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Treating Asthma Naturally

Nebulizer Mask

What Triggers an Asthma Attack?

It can be triggered by airborne allergens, food reactions or even burning the candle at both ends and not getting proper rest. A run down body is more susceptible to illness than a healthy rested one. It usually presents itself by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing. My son would have a harsh never ending cough. No matter how much cough medicine or tea I would give him, it would not resolve the cough. Anyone with a child that suffers from asthma recognizes the cough.

Relief would begin when the cough would finally break up accompanied by a more rattely mucousy sounding cough. As unattractive as it would sound, I knew that it was the beginning of his getting better.

Usual Asthma Treatments

There are a variety of treatments for asthma depending on the severity. I’m most familiar with nebulizing albuterol and pulmicort. There are also the portable inhalers for a quick treatment when the nebulizer isn’t available. We could never leave the house for a soccer game without the cleats, plenty of water and the inhaler.

Alternative or Supplementary Asthma Treatments

While some foods can trigger an asthma attack, others can help to stave of an attack. I don’t recommend throwing away the inhaler and nebulizer, but I do recommend modifying the diet to help reduce the need for the prescribed medicines. Is there documented proof that this stuff works? There are small studies that give credence to some of the dietary changes, but I believe the medical community wants more proof before they make recommendations. I’m not part of the medical community, I’m only sharing my beliefs and some of my experience, so don’t consider me an authority on the subject.

The Asthma Thought Process

I usually look at afflictions and illnesses and diseases by how they work. If an asthma attack is caused by the inflammation of airways in the lungs, it makes sense to try to find foods and natural ingredients that helps to reduce or prevent inflammation (prevention is always better – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure).

Chili PepperAnti Inflammatory Spices

Not recommended for the little ones, but spicy foods help to dilate the passages in the lungs thus helping to improve breathing. If you’re in the mood to nibble on chili peppers, sprinkle cayenne on your food or eat hot mustard (to name a few airway opening foods), you might find that you can breathe a little easier.

Inflammation Reducing Fish Oils

A little easier on the palate and probably a better alternative for the little ones, fish oils have an anti inflammatory properties because they’re high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Some  small studies suggest that Omega 3 is helpful in preventing the inflammation associated with asthma, and Omega 6, on the other hand does just the opposite and can contribute to exacerbating asthma symptoms. Before you go out and start eating tons of fish, do your homework. You don’t want to trade asthma symptoms for mercury poisoning.

Apple Cider VinegarHere’s an article which explains omega 3 and omega 6 balancing:  Essential Fatty Acids: Omega 6 & Omega 3.

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and Inflammation

From my experience with ACV, it does wonders with mucus and the sniffles, and also helps with snoring. Does it work on preventing asthma inflammation? There are folks who swear by it,  but honestly speaking, I don’t know for sure because I don’t suffer with asthma and I stumbled upon ACV well after my son’s asthma symptoms had all but disappeared.

My Asthma Story

When my son was diagnosed with asthma, in addition to the doctor prescribed albuterol and nebulizer, I changed his diet. I removed as many processed foods as possible and made most foods from scratch. The whole milk was substituted for soy milk and all dairy products were low or no fat.

Over time, there was a reduction in frequency of asthma attacks. Was it the change in diet? Who knows for sure, but as a mom, I tried to be proactive because watching an otherwise healthy 2 year old suffer an asthma attack was just as painful as watching him squirm and complain while being forced to sit at the nebulizer.

He’s just about all grown up now and in the last 8 years he has had one incident that required a nebulizer about a year ago. I think that’s pretty good considering that he initially would have to nebulize daily on regular intervals.Inhaler

Lesson I Learned

Finding optimal health is a matter of making the best out of the deck of cards dealt to you. Sometimes it’s a combination of traditional medicine supplemented with common sense and good nutrition. Asthma isn’t anything to play around with. Before you throw away your traditional asthma relief methods, in favor of a natural approach, do extensive homework and keep your doctor in the loop.

