At the Nutritional Healing Center it is rather common to treat asthma sufferers and to see dramatic improvements. Asthma seems to be a disease that greatly improves from attention to diet, nutritional medicine, and chiropractic care. Each person deserves a unique treatment plan, one that reflects individual needs and support for individual weaknesses. Although treatment plans usually vary from person to person, there are patterns that are seen in asthma sufferers. Here are some common problems that seem to influence asthma:
The link between infections and asthma is usually in the intestines of the body. Many infections varying from yeasts to parasites thrive in the digestive tract. These infections disrupt digestion and can actually inflame and slowly degrade the linings of the intestines. This condition is called "leaky gut syndrome." When the linings of the intestines degrade it becomes difficult to absorb adequate amounts of nutrition from the food that we eat. Worse, a damaged intestinal lining allows infective organisms, undigested food particles, and toxic chemicals into the blood stream. This causes inflammation and allergic reactions in the body. Asthma sufferers are commonly extremely reactive to certain foods and infective organisms. Some of the infections that I find and treat are listed below:
*yeast/fungal/mold- a common infection these days. It is found in 90% of the patients that I treat. Exposure to high levels of antibiotics, steroids (topical or ingested), hormones (birth control pills, artificial thyroid hormones, estrogen replacement therapy, etc), or a high sugar diet makes individuals prone to yeast problems. To clear out a fungal or yeast problem a patient (and often their spouse) need to take special yeast killing medicines and follow a strict diet for 3 weeks. In worst case scenarios houses and air quality may need to be screened. Occasionally a "sick building" will be at the root of sick people's fungal illness and resultant complaints.
*parasites- a common infection found in my patients. Exposure to poorly handled meats or vegetables, poor water supply, pets, or travel to foreign countries may increase risk of parasite infections. Parasites need to be treated with special antiparasitic medications. Antibiotics will not work on parasites.
*viruses- many people have compromised immune systems. With lowered immune system function certain people are prone to long standing viral infections. Viruses are not easily eradicated except by your own immune system and white blood cells. Any therapy for viral infections needs to be aimed at improving immune system function. Specific herbs, vitamins, and minerals will help. Usually viruses are opportunistic organisms if the viral infection is long standing. Long standing, low grade viral infections are usually the result of a poorly functioning immune system.
*bacterial infections- certain bacteria are long term infections such as H. Pylori (a type of bacteria that lives in the stomach and upper digestive tract and causes ulcers and digestive problems). Certain bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics due to over-prescription of antibiotics and the fact that antibiotics are found in most meat and dairy products. Bacterial infections may need to be treated with antibiotic herbs or medicines.
*Ask your health care provider to screen for systemic yeast infections, parasite infections, viral burdens, and possible low grade bacterial infections. The most common way to screen for yeast and parasite infections is with a stool sample being shipped to a qualified laboratory such as Great Smokies Labs for analysis. We screen all of our patients for these infections in our office and treat these infections with the appropriate natural remedies.
As mentioned above, leaky gut syndrome is a large problem for asthma sufferers. It also is an underlying problem for people with migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and many others. Leaky gut syndrome is basically a damaged digestive tract. The delicate lining of our intestines works hard to keep infections and toxins out of our blood. It also works hard to pull nutrients out of our food and bring these "good guys" into our bodies. When these linings are damaged it lets the bad guys into the blood and the damaged lining cannot absorb as much of our health-promoting nutrients. When infective organisms and undigested food particles enter into the blood stream the immune system becomes hyper-active and works hard to kill the germs and mistakenly tries to kill the undigested food particles also. The immune system cannot differentiate between a foreign infective protein or an undigested food protein. The immune system just sees these as "foreign"and tries to kill all of it. This process is extremely tiring for our bodies. People with leaky gut syndrome are usually very tired, very sick, and have lots of inflammation in the body. Inflammation affects the lungs and influences asthmatic symptoms. Leaky gut syndrome often spontaneously heals when infections are removed. Occasionally herbal formulas and certain vitamins, mineral, or amino acids are required to speed healing of the intestinal lining. We evaluate each individual for leaky gut syndrome and screen for a need for infection-fighting herbs, healing nutrients, or both.
