3.8 Million Canadians suffer from diagnosed Asthma.
When I wrote an article back in 2006, that number was 2.5 million with an overall rate of 10.8% of the population. This reflects an overall increase incidence by 67% between 2000-01 to 2011/12. Approximately 600,000 or 67% of these are children. Compared to the Global incidence of 339 million people and 1000 deaths per day, Canadians are at much lower risk. However the Canadian economic impact is estimated at 2.1 billion annually with asthma being the third most common reason for work loss due to absenteeism. See www.globalasthmareport.org for an excellent 2018 WHO report. Naturopathic physicians have a lot to offer this population – especially children. Here are some recommendations using Promedics remedies and some of my favourites over the years. I have mentioned great articles on the www.mediherb.ca website. You need to create another log in for their website in order to access the e-monitor as well as all Phytotherapist’s Perspectives. This is a wonderful resource for the Mediherb products and the wisdom of Kerry Bone.
Asthma is a chronic disturbance of the immune system with asthma attacks being the tip of the iceberg. Treatment of the airway only is superficial and will not change the chronicity of the disease. Looking at underlying causes and providing a multi-factorial model of individualized care for each patient will provide the best outcomes. Asthma can be classified as extrinsic or allergic asthma with positive skin tests for allergens and intrinsic asthma with negative skin tests and chronic infection and other causation factors.
Preconception care is really the best way to prevent asthma in children. (Pre and Post Natal Care patient handout). The nutrients that specifically prevent asthma include probiotics, antioxidants, vitamin D and essential fats (J Fam Pract. 2018 Feb; 67(2): 100–102.) The “Hygiene Hypothesis” holds that children growing up in cities and particularly in a sanitized environment experience an absence of exposure to pathological micro-organism which results in poor and imbalanced development of the immune system. The excessive use of antibiotics need to be also considered. Asthma incidence is higher in industrialized countries and lower in rural areas. Another thing lacking in the modern environment is exposure to common childhood infections such as measles which has been suggested to be protective against asthma. Environmental tobacco smoke, air pollution, and use of antibiotics and acetaminophen early in life all contribute to increased risk of asthma in children. Breast feeding and a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables lowers risk. Over the years using “Optinatals” from Eclectic has produced good birth weight healthy babies in my practice.
Environmental and Foods – Extrinsic Asthma: These can include food allergens or sensitivities, environmental allergens, genetics, exposure to moulds, dust mites (found in non- feather pillows, flour), atopy, air quality in the home. Identifying causations is important in any treatment program. Good quality essential oils in the home in diffusers can provide some relief. These can include: peppermint, frankincense, lavender, thieves, lemon, and eucalyptus. Sinus Forte for intrinsic asthma. Extrinsic asthma treatment includes Baical Skullcap. The flavonoids are anti-allergic, anti-asthmatic, anti-oxidant and also inhibits histamine.
Sinusitus – Intrinsic asthma: Has been associated with asthma in several studies. Sinus Forte is a very effective remedy at 3-4 per day for adults (smaller dosages in children) along with saline nasal lavages are recommended. I use this acutely but also lower dosage for those with chronic sinusitis. One of my favorite Sanum remedies over time has been Pleo not and pleo quent that can be taken orally as well as inhaled and put into ears ideal for children and very effective in adults too. (These are only available from UK dispensaries at the moment but these have been my desert island remedies for years!)(Ed: recently a stubborn case of chronic allergic rhinitis has cleared with low dose naltrexone but if she stops it the sinusitis returns).
Bronchial Constriction: Ginkgo has bronchodilation effects, and also anti-PAF activity preventing anaphylactic symptoms. It is good for atopy, and inhalant allergies as well as exercised induced asthma and treatment of COPD. Ginkgo is effective in both children with atopy improving flow parameters and in adults some were able to stop corticosteroid therapy. Curcumin is anti-inflammatory through Cox2 and arachidonic pathways amongst others and is effective in acute and chronic inflammation with similar efficacy to cortisone. It inhibits allergen induced airway constriction and hyperactivity. Boswellia improves shortness of breath, number of attacks and respiratory capacity as well as lowering inflammation. Works best in ASA and exercise induced asthma. (Boswellia Complex or BCQ). Tincture to consider for asthma is equal parts Licorice (moistens the lungs and stops coughing), Baical Skullcap, Echinacea and Withania (for stress).
