Asthma is a form of allergy, actually an inflammatory allergy. And allergies are a symptom of adrenal gland dysfunction. When the adrenal glands are working properly they put out sufficient levels of immune modulating corticosteroids, and antihistamine epinephrine to counter allergic responses. Therefore, if the adrenal glands fail to put out sufficient levels of these compounds, we can develop allergic responses.
When asthmatics go to the doctor, the doctor will give the patient steroids and epinephrine, which substitute for what the adrenals are failing to put out in sufficient quantities. This brings us to the topic of the immune system. The immune system is not a single thing. It consists of many factors including the bone marrow, thymus, spleen, white blood cells, cytokines, enzymes like SOD, the adrenal glands, etc. Therefore, parts of the immune system can be suppressed, while other areas are working fine. Allergies are a good example. Most parts of the immune system is working fine. The adrenal glands though are not putting out sufficient levels of antihistamine and anti-leukotriene epinephrine and immune modulating corticosteroids.
This also helps explain why children can outgrow allergies, as I did. Children can outgrow many allergies, including asthma, generally around the age of 5 because in some cases it takes a little longer for the adrenals to fully mature.
The adrenal glands use more vitamin C than any other part of the body. Therefore, this would be the first thing to focus on. Although I do not care for synthetic vitamin C. Natural C is generally stronger, more stable and provides more benefits than synthetic vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Excellent herbal sources of vitamin C are acerola cherry, amla, rosehips, watercress and nettle leaf. Food sources include kiwis, papaya and berries.
The second most important nutrient for the adrenal glands is pantothenic acid. The highest plant source of pantothenic acid is found in bee pollen. When starting with bee pollen start out with small doses because of the risk of allergic reaction. The same applies to any time you change pollen sources since you can be allergic to one pollen source and not another.
Herbs that support the adrenal glands include schisandra berry, astragalus, nettle leaf, Siberian ginseng, suma, ashwagandha, jiaogulan (Gynostemma), and licorice root. Herbs are best taken several times daily rather than once a day. Most herbs should also be taken on an empty stomach at least 1/2 hour before meals since fats and proteins can block absorption. Although, herbal powders they can be mixed in a little unsweetened applesauce since this does not interfere with absorption.
I like making adrenal supportive candies by mixing astragalus, schisandra, pollen, amla and a little licorice root. Then I mix in vegetable glycerin until it forms a paste. I take a pinch and roll it in to a ball about the size of a pea. The candies taste like Sweet and Sour Tarts.
Remember to avoid all stimulants since these depress immune function by weakening adrenal gland function. Stimulants include caffeine, ephedrine, and nicotine, and herbs including ephedra, guarana, black tea, country mallow and bitter orange.
This can confuse some people because an old time remedy to stop an asthma attack is a strong cup of coffee. It is true that coffee, more specifically the alkaloids in coffee, will stop an asthma attack. These alkaloids; caffeine, theophylline and theobromine block the breakdown of a chemical messenger for the body known as cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). Production of cAMP counters the leukotrienes and histamine that can trigger asthma attacks. A problem though is that cAMP is very short lived in the body as is quickly broken down by a liver enzyme known as cyclic adenosine monophosphate phosphodiesterase (cAMPPDE). Caffeine, theophylline and theobromine are cAMPPDE inhibitors and therefore extend the life and actions of cAMP. This is the same reason that theophylline has been used in hospital settings to control asthma. The problem is that the consistent use stimulants deplete adrenal function and therefore levels of epinephrine and corticosteroids. In short, caffeine and related compounds can help if used occasionally when necessary, but continual use can increase the risk of asthma attacks.
Along the same line, the reason epinephrine and ephedrine stop allergic reactions such as asthma is because they elevate levels of cAMP. This counters histamine and inflammatory leukotrienes, which are about 1,000 times more stimulatory to the formation of asthma attacks that histamine.
There are herbs that can replace epinephrine and ephedrine without the stimulant effects. My favorites are zizyphus seed (suan zao ren), coleus forskohlii and nettle leaf. Zizyphus seed and coleus forskohlii both elevate cAMP levels without raising the pulse or blood pressure. Nettle leaf is a natural antihistamine by blocking cAMP breakdown and it helps support adrenal gland function.
Keep stress levels down to a minimum since stress overworks the adrenals. When it comes to stress the adrenals are designed for short term use. The adrenals are not designed for long term stimulation as occurs with the use of stimulants and chronic stress. There are various methods that can be used to control stress. For example, meditation, exercise, pets or a relaxing bath. The best choice will depend on the individual.
Steroids, such as Prednisone and steroidal inhalers, are best avoided or their use extremely limited. These drugs will help to control symptoms by reducing the inflammatory component of asthma, although they can aggravate the underlying cause. This is commonly seen as inhaler dependence. As the steroids atrophy the adrenal glands the adrenal glands produce decreased levels of steroids. When this occurs the body becomes more dependent on external sources of steroids. Therefore, as the steroidal medications atrophy the adrenal glands more of the steroidal medications are required to replace what the adrenals are failing to produce in sufficient levels.
Magnesium deficiencies are common in asthmatics, and magnesium is very useful in the treatment of asthma. Magnesium relaxes the smooth muscle of the lungs by displacing calcium, thereby helping to prevent the spasming of the lung muscles. Because magnesium works by displacing calcium, it is important that the magnesium be taken in the absence of calcium. It also helps to take the magnesium on an empty stomach at least 1/2 hour before meals. If you take a calcium-magnesium supplement it should be taken at a different time of day. Recommended dose of magnesium is 300mg twice daily on an empty stomach. Pre-acidified forms of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate or malate, are better absorbed and more effective.
A simple formula can be made to stop asthma attacks. Mix 1 ounce of coleus forskohlii tincture, ½ ounce of yerba mate’ tincture and a ¼ ounce of lobelia tincture. Mix well and put once ounce of the mixture back in to one of the tincture bottles. At the very first sign of an asthma attack I recommend squirting a dropper full or two of the tincture under the tongue and hold under the tongue. Forskohlii raises cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels like ephedra or epinephrine also do, but while lowering the pulse and blood pressure unlike ephedra and epinephrine. So it is much safer than ephedra, ephedrine, or epinephrine. Yerba mate’ blocks the breakdown of cAMP. Lobelia acts as a smooth muscle relaxant to prevent lung spasming.