Asthma is now said to affect nearly 25 million people in the U.S. alone (that's one in eight individuals), 300 million worldwide. It continues to increase annually. An estimated $48.6 billion are spent in medical bills, $6 billion in prescription drugs, and who knows how much in alternative treatments - practitioner-based or supplement-based. It has increased by 48 percent in the past 10 years, according to the American Lung Association August 2012 statistics.
There are many causes of asthma, and many more triggers. It is important to differentiate between the two terms related to asthma. "Causes" refers to the underlying mechanism, or mechanisms that set the stage for someone to have asthma, whereas, "triggers" refers to the event or exposure that can set off an asthma attack.
Generally, there is more than one factor responsible for causing asthma. It can be anything from poor dietary intake over a period of time (in utero, after birth, or throughout a lifetime), genetic propensity, weak respiratory system (including lungs and mucous membranes), weak adrenal response, and immune compromise/over-reactivity. All of the previous necessitates further exploration to determine why these are occurring. Certain medications, environmental exposures (cigarette smoking, other chronic inhalants), weather, being overweight, tendency towards anxiety, lack of micro-exposures (exposures to dirt and bacteria in micro-amounts to stimulate healthy immune response), and lack of exercise have also been pointed to as contributing factors.
The triggers are well known: allergens, molds, cold weather (and sometimes oppressive heat), tobacco smoke, pollution (indoors or outdoors), droppings from cockroaches, mites or other pests, pets (especially the furry kind), smoke from any source, infections (especially upper respiratory infections), acid reflux, physical exercise, certain medications, exceptionally dry air, poor air circulation/ventilation, food additives (especially preservatives, artificial sweeteners and food colorants), certain foods (especially pasteurized dairy products, wheat, gluten, corn and soy), and strong emotions (good or bad ones).
There are also many ways to control asthma naturally. For all the following solutions, there are more in depth instructions available: Practicing slow deep breathing, controlling emotional responses, learning to relax, and finding exercise routines that strengthen and build lung capacity and overall body tone, are all examples of physical ways of controlling asthma.
Nutritionally, getting good, nutrient-rich, whole foods, without additives, preservatives, chemical sprays, etc. is a good start. There are many herbs that work, but need professional guidance. On the supplement end, omega-3 fatty acids are important, as well as a good mineral supplement made from whole foods. Dietary helps include increased protein intake, eliminating bad fats and including more good fats, using spices such as ginger and turmeric, consuming organic foods, and eliminating the bad food offenders listed above.
Acupuncture and certain other body therapies are also beneficial in relieving asthma. My first experience with acupuncture was in treating someone in an acute asthma attack. Having worked in the Emergency Room as a nurse prior to that, I was stunned at how fast it worked. It has been used for thousands of years in treating asthma, and continues as such because of its effectiveness.
Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with over 34 years of experience. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d'Alene clinic. Visit Dr. Carling's website at www.vitalhealthandfitness.com to learn more about Dr. Carling, view a list of upcoming health classes and read other informative articles. Dr. Carling can be reached at (208) 765-1994 and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.