Alternative treatments for Asthma are many…from herbs to homeopathy, from breathing exercises to meditation, etc….But most of the ‘accepted’ Western medical doctors are hesitant to accept the possibility that these methods can help in conjunction with their prescriptions, let alone do the job alone! There is insufficient research done on any of these possible treatments for most doctors to endorse their use; and as long as there is insufficient research being funded and conducted it will remain the same! Also the research needs more than funding and conducting …it also needs to be accomplished by people who are not prejudiced before hand by Western medicine to keep the results pure!
Dietary Changes: There have been limited numbers of studies that show that diet influences Asthma significantly. Therefore fixing specific issues could contribute just as significantly to its treatment!
- Increase Water consumption: Drinking water may seem a little too simple, but…..water will help thin out the mucous secretions that increase during an asthma attack, making it easier to clear the lungs and bronchial tubes.
- Milk elimination: Milk has been shown to be one of the leading dietary causes of allergies, which are one of the leading triggers of an asthma attack! When I was growing up it was considered general knowledge that consumption of milk (or other milk products) could increase mucous production!
- Coffee may help in an attack: Because coffee (black coffee no sugar or milk added) is a stimulant it can often encourage the lungs to function more normally. It will help to break up the mucous and alleviate the tightness in the chest and throat. But this is not necessarily recommended for daily use!
- Ensure daily consumption of magnesium in the diet: Magnesium has bronchio-dilating effect in the body. Studies have shown that magnesium levels are often low in people experiencing Asthma. Food sources of Magnesium are: almonds, spinach, cashews, soybeans, peanuts (including peanut butter), potato, blackeyed peas, pinto beans, brown rice, lentils, kidney beans, bananas, etc.
- Supplement with Omega-3: Omega-3’s are believed to decrease inflammation. You can increase the Omega-3’s in your diet by eating it in Salmon, scallops, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, walnuts, almonds, kale, tofu, shrimp, tuna, mussels, sardines, etc.’
- Increase antioxidants in the diet: Antioxidants tend to stimulate free radical activity; they in turn help to decrease inflammation! These can be found in the Vitamins A, C, and E among other sources! Some dietary sources include…blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, Kidney beans, pinto beans, avocados, pineapple, cherries, kiwi, plums, artichokes, spinach, red cabbage, sweet potatoes, broccoli, green tea, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and oat products (like oatmeal)
Increase Exercise: Often exercise can cause an asthma attack, but in good asthma management the goal is to return the patient back to normal or near normal activity, and that includes exercise. Just try to tell a child they cannot run, and jump, and ride their bike! I dare you! Regular exercise helps the Asthmatic in multiple ways including, but not limited to the following benefits: stress reduction, increased energy, and sleep improvements. Exercise also lowers your risk for obesity and heart disease, common problems with adult asthmatics!!
- Recommended types of exercise include: volleyball, gymnastics, baseball and wrestling, and any other exercise that allows occasional breaks in the activity!
- Use of precautions: Use common sense when exercising….never exercise when you feel ‘off,’ and use some of the following suggestions to prepare for each session: Stretching exercises to help warm up, avoid allergen areas (…use an exercise pad when working out on carpet, avoid areas where there is high pollen or car exhaust). Breath through your nose, rather than your mouth.
Move: This may seem extreme, but if you live in a very moist, humid location moving to a dry, hot atmosphere may just seem to cure your asthma! Try vacationing in different locals….desert southwest, mountainous areas, by the sea, in a city, out in the country. Where are you the most comfortable? Consider if this dramatic a change may just be worth the expense! In lieu of an actual move try some of these ideas:
- Find a good, dry exercise area, such as a local gym
- Avoid high allergen areas
- Make sure you sleep with your chest and head elevated!
Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been used to treat Asthma because it balances the positive and negative flows of energy in the body, and that is precisely how Acupuncture is believed to work. Asthma is believed to be an imbalance of these opposing energies, with acupuncture restoring the stability to normal levels.
It is believed by many to restore lung function and to reduce the severity of an asthma attack should it occur. Research however has not been able to prove the effectiveness of acupuncture in asthma, but rather the results are inconclusive. The most recent Cochrane Collaborative Review feels that the information thus far does not allow recommendation of this treatment.
Aromatherapy: Essential oil blends can reduce the severity and occurrence of asthma attacks, and help relieve them once they commence! The best time for aromatherapy treatments is between attacks since you do not want the scent to make the problem a worse issue.
E.O.’s to use:
To reduce Bronchial Spasms: chamomile, lavender, rose, geranium and marjoram
Decongestant and Antihistamine: peppermint and ginger
To Encourage deep breathing and to allow lung expansion: Frankincense and marjoram
These Essential oils can be incorporated into chest rubs, steams, humidifiers, the bath or in massage oils.
Biofeedback: Biofeedback is the use of electronic devices to help the patient control or influence normally automatic body functions such as heartbeat and breathing. In controlled studies it has shown to have benefit for most patients, where they maintain control of their asthma while reducing their inhaled steroids.
Herbal Medicine: Many herbs will decrease the inflammation and relieve bronchio-spasms.
Homeopathy: Homeopathy uses very small amounts of natural substance to stimulate the body’s immune function and natural defenses. Each person, and each asthma attack is different so the choices here are prescribed as a tailored approach to each patients needs.
Massage: Massage is believed effective due to the relaxation in the whole being that can be achieved. It can be done using aromatherapy massage oils to enhance its effectiveness. Massage can retrain the muscles to a state of relaxation and reduced stress. Although not well studied, massage can be beneficial by relieving a known trigger for asthma attacks, stress. Additional research is needed in this area.
Pulmonary Therapy (Breathing Exercises): It has been demonstrated that people with asthma that use Breathing Exercises can reduce their use of medications by up to 86%. At Sydney’s Woolcock Institute of Medical Research and Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital conducted this research and released their findings in the August, 2006 edition of Thorax.
Relaxation Techniques – Meditation: It has been found that people who practice meditation and the resulting relaxation have a marked decrease in asthma symptoms and attacks. Meditation can eve help to bring an active attack under control. Often the fear of the attack will trigger panic which will make everything worse. The meditation can counteract this phenomenon.
Yoga: Through gentle stretching and exercise Yoga helps to relax the body and the mind, allowing improvement in circulation and respiration. It will relieve tension and assist the body in its own healing.
Folklore: These are for entertainment only!
Own a Chihuahua: in Mexican Folk Medicine it is believe to cure asthma!
To cure asthma: Drill a hole into a black-oak tree at the height of the patient’s head. Place a lock of hair in the hole, and drive a wooden peg into the hole to hold the hair in place. Now cut the peg and hair flush with the tree bark. When the bark has grown over the peg and hair, hiding it from sight and the hair has re-grown, the asthma will be cured!
Asthma could be cured by tying a live frog to the patient’s throat. When the frog died the disease was “completely absorbed” by the frog.
Kill a steer, cut open its gut, and place the patient’s feet into the abdomen. When the entrails have cooled the asthma will be cured.
Boil the comb of a hornet’s nest and sweeten it with honey, take to cure asthma!