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
- Intrinsic:Non-Allergenic: toxic chemicals, cold air, infection, emotional upset
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
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
- 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
- Lack of stimulation of beta-2 receptors results in
- 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,
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
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
The best source of Omega-3 is Wild
Salmon, especially Sockeye from Alaska. Get it
AVOID farm-raised, (mud puddle), fish at all costs. Atlantic Salmon, Tilapia
are two prime examples.
Tryptophan is converted to Serotonin, which causes airway
turkey or milk
High levels of 5-HIAA in urine indicate serotonin level
B6 supplementation, 200mg daily, corrects and metabolizes
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.
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
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:
Tylophora Indica aka:
Asthmatic (leaves used in Ayurvedic/Indian Medicine)
Ginko Biloba – anti
inflammatory and anti-allergen
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 Sulfites used in dried fruit, salad bars, and
- 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 &
- Dr. Diane Diehn: Integrative medical Specialists 913.825.6111 http://www.integrativemedicalspecialists.com