Asthma is a common condition, affecting 10% of adults and 13% of children according to Stats Canada.
It is the most common chronic condition in children.
If you have been diagnosed with asthma, you may be familiar with experiencing sudden coughing, wheezing, and shortage of breath during an asthma attack.
Most often those diagnosed with asthma are provided with an inhaler for treatment of asthma attacks, but alternative options are also available for how to treat asthma naturally.
But what is asthma, and what causes it?
What treatment options are available to supplement your inhaler?
Keep reading to find out.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, where your airways narrow and produce extra mucus.
The inflammation of the airways can cause airflow to become restricted.
Asthma can occur due to:
● Irritants or air pollutants
● Respiratory infections
● Gastroesophageal reflux disease
The severity of asthma can vary, from a minor nuisance for some to a major problem for others that can interfere with daily activities.
In rare cases, asthma attacks can be life-threatening.
Although there is no known cure for asthma, the symptoms may be controlled.
Asthma often changes over time, so talk to your doctor to adjust treatment as required.
Symptoms Of Asthma
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, consult with your doctor to see if you may have asthma.
● Chronic cough
● Shortness of breath
● A feeling of tightness in the chest
Symptoms of asthma may come and go and may be triggered by environmental or other factors listed above.
You may be affected by only some of the symptoms, and their severity can vary.
Persistent coughing may be a sign of asthma, lung disease, or other conditions such as pneumonia, so it’s important to consult with your doctor about your asthma concerns.
Risk Factors for Asthma
Asthma is not contagious and can be caused by both heredity and environmental factors.
If you have a parent or close relative with allergies or asthma, you might inherit the tendency to develop asthma.
Your chance of having asthma is also increased if you have experienced frequent wheezing, inflammation of the nose (allergic rhinitis), or eczema.
Many people with allergies also have asthma, and conditions like rhinitis can worsen asthma symptoms.
You might develop asthma by being exposed to “triggers” for your asthma.
Triggers can either be allergic or non-allergic.
Allergic, or inflammatory, triggers cause inflammation of the airways.
Non-allergic, or symptom, triggers do not cause swelling but can cause airway sensitivity.
Possible allergic triggers include:
● Dust mites
● Air pollutants
Possible non-allergic triggers include:
● Cold air
● Chemical fumes or strong-smelling substances
● Intense emotions
● Cigarette smoke, including second-hand
The standard medical treatment for asthma is to avoid triggers and utilize an inhaler, but there are other treatments available to help manage your asthma symptoms.
Naturopathic Treatments For Asthma
Asthma may be treated with a naturopathic approach.
The first and most important asthma treatment is to identify and manage your triggers.
Consider having an allergy test performed with your doctor.
In addition, speak to your doctor about assessing your nutrient deficiencies.
Vitamin C and D, magnesium, potassium, and fatty acid deficiencies have been associated with asthma.
But there are other naturopathic treatments available as well.
Here are a few naturopathic treatments your naturopathic doctor may recommend.
1. Steam Baths
Steam baths have been used as an aid for airway irritation and nasal congestion associated with asthma.
According to a study published in the 1987/88 medical journal “Clinical Ecology,” Dr. Jozef Krop, a pioneer in sauna therapy, cured a teenage girl of her asthma through sauna therapy.
He stated that steroids, environmental control, immunotherapy, and anti-candida treatments did not clear her symptoms, but sauna therapy did.
Although there are few other studies that prove that steam treatments improve symptoms, steam baths can still be an effective natural treatment for asthma.
Steam baths may relieve some symptoms by providing moisture to the airways.
Watch the temperature of your steam — in some asthmatics, if the temperature is too high, it can exacerbate symptoms.
Steam baths can help alleviate symptoms but should not replace asthma medications.
Speak to your doctor before beginning a steam bath routine.
2. Nutritional Supplementation
Omega-3 fatty acids, often found in fish oil, help reduce inflammatory markers, improving pulmonary function.
This is also an important supplement for those who are pregnant, as adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids has shown lowered rates of asthma among infants.
Magnesium is another supplement which can be used to treat asthma, as it increases bronchodilation.
More studies are needed to show if fish oil and magnesium improve lung function or reduce the necessity of asthma medicine required.
However, both supplements when used under supervision of your doctor, are beneficial for overall health.
3. Herbs And Botanical Medicine
Your naturopathic doctor may prescribe a natural herbal treatment for your asthma, such as:
● Garlic, due to its anti-inflammatory properties
● Ginger, which may decrease inflammation
● Turmeric, which may have anti-allergy properties
● Honey, which can soothe asthma symptoms
Your naturopathic doctor may also opt for a botanical treatment, such as:
● Boswellia, Curcuma longa, and Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice), when combined can dampen the chemical messengers which initiate inflammation
● Astragalus membranaceus, a powerful immune-strengthening herb with tissue specificity in the lungs
● Lobelia inflata, a respiratory stimulant and expectorant, which should only be used under the supervision of a trained practitioner due to its potential toxicity
4. Stress Management
Stress is a trigger for asthma, and management of stress can help alleviate symptoms.
In addition, a 2017 study published in Frontiers in Pediatrics shows that maternal prenatal stress has been associated with a higher risk for a variety of immune and metabolic alterations in the offspring such as asthma and allergic disorders.
These are just a sample of possible treatments your naturopathic doctor may use, depending on your unique health history and needs.
Contact the Mindful Healing Clinic
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with asthma?
If so, contact me, Dr. Maria Cavallazzi.
During your initial appointment, you’ll get a chance to sit down with me where we can talk about your asthma and any other health concerns you may have.
From there, I’ll answer any questions you may have, and we can talk about putting together a treatment plan based on your unique health needs.
Contact the Mindful Healing Clinic to book your FREE 15-minute introductory session today!
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.