Imagine what it would be like to breathe with a 300-pound gorilla sitting on your chest. That will give you an idea of the panic and helplessness an asthmatic experiences during an attack. If you have asthma yourself, you know just what we mean.
Fortunately, asthma isn’t always that bad. Some days you just wheeze – your airways whistle and rattle as you breathe ever so cautiously. You cough – not a healthy, productive cough but a dry, nagging cough. Exercise seems to be entirely out of the question.
If you could peer inside your chest, you would discover what’s behind the struggle for air. The muscular fibers around the bronchial tubes, or airways, tighten up or twitch at the least provocation – cold air, air pollution, overexertion, perhaps. Or they act up after an encounter with something to which you’re allergic – pollen, dust, mold spores, pet dander, food or a drug.
At the same time, the lining of the lungs react by becoming swollen and inflamed. And the lungs produce a sticky mucus that no amount of coughing will force out. All that swelling and tightening blocks the free flow of air.
In children, particularly, I find that taking care of the environment – dust control, mold control, pet control – may be more than 50 percent of the secret of allergy relief,” says C. Falliers, M.D., an allergist in Denver, Co. “And I’ve seen many people who have just stayed away from food dyes and preservatives, and all their symptoms suddenly disappeared.” For those with more short term respiratory diseases like bronchitis or pneumonia the lesson on treating the common cold may give you more constructive ideas as well.
Clean Up Your Air
Air filters are a basic defense against asthma and other forms of respiratory disease. Doctors we spoke to told us that the best models are the High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which have been known to relieve asthma symptoms within 10 to 30 minutes.
Still, you can’t always live in a well-filtered bubble. Some airborne asthma triggers are bound to slip through, to gum up your lungs with mucus and strangle your airways. To unstick your breathing equipment, drink plenty of fluids. Water and other unsweetened beverages act as natural expectorants, keeping mucus thin and coughable. One-half to one cup of liquid every waking hour, if at all possible.
Just be sure you don’t drink cold beverages – the chill can shock sensitive airways into spasms. And be careful to avoid drinks that contain cola or food dyes, common asthma triggers. To take your beverages hot helps even more. A warm drink acts as a natural bronchodilator, or airway relaxer, as it glides past respiratory passages. Drinking soup or herb tea when you feel an attack coming on will do fine.
“We’ve had kids in the hospital for treatment, and when they can’t breathe, we try to get them to drink something warm, maybe just water or something with a little more flavour, like hot apple cider. They relax, control the panic and start breathing quietly again.”
Extensive studies show that there are two basic causes of asthma: one, the typical allergic reaction to one or more allergens: two, psychic factors. Doctors agree that many young asthmatics (according to studies, about 25%) have in common a “deep-seated emotional insecurity and an intense need for parental love and protection”. When emotional causes are suspected, these must be dealt with before biological and nutritional treatments can be effective.
There is a clear relationship between asthma and low blood sugar. Asthmatics have a consistently low blood sugar. (Note: diabetics, who have high blood sugar, hardly ever have asthma!) It is advisable, therefore, that asthma patients follow a special dietary program described in the Hypoglycemia lesson.
A vegetarian diet is best for asthma. Avoid all meat and fish. Avoid cow’s milk. Goat’s milk is well tolerated, mostly in soured form as yogurt or kefir. Lots of garlic, green vegetables and all available fruits; natural unfiltered honey; raw seeds and nuts; sprouted seeds and grains. (Refer to the Optimum Vegetarian Diet described in earlier lessons.)
Diet should include manganese-rich foods, such as peas, beans, blueberries, nuts, buckwheat. Chronic manganese deficiency may be one of the contributing causes of asthma. Avoid sugar, ice cream, and all refined and processed foods.
Exercise can also help. Interestingly, school teachers who have asthmatic children in their classes are often confused about exercise. One child has a doctor who say, “This child has asthma, so he can’t take gym.” Another child’s doctor says, “This child has asthma and should be encouraged to exercise.” Who’s right? “They’re both right”, says Dr. Falliers. “Until the asthma has been treated, a child should be excused from exercise. But as treatment progresses, the child should be encouraged to develop and improve his fitness.” Improving overall fitness can help keep asthma under control, just as keeping the weight down is also beneficial for asthmatics.
The type of exercise you choose will make quite a difference in how well you tolerate exercise. Activities that involve brief spurts of action, separated by rests, are much less apt to trigger asthma than sports that call for continuous exertion. An asthmatic who goes in for baseball or golf, for example, is not as likely to start wheezing and coughing as one who plays basketball or runs the mile. Swimming, too, is ideal for asthmatics, provided that rest is taken at proper intervals.
