Pollutants, exercise, respiratory infections, industrial chemicals, pet dander and food allergies as well as severe anxiety can trigger Asthma attacks.
Normal breathing: Nasal passages humidify and clean the air inhaled, which then passes through the bronchiole tubes to the lungs where the alveoli (tiny air baloons) take in oxygen to the bloodstream, and release carbon di-oxide as waste to be exhaled.
Asthma attack: (Panting - Greek: Wheezing, coughing. Tightness in the lungs and the inability to breathe are the common symptoms.) Inflammatory cells (Eosinophils, Mast cells, Lymphocytes, Basophils, Neurtophils and Macrophages) release peroxide and other toxic protiens to kill the “invader”. The invader could be a bacterial, viral or fungal allergen, or another toxic irritant. The respiratory passages become swollen and tighten spastically. Calcium [causes muscle movement, too much or too little calcium: Spasms. No calcium: No breathing. Calcium also stimulates the Mast cell which bursts to release inflammatory chemicals] floods the cell, and Magnesium [Magnesium relaxes muscles] is drained out, the mucus formed to protect the irritated tissue blocks the already constricted airways and inhibits the absorption of oxygen by the alveoli. The chemicals released by the inflammatory cells also destroy some of the lining of the lung. Scar tissue is formed, which causes hardening and thickening of the lung lining.
Inflammation also generates free radicals which cause cell damage, causing further inflammation creating more free radicals and so on. In the lungs this negatively affects the ability to absorb oxygen, which in turn negatively affects energy production on a cellular level, thereby affecting the entire body system. The body is not only depleted of important nutrients, but also of the vital energy that it requires to restore itself. Therefore Asthmatics are fatigued and prone to frequent infections.
HERBAL THERAPIES FOR ASTHMA
By understanding the process that leads to Asthma, affording the body nutrients that alleviate inflammation as well as help repair any damage is the ideal therapy.
Omega 3 Fatty acids found in fish oils and Flax seed oil are excellent antiinflammatories. Borage and Evening Primrose oil are sources of Gamma Linoleic Acid which is an important fatty acid that converts to Omega3 oil in our body. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and reverse some of the damage. Magnesium can inhibit spasms as well as dialate bronchial vessels. Vitamins A, B [all B vitamins], C, E, Zinc, Beta carotine and Selenium are a few nutrients that need to be supplemented. Foods that are rich in these nutrients are:
Whole grains, Fish, most Fruits and Vegetables, Onions [contain Quercetin, an antiinfammatory bioflavonoid], Olive oil, dark leafy greens, sea vegetables, Green tea and Many Herbal teas.
The following are but a few herbs that benefit the respiratory passages and the lungs:
Stinging Nettles: has histamines that alleviate allergic reactions. Rich in magnesium, among other valuable vitamins and minerals, Nettles is also an excellent tonic for the Kidneys as well as the Adrenal glands.
Eleuthero: In the case of severely debilitated adrenals, Eleutheroccocus Senticosus helps normalize hormonal function.
Licorice: Has steriodal saponins that reduce inflammation. It is also great for the adrenal glands.
Ephedra: An excellent bronchiodialator, it reduces inflammation in the mucosal tissues.
Osha: It is very soothing to the mucosal lining, a great expectorant as well as antibacterial.
Lungwort: A valuable lichen, reduces inflammations and heals pulmonary tissue.
Grindelia: Stimulates the mucous membranes and is a valuable expectorant and sedative, lessening spasms.
Turmeric: An excellent antiinflammatory, inhibits prostaglandins. It is also a liver tonic, helping to flush out toxins.
Coleus forskholi: Effectively relaxes bronchial muscle.
Ginkgo: Stimulates the circulatory and nervous system, reduces platelet activating factors thus preventing allergies.
Mushrooms: Shittake, Reishi, Maitake, as well as other mushrooms benefit the immune system by boosting T cells.
Rose hips: Wonderful source of bioflavonoids and Vitamin C.
Khella: An effective antispasmodic, used for acute attacks as well as in the prevention of attacks.
The herbs listed above can be used in teas as well as tinctures. Many compounded tinctures are available today that are premixed especially for specific conditions such as Asthma.
In acute asthma attacks, Black Coffee can be employed as an effective and easily available bronchodialator which also alleviates bronchial spasms. It contains Theobromine and Theophylline, two important anti asthmatic compounds.
copyright 2004 Lata Chettri Kennedy