Natural Foods for Asthma Prevention Baltimore MD
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7 Ways to Breathe Easy
By Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH
Since 1980, asthma rates have doubled, according to Fred Pescatore, MD, a physician in Dallas. “Asthma has become more prevalent in the past decade than ever before,” he says, “and now afflicts more than 17 million people in the US or 8 percent of the population.” The reasons underlying this dramatic increase remain a medical mystery, however, scientists think that environmental pollutants, immune responses early in life, and viral infections during childhood may all play a role.
In asthma, the airways become swollen and inflamed, resulting in wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. Common asthma triggers include viral illness, cigarette smoke, air pollution, allergens such as dust mites, pollen, mold, or animal dander, and even such things as exercise, stress, cold temperatures, and in about 20 percent of people, aspirin. (Ironically, for others, daily low doses of aspirin can protect against asthma.)
The usual fix, steroids (corticosteroids), “quickly open up the airways in an acute asthma attack,” says Douglas Husbands, DC, CCN, a chiropractor and clinical nutritionist in San Carlos, California. The downside? Repeated steroids use can increase your risk of glaucoma, yeast and fungal overgrowth in the throat, weight gain, water retention, infection, high blood pressure, and imbalances of potassium and calcium, says Husbands. Natural medicine offers a wide range of remedies, like those listed below, that can help keep asthma under control and reduce reliance on conventional asthma medications.
An extract from mushrooms called AHCC (active hexose correlated compound) “can help the immune system do its job better,” says Pescatore. Take 500 to 4,500 [is lower for prevention and higher for attack?] mg per day, depending on the severity of the disease.
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)
This gummy resin from the bark of the boswellia tree, found in India, North Africa, and the Middle East, blocks inflammatory compounds that lead to acute asthma attacks, according to Husbands. Consider taking 300 mg of a standardized extract in capsule form, three times a day. Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)
Since the 17th century, practitioners have lauded this European shrub for its ability to ease asthma symptoms. Modern research shows that butterbur soothes airway spasms; one study found that more than 40 percent of butterbur users could take less asthma medication and still keep symptoms under control. Take 50 to 100 mg in pill form twice a day with meals, but make sure to select a product that contains no pyrrolizidine alkaloids (compounds that can cause liver damage).
Picrorhiza (Picrorhiza kurroa)
Long-used in the ayurvedic tradition, this herb counteracts inflamed and restricted airways, according to animal research. Adults take 400 to 1,500 mg a day of a standardized extract in pill form.
Author: Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH
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