A few shots from an inhaler and some nebulization may help with the symptoms, but it doesn’t change the underlying causes. That’s where nutrition and healthy choices come into play.

Necessary Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional therefore I am not and cannot give medical advice. I’m just sharing my story.

About the author: Felicia has learned the hard way that health, whether good or bad, is a result of daily choices and habits. On this blog Felicia shares what she’s learned and the healthier choices she now makes as a result of her new knowledge. She hopes to encourage others to experiment to find alternative solutions to nagging problems (she’s also is a bit of a tree hugger and likes to share ways to lighten the toxic burden on the environment).

in Ailments, Apple Cider Vinegar, Asthma, Natural Healing, Nutrition
{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Stew March 26, 2012, 7:13 pm

    Regarding vitamin K in the liver, the evidence indicates that K1 and K2 (MK4) in the liver end up being excreted. The other forms of K2 ( eg MK7, 8 and 9) have a different route, they go out from the liver in LDL and are absorbed by other organs/cells (eg pancreas, brain, arteries) and they will end up being excreted.
    The FAO of the UN and WHO produced a document on Vitamin and Mineral nutrients in 1998 [1], in the section on Vitamin K toxicity they wrote:-
    “When taken orally, natural K vitamins seem free of toxic side effects. This safety is illustrated by the common clinical administration of phylloquinone at doses of 10–20 mg or greater. Some patients with chronic fat malabsorption regularly ingest doses of this size without evidence of any harm.”

    A key word above is natural K vitamins, there is an artificial form called K3 and that is toxic in high doses, it is not sold for human consumption.

    Of interest in that document the FAO and WHO also stated the following regarding future research on vitamin K;-

    “Future research
    The following are recommended areas for future research:
    • prevalence, causes, and prevention of VKDB in infants in different population groups;
    • bio-availability of dietary phylloquinone (and menaquinones) from foods and
    menaquinones from gut flora;
    • significance of menaquinones to human requirements for vitamin K;
    • the physiologic roles of vitamin K-dependent proteins in functions other than coagulation;
    and
    • the significance of under-carboxylated vitamin K-dependent proteins and sub-optimal
    vitamin K status to bone and cardiovascular health”

    This was written in 1998 and many interesting studies have appeared since then. Of the 5 points raised I would say that the evidence is:-
    1. Adequate intake of vitamin K by the mother is vital for the development of foetuses and newborn children. It looks vital for development of children.
    2. Menaquinone doesn’t seem to be highly available from the gut, if it was then all the vitamin K dependent proteins in the body would be activated. However it has been found that only by increasing vitamin K intake can this be done.
    3. It looks like the menaquinones are vital to prevent diseases associated with aging. Phylloquinone (K1) is very good but doesn’t quite work the same.
    4. The vitamin K dependent proteins are linked to the prevention of many illnesses.eg Matrix gla proteins – CVD, arthritis, glaucoma. Osteocalcin – osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus, Nephrocalcin – kidney stones (kidney health?) Periostin – asthma, dental health, arthritis, wound repair (ulcers?). Transforming Growth factor Beta induced (tgfbi) – Cancer, cornea. Protein C – deep vein thrombosis, sepsis, inflammation, cancer. Protein S – deep vein thrombosis, sepsis, inflammation. GAS6 – nervous system.
    5. Under carboxylated and suboptimal vitamin K status is very significant for cardiovascular health and osteoporosis.
    I would mention one study for reference for some of the above “Vitamin K, an example of triage theory: is micronutrient inadequacy linked to diseases of aging?” [2]
    Though a lot more research is needed in order gain a clearer understanding of the exact benefits of vitamin K.

