Asthma is a bronchial condition that affects 25 million Americans today, that’s 8% of the population. With the announcement of a new drug, is it cause for rejoicing, or time to take a look at something other than more drugs, like perhaps natural treatments? What are the alternatives available today beyond this potentially successful, yet expensive treatment requiring weekly injections, sporting side-effects like nausea, headaches and runny nose?
Taking a look into my own family, where both my brother and my father used to suffer from life-threatening asthma, and no longer do, I long to tell the story of ‘another way’.
I can remember the days when my brother used to carry his inhaler around and between tickling and torture wars on me, he would have to pause and take a spray just to keep playing. He was only 8 years old when I remember this happening. The days would come when the inhaler was not enough and he would have an ‘attack’, one day serious enough that he almost didn’t make it. The day he came out of the hospital after his brush with death, he was never the same. He stopped torturing me in the same way an older brother often does and started to approach life more seriously.
My father was on a variety of medications, including his asthma meds, in and out of the hospital on many occasions. My mother was at her wits end, she was afraid he wasn’t going to make it one of those days, his symptoms were getting so bad. My mom took the health of our family into her own hands and decided to look for some alternatives.
It was 1990 and not many people were into natural medicine, in fact, only the ‘weirdos’ were -that I recall. I am sure many of you can remember even an earlier date when that was true for you, but for me it was the last decade of the 1900’s. My parents announced one dinner they were no longer going to eat meat or dairy. They said we could do whatever we wanted, but their decision was to be vegan. We were appalled! What would we eat, I wondered?
My parents played a video to us by a many named John Robbins called “Diet for a New America”. The information therein was riveting. They not only showed the health benefits of not eating animal products, they took the viewer through processing plants and farms where the animals and dairy we consume in this country come from. It was enough to change my diet and my mind about food forever.
Since quitting dairy and meat my father completely recovered from asthma, and no longer experiences anything to do with what once ailed him daily. My father is still off and meat and dairy today, though it is not the sole cause of his healing. Dad did many cleanses and took a lot of herbs, but he will more than vouch for the miracle to his health cutting animal products out of his diet has been.
My brother was off meat and dairy for many years, his symptoms almost completely vanished, and over the past few years he has started to add meat and dairy back into his diet. He says he enjoys eating it, and only occasionally does he notice any kind of bronchial upset, usually just from the occasional seasonal pollen. My brother also engaged in cleansing practices and took various respiratory supporting herbs like nettles and Brigham tea (a mild form of ephedra).
For both of these family members, the results of changing their diet and incorporating natural methods have been life-changing and even life-saving.
Cutting animal products out of the diet entirely can be difficult for many people. Dairy is hugely mucous-forming, as anyone can attest to the feeling in the back of the throat after you consume it. If you aren’t willing or able to cut it out completely, changing to goat cheeses initially would be great move, as the molecules in goat cheese are more akin to human milk, and thereby more absorbable and digestible than the molecules in cow products.There are a lot of nut-milk alternatives that contain just as much, if not more calcium than dairy milk, and just take some getting used to. Try several different types to find which one suits you.
When looking at meat consumption, I would recommend buying organic, or pasture-raised meat not injected with hormones or pesticides and free of nitrates to make sure you are getting the cleanest possible meat. Often, the chemicals and hormones animals are injected with these days seriously affect our health as the consumer. Though the FDA says the levels are safe, there is already leading evidence suggesting adding hormones to our meat supply is causing hormonal imbalances in the youth and in women. Have you noticed the size of our children today?
What other natural asthma support is there?
Horehound is an anti-inflammatory herb often used to support respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough. Horehound is soothing and can usually be found in combination with other lung-assisting herbs such as Elecampane -which also soothes the respiratory system, acting as an expectorant. The can be purchased in either tincture or syrup form. Lobelia is an anti-spasmodic herb used in acute cases to calm spasms in the body and open the bronchial passageways. Lobelia is believed to stimulate the respiratory center of the brain, allowing the body to respond with deeper and stronger breathing.
There is a long list of other herbs known for helping with asthmatic symptoms and restoration of the respiratory system, such as: licorice root, marshmallow root, tumeric, slippery elm bark, wild cherry bark and mullein. You can often find synergistic formulas of several of these herbs at your local health food store. Herbs are recommended as a dietary support and should be consumed several times a day for most effective results. A diet rich in green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and fruit is highly recommended, as is a time away from animal products, even just to give your body a chance to rid itself of mucous and heal.
Several essential oils have also shown positive results for assisting asthmatics and opening up the bronchial passageways such as therapeutic grade eucalyptus, lemon, wintergreen, rosemary and peppermint. Most of these can be applied topically to the lung area or diffused into the air and inhaled. Several reports of using what is called the ‘Raindrop Therapy’ has proven long lasting results at eliminating asthma altogether.
If you are on asthma medication now, do not stop abruptly, talk to your doctor or health practitioner about switching to more natural methods.
Finally, yogic breathing techniques can offer long-lasting support to asthma sufferers, as these practice strengthen the lungs and the thoracic nerve plexus that leads to the lungs resulting in more oxygenated breaths. Even simple practices such as conscious breathing -spending just 5-10 minutes per day doing nothing but thinking about your breath, watching it go in and out, being aware of nothing else – can greatly improve your lung capacity.
Remember, asthma does not have to be a life-long ailment treated with expensive medications which often leave you with undesirable side-effects. There are alternatives out there, so take some time to research which ones might be right for you. Go forth with in the spirit of good health knowing the doors can open wide for you to breath deeply.
Written by: Stasia Bliss