1. Cleansing juice fast, one to two weeks, under doctor’s supervision. (Refer to Lesson #11)
2. Alternating hot and cold showers each morning and evening.
3. Dry brush massage twice a day.
4. Chest pack according to Father Kneipp: wet pack over upper chest. (Place a hot, wet towel over the chest and cover with a dry towel, then with a blanket. Leave on for 1/2 hour- or, until cool to the touch.)
5. Plenty of exercise in fresh (non-smoggy) air. Deep breathing exercises several times a day.
6. Herbal vapor bath, for acute asthmatic attacks (see Notes).
Vitamins & Supplements (Daily)
Manganese – 5 mg. taken twice a week for 10 weeks (Some biological doctors in Europe have treated asthma with manganese with excellent results)
E – 600 IU or more, C – 3,000 to 5,000 mg.
Pollen – 5 tablets or 2 tsp. crude pollen
A – up to 50,000 units
Dolomite – 2 to 3 grams (from uncontaminated sources)
D – up to 10,000 units (after a few weeks, reduce to 2,000 units)
Garlic capsules – 3 with each meal
Alfalfa and comfrey tablets
Pantothenic acid – 100 mg.
B-6 – 50 mg. (B-6 is a natural antihistamine)
Kelp, Betaine hydrochloride – 1 tablet after each meal, Honey
The best juices for asthma are: lime, comfrey, horseradish and garlic. Garlic and horseradish juices can be taken in small amounts mixed with the juices of carrots and red beets. Lime (or lemon) juice is best taken diluted with water first thing in the morning. Asthma patients should also take lime juice plain, 1 tsp. 2-3 times during the day, between meals.
Comfrey (as tea, or comfrey leaves can be chewed fresh), mullein, sweet marjoram, lobelia, valerian root, ginseng, camomile, myrrh, coltsfoot, golden seal, hyssop, anise, wild plum, elecampane, horehound, lungwort, and pleurisy root. Any combination of these herbs may be brewed into a tea and taken several times a day, especially at bedtime.
Garlic, comfrey, manganese, vitamins C, B-6 and E, pollen, honey. Juice fast, vegetarian diet. Clean up your air as much as possible. Exercise in the open air with a face mask, if necessary.
1. Although pollen is considered one of the commonest allergens of asthmatics, bee pollen taken orally has been shown to be an excellent remedy for asthma and other respiratory immune responses. Start with small doses and gradually increase to as much as possible, even several teaspoonfuls a day. Pollen is also available in tablet form.
2. The Herbal Vapor Bath is taken as follows: Boil a quart of water in a pot. Put 1 ounce of each of the following herbs in the boiling water: ragwort, cudweed, wormwood. Bend over the pot, cover the head with a towel and inhale the steam for 1/2 hour, 2-3 times daily.
3. Beware of Aspirin and Additives. Too few parents of asthmatic children realize that a simple aspirin tablet can provoke a serious attack in many asthmatic children. If you have noticed problems following aspirin ingestion, consider yourself warned. Occasionally, the reaction can be very severe.
The artificial food coloring agent tartrazine, or Yellow #5, has also been reported to trigger asthma attacks in susceptible youngsters. Avoiding this additive isn’t easy, because it is used in a great many artificially colored foods, some of which may not even appear to be yellow. Fortunately, foods containing the dye are required in the United States to list it as an ingredient on the label – so read labels.
In light of the clinical and theoretical work of allergist Ben F. Feingold, M.D. who has been able to control both hyperactivity and allergic reactions such as itching, hives, and skin rashes by eliminating all artificially dyed and flavoured foods from the diet, we can say that a purely natural diet will help asthmatic children.
4. The relaxation technique learned in lesson seven, should be of help in relaxing away an asthma attack. Also, deep breathing exercise should be conducted in this manner: (By learning to breathe correctly, asthmatics can ward off wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. This exercise can be practiced lying down, standing or sitting, and should be done daily. a) Think of your chest and stomach as a container for air. Breathe in through your nose, slowly filling the bottom of the container first. Continue until the stomach feels inflated, like a balloon. If you place your hand on the spot just above your navel, you can feel your middle rise and fall with each breath. b) Exhale slowly through your mouth. The “container” should feel completely empty and your stomach should feel flat before you inhale again. c) Repeat. Inhale and exhale 12 times.
5. A light, cotton face mask may help to protect against cold, dry air – or pollen and air pollution. After exercise, or in air-conditioned or even refrigerated rooms, asthmatics with face masks fared better than those without masks – probably due to the rewarming of air inside the mask. Wearing a scarf pulled up over your mouth before going outdoors in winter achieves the same effect.