    Coming back to vitamin K toxicity, there was a study on a synthetic manufactured form of MK7 which showed that a single oral dose of 2000 mg/kg body weight in mice had no observable toxicity during the 14 days observation period. This dose is equivalent to a 75 kg person taking 150,000,000 micrograms of K2. Rats given 10 mg/kg body weight for 90 days again showed no adverse effects, this is equivalent to 750,000 micrograms a day for a 75 Kg person. [3]
    People have been taking 45 mgs/day of K2 (MK4) for years in Japan to treat osteoporosis. Some adverse effects have been reported eg skin rash, stomach discomfort, headache. Though as far as I know there hasn’t been a double blind study and so one cannot be certain that the 45 mgs of K2 necessarily caused the issues or whether it is caused by the other substances in the capsules. [4]

    However with all these issues you have to weigh up the evidence and decide for yourself.

    Regarding your diet, green leafy vegetables are great; apart from K1 they have a lot of other beneficial nutrients. However K2 does seem to have benefits beyond what can be achieved from k1. Yogurt would have K2, though the evidence is that full fat would contain much more K2. Fermented cheese is another great source of K2 and it is a much better source than meat (apart from possibly liver).

    People have and do overdose on vitamin supplements; however vitamin K2/K1 does seem to be pretty safe. I tend to be more concerned about the other ingredients/fillers in the capsules/tablets.

    [1] Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements 1998
    FAO UN / WHO
    [1] ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/004/y2809e/y2809e00.pdf

    Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Oct;90(4):889-907. Epub 2009 Aug 19.
    [2] Vitamin K, an example of triage theory: is micronutrient inadequacy linked to diseases of aging?
    McCann JC, Ames BN.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19692494

    Toxicol Mech Methods. 2011 Sep;21(7):520-32. Epub 2011 Jul 25.
    [3] Safety and toxicological evaluation of a synthetic vitamin K2, menaquinone-7.
    Pucaj K, Rasmussen H, Møller M, Preston T.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21781006

    [4] Glakay Vitamin K2 Capsules 2009
    http://www.eisai.jp/medical/products/di/EPI/GLA_SC_EPI.pdf

    I hope this helps.

    • Felicia March 28, 2012, 10:46 am

      Stew, I’ve got to apologize. I was so busy digesting the information that I forgot to approve the comment. Thanks for the info.

  • Stew March 22, 2012, 1:38 pm

    Vitamin K and Fat

    Firstly a very important thing to remember with vitamin K is that it is fat
    soluble. No matter what form you take vitamin K in, if it isn’t consumed
    with fat you will not absorb it well and you will not get the benefit or
    indeed the benefit of any other fat soluble nutrient.
    I know fat has been vilified as unhealthy, however modern studies have shown that fat (apart from transfats) have been found to be healthy or neutral. I would refer to the nutrition section of the American Heart Association publication Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2012 which
    states the following:-
    …………….
    In the WHI randomized clinical trial (n_48 835), reduction
    of total fat consumption from 37.8% energy (baseline) to
    24.3% energy (at 1 year) and 28.8% energy (at 6 years) had
    no effect on incidence of CHD (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.88–
    1.09), stroke (RR 1.02, 95% CI 0.90 –1.15), or total CVD
    (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.92–1.05) over a mean of 8.1 years.67
    This was consistent with null results of 4 prior randomized
    clinical trials (below) and multiple large prospective cohort
    studies (below) that indicated little effect of total fat
    consumption on risk of CVD.68

    In a pooled analysis of individual-level data from 11
    prospective cohort studies in the United States, Europe, and
    Israel that included 344 696 participants, each 5% higher
    energy consumption of carbohydrate in place of saturated
    fat was associated with a 7% higher risk of CHD (RR 1.07,
    95% CI 1.01–1.14).72 Each 5% higher energy consumption
    of monounsaturated fat in place of saturated fat was not
    significantly associated with CHD risk.72

    In a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies, each 2%
    of calories from trans fat was associated with a 23% higher
    risk of CHD (RR 1.23, 95% CI 1.11–1.37).74
    ……………..