Food allergies are such an important part of changing asthma that I just can't say enough about it. I could not fully get patients well if I did not screen for food allergies and then have my patients do trial avoidances of certain foods. Identification of the correct food allergy can help a patient have extremely quick resolution of symptoms for asthma and also other illnesses. Usually food allergies are to certain common foods such as dairy products, corn, wheat, oats, eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, or meats. I also find allergies to less common foods. We screen all our patients with a simple 5 minute test each office visit. This is necessary because food reactions often change from week to week! Exposure levels to foods vary each day and the body is burdened with varying levels of toxins, emotional burdens, and organ functions. We desensitize each patient to their indicated allergy causing foods and have then avoid them for a week or two.
I see most of my patients, as they become healthier, lose all sensitivities to foods and airborne irritants. Most people with airborne allergies have at root of their problems some unidentified food allergies, infections, and liver congestion. Because I see airborne allergies as being caused by similar problems that cause food allergic reactions I will discuss "allergic reactions" as being just one thing.
There are at least 3 types of allergic reactions to stressors. The first type of reaction is a fast response which is mediated by IgE antibodies. These allergic responses are usually associated with itching, sneezing, rashes, trouble breathing, hives, etc. These fast acting allergies are responsible for people's reactions to bee stings, sneezing attacks from ragweed and pollens, or rashes after eating strawberries. They can be life-threatening. People often know that they have these types of allergies because they can be obvious. A way of testing for IgE mediate allergies is by the skin scratch method. I dislike this type of allergy testing because skin testing only looks for IgE mediated responses and there are other important types of allergies which I will discuss. Having a skin scratch test is like smelling smoke in your house and just looking in the bathroom for the fire!
The second type of allergic response to foods is a slow response which is mediated by IgG type antibodies. This delayed allergic response can be delayed from hours to days, up to 72 hours in some instances after exposure to an irritant. Because these reactions are so delayed it is difficult to make a connection between source of irritation and symptoms. If you have a piece of chocolate cake and 1 to 3 days later get a headache it is difficult to realize that it might have been the chocolate cake that gave it to you! I find that these delayed response allergies are responsible for many of my patients'complaints including digestive complaints, headaches, fatigue, mood changes, chronic immune suppression and resultant frequent infections, sinus problems, ear problems in children, colic in infants, hyperactivity, tonsilitis, diarrhea, rashes, and even aches and pains in joints. Two ways of testing for these allergies are blood testing and neurologic testing. For people who have IgG reactions to foods it is important to identify these foods, avoid these foods for several weeks, support digestion, supply missing nutrition, and desensitize with acupuncture, NAET, cold laser therapy, or other techniques. Frequently people return to me with a large enough improvement in health that they can reintroduce these foods into their diet and suffer no more reactions!
A third type of allergic response is a gut-mediated response or IgA allergic response. This is where the intestines themselves and the immune system associated with them respond to foods in the gut. These types of reactions are probably responsible for many of the digestive disorders people complain of such as irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, etc. This allergic response can be tested for with certain laboratory testing or neurologic testing. This type of allergic response is still rather new to most doctors and is slowly being incorporated into progressive clinics testing procedures. IgA allergies are treated the same way as IgG reactions.
I have no doubt that there are other yet unrealized ways that the body may be reactive to certain substances. It is not uncommon for a person to have tests that show no allergic connection to a certain food and yet you know that when you eat this food you feel bad and have symptoms. This is just an example of how you can have unpleasant reactions to substances and yet we are unable to find the exact connection. The gold standard in all allergy testing is using your common sense: Do you feel better when you avoid this food? Do you feel better when you avoid breathing pollen laden air? If so, we probably are on the right track. Since it is difficult to avoid breathing air during pollen season, I focus on other areas of a person's health like hidden food allergies, digestion, liver function, dysbiosis. When a person has these other problems cleared up usually a person can handle breathing the air during "allergy season"and have no symptoms.
Chiropractic care has proven effective with asthma. Occasionally misalignments of the spinal vertebrae affect nerves that communicate with various organs in the body. Correcting these misalignments allows the return of normal nervous system function. It is imperative that the nervous system works properly for the lungs and bronchioles, for the digestive tract, liver, and all organs that support the lungs. Certain cases of asthma have cleared up with chiropractic care alone so it is important to check for vertebral misalignments.
*Nutritional deficiencies in general may be behind certain health problems. Today, more than ever, people are mineral and vitamin deficient. We don't have to just eat junk food to be lacking in vitamins and minerals. Often "healthy" foods, vegetables, fruits, and meats from the grocery have less than half of the mineral content of foods 60 years ago. Shopping for foods that are grown organically helps with this. Sometimes multivitamins are recommended. A sign of a poor vitamin is one that has the toxin stearic acid or calcium stearate. Stearic acid is a saturated fat that makes absorption of the vitamin much more difficult. I suggest looking for vitamin manufacturers that encapsulate rather than make vitamins in tablet form. Also a sign of a poor vitamin is one that uses the poorly absorbed calcium carbonate. If your calcium is in the form of calcium carbonate, in my opinion, it is worthless.
