When I was a young kid, I thought Asthma, the respiratory disease, was something you were born with and that there was nothing you could do about it. I felt they were so misfortuned. I may have watched too many Japanese soap operas when I was a kid. 🙂 I don’t know of any kids who had asthma from my district even though I grew up in Tokyo with Photochemical smog. However, as I started working, one of my colleagues who was young and seemed like a healthy, lean, and athletic man, had an asthma attack one day at work. I was so shocked and wondered why. Now per the CDC, about 1 in 12 people (about 25 million) have asthma, and the numbers are increasing every year. (1)
The last a couple of decades, the number of people who have been diagnosed with asthma has increased drastically. This is quite a serious epidemic. Many researchers believe that multiple environmental factors may have played a role in this increase. These include improvements in hygiene, eradication of most parasitic worm infections, changes in home heating and ventilation, and a decline in physical activity and alterations in diet due to lifestyle changes. (2)
Many Functional Medicine doctors look into your gut first because asthma is an inflammatory disease, and many of them believe that Inflammation is at the root of the problem. Asthma is associated with changes in the gut flora which helps regulate the immune/inflammatory response. Dr. Mark Hyman, a well-known functional medicine doctor, shares his experience with a patient who had server allergic reaction in his blog. This 42 years old (at that time) women was taking 42 different medications, which were trying to suppress the inflammation. So, what Dr. Hyman did was he ran some tests in order to understand exactly what was irritating her immune system. Are there food allergies, environmental allergens, toxin or mold? Is there something wrong with the bacteria and microbes in her gut? What about her stress level and her diet? Then Dr. Hyman found that she had celiac disease, which turned out to be the root cause of her asthma. He treated her by cleaning up her gut and adding good bugs into her gut. After 6 weeks, this patient was off from all the medications and had no symptoms, no allergies, no hives, and no asthma. Isn’t it amazing??? (3)
Actually, this Gut-Asthma relationship has been studied by many researchers, and this past September, a study published in Nature Medicine, said that “Abnormal gut microbiota communities present in some 1-month-old infants promote inflammation that results in an almost threefold increased risk of developing allergies by age 2 and developing signs of asthma by age 4.”. Scientists have found that those infants are missing four types of gut bacteria, possessed abnormally high levels of certain resident fungal species, and key anti-inflammatory lipids were absent and asthma-associated bad lipid, “12, 13 DIHOME” is found instead in the guts of at-risk babies. (4,5)
The researchers haven’t concluded this study, but they believe that environmental factors, such as C-section delivery, formula fed instead of breast-feeding, and antibiotic on pregnant mother are very closely related to these loss of microbes. According to one estimate, these modern practices have resulted in the human body losing up to 50% of its original microbial diversity. So, the team also plans to conduct a similar study with another cohort, taking into account these environmental factors that could influence the development of the gut microbiota. (5)
So, what we can do to improve asthma symptoms? Follow Dr. Hyman’s protocol. (3)
- Do an elimination diet to get rid of the most common food allergens. Gluten and dairy are the biggest culprits!
- Avoid environmental toxins such as food additives, mold, pestisides, pollution
- Take antifungal herbs such as oregano, garlic, cloves (more on http://www.naturalnews.com/047721_antifungal_herbs_natural_medicine_Candida.html)
- Take probiotics (2015 study confirmed that newborn mice inoculated with those four key bacteria FLVR-Lachnospira, Veillonella, Faecalibacterium, and Rothia-developed less severe asthma later in life, indicating that the bacteria protected against asthma.), fish oil, and Zinc Citrate
Also, you might want to take look at Dr. Chris Kresser’s blog about allergy treatment.
If you are women and are planning to have a baby, clean up your gut and stay away from antibiotics. Having a natural birth and feeding your baby with your nutritious breast milk helps make high quality bugs that will keep your baby from developing allergies and asthma. Oh, one more finding, if you are a dog lover, a baby growing up with a dog has less chance to develop asthma.