko-4, (inflammatory), to Leuko-5 (less inflammatory)


The best source of Omega-3 is Wild Salmon, especially Sockeye from Alaska. Get it here: http://www.great-alaska-seafood.com/


AVOID farm-raised, (mud puddle), fish at all costs. Atlantic Salmon, Tilapia are two prime examples.


Tryptophan is converted to Serotonin, which causes airway constriction.  No turkey or milk

High levels of 5-HIAA in urine indicate serotonin level


B6 supplementation, 200mg daily, corrects and metabolizes Tryptophan


Antioxidants: beta carotene, (decreases Leuk formation), Vitamins A, C, E, zinc, selenium, copper, magnesium increases defense mechanism, reduce free radicals.


Vitamin C esp. important to lungs. It is the major antioxidant present in the lining of airway surfaces and prevents the release of Histamine by white blood cells increasing the detoxification of it.


Flavanoids…esp.  Quercetin, also: grape seed extract, pine bark, green tea, and ginko biloba inhibit histamine release from Mast Cells and the manufacture of Leukotrienes.


Garlic and onions inhibit the substances that promote inflammatory response.


Glutathione Peroxidase depends on Selenium and it breaks down allergic Leukotrienes.

Ephedra, from Mau Huang, and its alkaloids have been proven effective as bronchodilators.


It is just too bad that the weight loss gang got a hold of it, overused it, people died from it, and the FDA pulled it off of the market.

Guarna, and caffeine, seem to have the same effect as Ephedra yet less potent


Licorice root and its active component: Glycyrrhetinic Acid inhibits Prostaglandin and Leukotriene manufacture. I drink tea with licorice in it.

Other Beneficial Botanicals:

  Lobelia, (Indian Tobacco)

Tylophora Indica aka: Asthmatic (leaves used in Ayurvedic/Indian Medicine)

Ginko Biloba – anti inflammatory and anti-allergen

Chamomile –antihistamine

Mullien Leaf

Ginger – Deactivates PAF

Green Tea – contains theophylline which opens bronchial passages                             

  Flaxseed – has Omega-3

  Water – loosens phlegm


Other Good Tips:

  • Practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques
  • Avoid second hand smoke
  • Avoid Sulfites used in dried fruit, salad bars, and wine
  • Stay away from cat dander and people that own cats. Dander travels on cat owners clothes


- Herbal Healing by: Phyllis Balch

- The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by: Michael Murray & Joseph Pizzorno

- Dr. Diane Diehn: Integrative medical Specialists 913.825.6111  http://www.integrativemedicalspecialists.com