*A normaly functioning liver will help to detoxify the body of toxins AND filter the blood before it enters the rest of the body. A normally functioning liver produces bile salts which aid in digestion. The function of the liver is extremely important for people with chronic illness, especially asthma. Since the liver is so important for cleaning and detoxifying it needs to working properly because people with asthma are usually extremely burdened with toxins. It is usually not possible to detoxify the body well if the liver is not working well. So detoxifying must also include support for the liver. If a person is attempting to detoxify heavy metals with a congested liver, metals may just circulate in the blood stream and never really leave the body, which does the person no good. It is like shaking out a carpet inside the house with the windows closed. This is extremely stressful for the body. So certain vitamins and minerals may be needed to support liver function and help the liver to do its job.
*Often people with asthma have digestive dysfunction. Often they are not absorbing the nutrients that they are eating. A person may have leaky gut syndrome which lets toxins and undigested food particles enter into the blood stream. When this happens allergic reactions and autoimmune problems follow. Leaky gut can often be corrected when infectious organisms are removed. Some people may not be making enough acid in their stomach and can benefit from acidic enzyme therapy such as hydrochloric acid tablets with meals. Some people may have poorly functioning pancreatic function and so may benefit from pancreatic enzymes. Some people may have a poorly functioning liver and gall bladder with low secretion of bile salts. Bile salts may be helpful for digestion and emulsification of fats. To summarize, if a person is not digesting
*Karen, a 14 year old teenage girl, was brought into my office by her worried mom. Her mom told me the story of Karen's extreme lack of energy over the last several weeks and many migraine headaches. Her mom felt like her daughter was dying since her drop in energy and feeling so bad. It was so bad she felt her daughter might have some type of hidden cancer. She was missing school because of this. Other doctors had been consulted but no real ideas were forthcoming as to what were the reasons behind Karen's lack of energy and headaches. Upon screening for allergies, Karen showed a sensitivity to milk and peanuts. A low adrenal function was indicated and also a need for some help with digestion. I recommended that Karen avoid all milk products completely, avoid peanuts, take a nutritional support formula for adrenal function, and take some digestive enzymes with meals. I gave Karen some chiropractic adjustments and also performed some simple acupressure techniques to calm down her body's reaction to certain foods. A return visit brought back a very pleased teenager and a very relieved mom. Karen reported that she had not had a single headache since visiting my office! Her energy was back up to normal teenage levels. I complimented her and told her that her good results were mostly due to her good compliance with avoiding milk and peanuts. She also reported that she was not having any asthmatic attacks. I was surprised at this because she had not mentioned asthma as a problem in our initial visit. I believe that she just thought asthma was just a chronic condition and these acute problems only needed to be taken care of. But it was pleasant to see that a chronic and unmentioned condition was improving with simple dietary changes and nutritional help. On follow up visits for preventative care Karen has mentioned that when she cheats and has milk her asthma seems to flare up. Karen benefits from a quality multi-vitamin for maintenance. Karen had been to numerous doctors but none had done any allergy testing or screened for hypo-adrenal function.
*Laura- a 38 year old woman came to my office complaining of asthma, sinus congestion and drainage down the throat especially after exercise, and an inability to lose weight despite exercising 2 hours per day on average and dieting. Allergy testing revealed a strong sensitivity to dairy and a yeast infection as her predominant health burdens. An anti-yeast diet, anti-yeast medication, and avoiding dairy has brought about 6 pounds of weight loss despite being at the same weight for years, a lessening of sinus congestion, and no more red flushes or breathing difficulty after exercising. Natasha has suffered from asthma and sinus problems all her life. At this time Laura is continuing to supplement with a multi-vitamin, hydrochloric acid supplementation for digestive support, and an essential fatty acid. She continues to breathe well and also continues to avoid milk.
Asthma is a multi-faceted disease and the complete spectrum of possible causes needs to be investigated. All too often I see or hear of asthma sufferers managing their asthma with inhalers or they are taking several drugs but not really feeling good. They do this because they don't really know of another way to handle this disease. There is another way. By removing the causative factors of asthma people can be free of this problem, not just scrape by. Call us if we can be of any assistance.