    So saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease, and saturated fat is healthier
    than carbohydrates with regard to heart disease. The theory that fat caused
    heart disease was interesting but has been found to be wrong; unfortunately
    this fact hasn’t got widespread publicity. Statistics from Europe show
    that the European countries that eat the most fat have the longest life
    expectancy and the least heart disease (this is also true with regard to the
    consumption of saturated fat). As you noted elsewhere the truly nasty fats are the manufactured
    trans fats, they really should be banned

    Coming back to vitamin K.

    Dietary Sources of vitamin K

    K1 – Green vegetables (plus butter or olive oil)
    K2 (MK-4) – Meat (there is more K2 in meat from grass fed animals since K1 is converted to K2), egg yolk
    K2 (MK -7,8,9) – Cheese, yogurt (full fat), and probably also liver.
    Fermented soy beans. (Note: The cheese/yogurt should be made from milk from grass fed animals and be well fermented.)

    Eating food containing K2 and K1 is definitely recommended. The longer
    chained menaquinones MK7, MK8, etc seem to be more effective.

    Vitamin K Supplements

    K1 ; it helps ensure your clotting works correctly. K1 doesn’t last long in
    your blood stream, it ends up in the liver and stays there. Trials have used
    doses of 500 to 4000 micrograms.
    K2 (MK-4) : it is sold in large doses eg 5,000 microgram and 45,000
    microgram, these are doses well above anything you could receive naturally.
    MK4 doesn’t last long in your blood stream. The 45 milligram amount is being
    used in Japan for osteoporosis.
    K2 (MK-7): it is available in capsules ranging from 45 micrograms to 100
    micrograms. Like the other forms of vitamin K in ends up in the liver, but
    unlike the other forms it leaves the liver, re-enters the blood stream and
    continues to supply other organs for 72 hours.
    If you are taking K daily then the MK 7 form does ensure that your body has
    vitamin K available when it is needed. In terms of quantity, trials have
    been carried out using 45 micrograms to 360 micrograms. A couple of recent
    successful trials on bone health have used 100 micrograms of MK7, trials
    looking at arterial calcification prevention are using between 180 and 360
    micrograms of MK7.

    Many more studies are needed to determine the optimum amount and type of
    vitamin K needed for health. I am taking about 300 micrograms of MK7 per
    day, I tend to go for the oil filled capsules since there is less ‘filler’,
    though I have also taken the Life Extensions ‘Advanced K formula’ which has
    a mix of the three main available forms of vitamin K. Other people I know
    are taking between 100 to 200 micrograms of MK7. I would note that one of
    the most commonly reported effect is the disappearance of knee
    pain/osteoarthritis. (yes, there are studies linking vitamin K to less knee
    osteoarthritis 🙂 )

    I hope this helps, and please let me know if you have any questions.

    Stew

    • Felicia March 24, 2012, 6:59 am

      Thanks for the great info, Stew. I’m going to digest it a bit (no pun intended).

      I guess my initial question would be about K remaining in the liver. I wouldn’t think it is toxic, but is it possible to overload the liver with K?

      I eat plenty of green leafy veggies and yogurt but no meat. I do eat fish but am unsure if it’s a great source for K. Given my dietary habits, it would seem I should use a K supplement. I”ll look into this a bit further.

      I find this information fascinating. Thanks for being such a great resource.

  • Stew March 15, 2012, 8:38 pm

    I have just seen you have a section on asthma. From my other posts you would have seen I am very interested in vitamin K and it’s link to health.

    I have made notes on asthma, inflammation and vitamin K. which I copied in below.

    Asthma, allergies and vitamin K

    A study in early 1975 showed that vitamin K2 had a preventative effect on the degranulation of mesenteric mast cells. Degranulation is the secretion of cytoplasmic granules which is a key step in the inflammatory response of leukocytes. The study also showed that degranulation of cells from people who had been taking vitamin K2 for some time was significantly inhibited. [1]

    A study later that year showed benefit in vitamin K2 therapy for people with bronchial asthma. [2]
    This suggests that vitamin K2 could be useful for asthma and other allergic disorders that cause degranulation.

