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Asthma is thought to affect five million people in Britain and one million of these are children. Asthma is a chronic condition that makes breathing difficult. During an asthma attack the small breathing tubes become inflamed. They narrow and can become so swollen that they almost close. Asthma can quickly become life threatening and treatment is aimed at preventing severe attacks. There are many factors or triggers that can cause attacks. Finding your trigger(s) is important and provides an opportunity to minimise your unique risk. Triggers include chemicals, house dust, pollen, pet hair, moulds, dairy and wheat allergies, stress, weather conditions, viral or bacterial infection and sulphites in wine. Some anti-inflammatory drugs are also known triggers.
Maintaining a healthy immune system is important so that each individual is able to cope with an allergy load without succumbing to an asthma episode. Research indicates that low hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach can predispose to fungal and other infections. With natural healing there is always an emphasis on developing a strong digestive system, including balancing stomach acid levels. The harsh reality is that the huge rise in chemicals used in everyday life is probably the main cause of the escalating numbers of sufferers. Over 75,000 chemicals have been created in the last 60 years. It will never be possible to isolate each one to determine personal risk. The onus is really upon us all to minimise exposure and develop as many healthy daily practices as possible.
Potential Link between childhood asthma & chlorine in swimming pools
A recent study by Professor Alfred Bernard, Brussels (July 18th 2006, Guardian newspaper) found that there may be some link between a rise in childhood asthma and swimming pools - particularly in Britain (where we also have more indoor pools). This research is still ongoing, but one thing that is known is the damage chlorine does to the lungs. A by-product of chlorination is trichloramine gas (which produces the distinctive chlorine smell). This gas goes straight into the lungs when inhaled and damages tissue. If you are concerned about your child or infant, particularly if they already have asthma or respiratory problems, then avoid chlorinated pools. Some swimming pools use non-chlorine alternatives, like silver or ozone. These keep the pool just as hygienic. For the full article, visit www.guardian.co.uk/medicine.
Foods & herbs for the home
- Wheat and diary products can contribute to excessive mucus production in individuals, so minimise or eliminate these foods.
- Some asthma sufferers have been found to be low in magnesium; a good quality magnesium supplement may help you.
- The gut contains a high proportion of the body's immune cells, and the gut flora interact with these to maintain a healthy immune system. Ensure gut flora levels are adequate to boost your gut immunity. Indicators of poor digestive health, such as chronic constipation, may affect gut flora or be an indication that there is a poor balance of healthy flora. Try a course of good quality non-dairy probiotics.
- Include 1-3 cloves of garlic in your diet each day as this food fights infection.
- Meadowsweet Tea and apple cider vinegar are two inexpensive products that over time will help to balance low hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach.
- General lung herbs can be mixed to provide overall lung support. Breathe & Clear is one such formula in a pleasant tea form.
- Avoid airborne chemicals in the home and bedroom and instead use natural Home Cleaners designed to actively promote health.
- Gentle and regular detox programmes that support the bowel and liver will have an effect on the lungs. Dr Richard Schulze provides inspiration in his free book "There are No Incurable Diseases" that you are welcome to download.
- Specialised breathing exercises can be most effective to develop and strengthen lung capacity. You may want to learn techniques with the supervision of a Buteyko practitioner.
- Take general exercise under guidance.
- Take relaxing baths and include essential oils such as Camphor and Cajuput that open the breathing. Hot and cold showers can also assist breathing. Adding Epsom salts will enable the skin to absorb magnesium; this mineral may be low in some asthma sufferers.
- There are many herbs that have a profound effect on breathing. Many of these are available on prescription from qualified herbal practitioners who have also been trained in natural healing methods. You can find one by linking on to professional websites such as The Association of Master Herbalists.
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