My Pincott Asthma formula includes: Symphlocarpus, Lobelia, Khella, Basal Skullcap, Albizia, Echinacea Premium.
Kerry Bone’s favorite Breathe Easy Formula for children: Echinacea 30ml, eyebright 20ml gindelia 15ml ginkgo 20ml and baical skullcap 20ml.
Poor Digestion: Dr. Jonathon Wright has repeatedly reminded us over the years that hypochlorhydria is associated with an increase incidence of asthma in adults primarily. This is linked to deficient vagal output so bitter herbs are indicated ie Digest Forte (one tab OD before meals.) GERD contributes to intrinsic asthma in 61% of cases. Acid suppression with PPI’s improve asthma symptoms in 73% of asthmatics with GERD. Sweet Fennel essential oil not only has dyspeptic qualities it also lessens catarrh of the upper respiratory tract and is bronchodilatory. Any treatment of GERD requires food combining and probiotics – Ther-Biotic Complete. My favorite GERD remedy over the years has been M6 from Naturpharm. If there is an underlying dysbiosis, implement a candida program for three months (See my blog on digestive health) including the use of Citricidal CapsPLUS. In children ages 8 or older I use Citricidal Tabs (these are also anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral).
Breastfeeding and Diet: Absence of or breast feeding for less than 3 months increase the risk of developing asthma. A diet high in oily fish may protect against asthma in childhood. A diet high in dairy may contribute to mucous production even though there is no frank allergic reaction but avoidance provides considerable relief. Other foods that can contribute include salt (dehydrates mucous membranes), refined carbohydrates and excessive protein. Eating onions during an asthma attack may be helpful as they have an anti-PAF effect. Essential fatty acids are crucial! I have had several cases of asthma cured just from taking fish oils. Ultimate Omegas (3000mg per day for adults) and Arctic CLO or DHA Jr for children (2000-3000mg per day). Find one they like and keep them on it for life!
Infection and infestation: Most hospital admissions due to asthma occur over the winter soon after the start of school terms due to viral infections. Children in the first year of life hospitalized with RSV bronchiolitis develop asthma within five years. Aspirin sensitive asthma results from a chronic viral infection. Bacterial infections have been linked to adult onset asthma specifically exposure to Chlamydia pneumonia. Any remedies that improve the immune system overall are considered: Andrographis complex (has Holy Basil good for recurrent infections improving T-helper cells and NK cells. Used for catarrh, bronchitis and breathlessness), Echinacea premium and St. John’s Wort (anti-viral). Also Cordyceps has a long history of use for asthma, chronic bronchitis, and other chronic respiratory diseases (COPD) and can be used long term. Astragalus Complex and Goldenseal.
Stress and Hormones: insufficiency of various adrenal and extra-adrenal mechanisms has been associated with asthma. Stress and anxiety contributes to muscular tension in the diaphragm and disturb rhythmic breathing. It is imperative to treat any asthmatic case with adrenal support no matter the age. For children I used Ribies Nigrum bud therapy from Seroyal or Reckeweg and also homeopathic combination remedy R76, Unda 5 and 15, and or Rubimeds from Biomed. For adults I recommend Withania Complex or Rhodiola & Ginseng and Ginkgo. Assist patients in stress management techniques: breathing, yoga, etc and for children quiet reading activities away from their devices! Reading on a Kindle or Kobo is very para-sympathetic (NOT ON TABLETS or anything with the blue light. Apply low lights apps to devices: Nightshift or Twilight) ( Read Phytotherapist No 58 on http://www.mediherb.ca).
Anti-oxidant status: steroid dependant asthma patients have higher free radicals and low selenium levels. Oxidative stress contributes to inflammation and tissue damage in the respiratory system. Nutrients that increase glutathione include selenium, NAC, and reduced glutathione supplementation. (Thorne SR Glutathione). A diet low in Vitamin C is a risk factor for asthma. Aller C and Vitanox and Greens First.
Sources: Read Phytotherapist No 96 April 2006 + No 97 May 2006 + No 15 January 2015 after you make your account with www.mediherb.ca
Pincott Perspective: Optimizing the Gut Microbiome May 2018 for her GI protocols.
See you in 2019 🙂