If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you or somebody you know has asthma and would like to improve the condition through natural means. If this is your position, ensure that you consult with your doctor before making any changes in medications or routines.
Asthma is an inflammatory condition that affects the respiratory system and causes difficulty breathing. While reasons for developing asthma differ for each person, methods of management tend to include steroid medication. These steroids are designed to provide relief by reducing mucus and inflammation.
Asthma medication usually comes in the form of an inhaler. Some ‘puffers’ are designed to be used as-needed in situations of respiratory distress, while others are used regularly for long-term management and reduction of inflammation. To gain a better understanding of how to naturally improve asthma, it is important to understand how it works.
While there is no cure for asthma, it can be naturally improved by addressing the underlying systems involved with asthmatic symptoms.
Inflammation is a defence mechanism that the immune system uses to protect the body against potential threats. Inflammation can manifest in an abundance of different ways, including: hives, itchiness, swelling, redness, heat, and pain. The immune system is compromised of a network of cells that govern our entire being. It works with every system of the body to strive for homeostasis. This means that it works functionally with all of the systems of the body: circulatory, digestive/excretory, endocrine, musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive, and, of course, respiratory. The immune system is not a solo entity that acts on its own accord, but a part of one large system that works synergistically.
Viewing asthma from this holistic perspective helps us to understand how making shifts in our lifestyle can have a significantly positive impact when trying to naturally improve this condition.
When nurturing the following practices with the intention of improving your asthma, it is important to give yourself time to allow inner shifts to occur, as dramatic change won’t happen over night. You should aim to cultivate a healthy, stable relationship with the following practices before attempting to potentially reduce or eliminate your need for medication. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes that may affect your wellbeing.
If you are feeling pressured to reduce your asthmatic medication, I ask you to explore where the sense of pressure is coming from. Quite often, we hold subconscious beliefs that being on medication makes you unhealthy. This belief creates an unnecessary tension and usually hinders the process of healing. Alternatively, adopting the belief that medication works with the body and supports healing will complement your process and relieve the pressure you have set on yourself.
How To Naturally Improve Your Asthma
There is evidence to suggest that decreasing the amount of dairy consumed can have profound effects on asthmatics. When the body breaks down dairy, mucus production increases. A build up of mucus in the respiratory system worsens asthmatic symptoms. Some patients have reported a significant positive shift in their asthmatic condition resulting in removing dairy through an elimination diet. If you love dairy and don’t see yourself eliminating it from your diet, avoiding it before bed may provide you with some relief, as people who suffer from asthma tend to experience worsened symptoms in the early hours of the morning and late hours of the evening.
Breathing exercises can potentially improve asthmatic symptoms. Studies suggest that breath training creates biochemical, biomechanical and psychophysiological shifts. One study suggests that “exploring sensations of breathlessness and breathing discomfort mindfully while being in a relaxed state could… be useful” in reducing hyperventilation, which worsens symptoms of asthma. Tuning into your breath can help you activate your parasympathetic nervous system (also known as the body’s ‘rest and digest’ state). When the parasympathetic nervous system is active, the immune system gets the message, ‘it’s okay to relax’.
Studies suggest that dietary antioxidants (such as vitamin A, C and manganese) may be linked with improved asthmatic symptoms. While our body is fighting off potential threats, immune cells (such as macrophages) produce free radicals. Free radicals are pro-inflammatory molecules that can cause cell damage. Antioxidants ‘mop up’ these free radical molecules, helping to cleanse the body and reduce general inflammation.
Many people (including myself) experience allergy-induced asthma. Allergic reactions can trigger asthmatic distress, as both asthma and allergies are governed mainly by the inflammatory response of the immune system. Stinging nettle is a common weed that acts as an antihistamine, making it a natural alternative to allergy medication. While allergy medication offers temporary relief, it has been suggested that stinging nettles may actually improve and reduce allergies long term. Nettle leaves lose their sting when frozen or boiled, and can easily be included in a tasty salad or a refreshing cup of tea. Before treating your allergies, it is important to remove potential triggers within your environment: mould and mites are two common allergens that are known to aggravate asthma conditions.
Many asthmatics are typically “mouth breathers”. While this may feel like the easiest way to breathe, it’s likely doing more harm than help. Think about the difference between panicked breathing versus restorative breathing… stress breathing usually happens through the mouth, while relaxed breathing is paced through the nostrils. Mouth breathing can be seen as a stress response that can trigger “fight or flight” reactions in the body and negatively affect asthma conditions. Because of this, some practitioners recommend nasal breathing exercises as part of treatment for asthma – this can be as simple as breathing mindfully through the nose several times a day.
Happy healing! x