    Inflammation and vitamin K

    A study on inflammation in rats and vitamin K1 was carried out in 2005. Inflammation was induced in rats by lipopolysaccharide administration, and it was found that genes involved in acute inflammatory response was greatly increased in the liver of the K deficient rats compared with control rats and vitamin K supplemented rats. A further study on whether the vitamin K status would influence the inflammatory response was carried out; control rats and vitamin K supplemented rats were administered with lipopolysaccharide. After 18 hours 31% of the control rats were dead whereas all of the vitamin K supplemented rats were alive. Inflammation markers in the rats on the vitamin K supplemented diet were significantly decreased. [3]

    In a 2010 study it was shown that vitamin K in its various forms has an anti inflammatory effect independent of the GLA formation activity. [3a]
    Analysis of vitamin K and inflammation markers in people from Framingham USA was carried out. It showed that plasma phylloquinone and dietary phylloquinone was link to reduced levels of inflammation markers. [4]

    Acta Med Okayama. 1975 Feb;29(1):73-81.
    [1] Menaquinone (vitamin K2) therapy for bronchial asthma. I. Mechanism of action menaquinone on allergic reactions.
    Kimura I, Tanizaki Y, Sato S, Saito K, Takahashi K.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/126001

    Acta Med Okayama. 1975 Apr;29(2):127-35.
    [2] Menaquinone (vitamin K2) therapy for bronchial asthma. II. Clinical effect of menaquinone on bronchial asthma.
    Kimur I, Tanizaki Y, Sato S, Saito K, Takahashi K.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/51576

    Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2006 Apr;70(4):926-32.
    [3] Vitamin K suppresses lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in the rat.
    Ohsaki Y, Shirakawa H, Hiwatashi K, Furukawa Y, Mizutani T, Komai M.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16636460

    J Nutr Biochem. 2010 Nov;21(11):1120-6. Epub 2010 Feb 9.
    [3a] Vitamin K suppresses the lipopolysaccharide-induced expression of inflammatory cytokines in cultured macrophage-like cells via the inhibition of the activation of nuclear factor ?B through the repression of IKK?/? phosphorylation.
    Ohsaki Y, Shirakawa H, Miura A, Giriwono PE, Sato S, Ohashi A, Iribe M, Goto T, Komai M.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20149620

    American Journal of Epidemiology Volume167, Issue3 Pp. 313-320 2007
    [4] Vitamin K and Vitamin D Status: Associations with Inflammatory Markers in the Framingham Offspring Study
    M. Kyla Shea, Sarah L. Booth, Joseph M. Massaro, Paul F. Jacques, Ralph B. D’Agostino Sr,
    Bess Dawson-Hughes, José M. Ordovas, Christopher J. O’Donnell, Sekar Kathiresan,
    John F. Keaney Jr, Ramachandran S. Vasan and Emelia J. Benjamin
    http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/167/3/313.full

    My apologies if some of the above is very technical. However the studies do suggest that an increase in vitamin K could help.

    Best Wishes

    Stew

    • Felicia March 16, 2012, 6:28 am

      Stew, as usual, your comments are welcome and informative.

      Yesterday I was in the health store stocking up on some of my vitamins and saw vitamin K. The only reason I didn’t buy it was because in the back of my mind I remembered you mentioning vitamin K1 and K2. I couldn’t remember which one we get naturally in green leafy veggies and which one we didn’t.

      Instead I opted for Tumeric to help with the body’s inflammation, but I’d like to look further into vitamin K. Vitamin K is something I’d like to incorporate in my diet, but I’d rather supplement the form of K in which I’m deficient. Any advice?

  • melatoninsublingual July 27, 2009, 11:45 am

    my girlfriend has Asthma and this disease really annoys her. Her asthma is usually triggered by pollens or dust mite.

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