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WHOOPING COUGH

 

ASTHMA

When the airways, or bronchial tubes, are inflamed, when there is tightening of the muscles that coil around the bronchi that causes the cells of the lungs to produce more mucus, asthma happens. There are four common indications that someone is experiencing asthma attacks: shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain and wheezing. Since it affects the part of the body responsible for acquiring oxygen, asthma is life threatening.

In the US, millions of adults and children are suffering from asthma. There are hundreds of identifiable causes and most are related to the environment. Aside from changing one’s lifestyle, some take medications to lower the reaction of the body towards histamine, a protein in the body that is released when there is an attack of allergens. But aside from pharmacological therapies, there are alternative ways to treat asthma in the form of supplements and herbs. Below are the common herbs and supplements that could be beneficial in the treatment of asthma:

·         Pycnogenol

Pycnogenol is actually a US patent that has at least 65 percent proanthocyanidins. Proanthocyanidins are types of flavonols that has been shown to reduce problems related to coronary heart disease, allergies, asthma, soreness of the muscles, pain, ADHD as well as other problems related to the reproductive system of both the male and the female.  Although it is also found in the skin of peanuts, seeds of grapes and bark of witch hazels, pycnogenol is mainly extracted from the bark of a maritime pine tree from the coast of southwest France.

One of the approximately 170 published studies proving pycnogenol’s worth in alleviating problems of asthma is from the Arizona College of Public Health. The 22 asthmatic patients who were recruited for the study have shown that they have improved breathing abilities after a series of pycnogenol regimen. Pycnogenol is considered to be a potent antioxidant. It also has an anti-inflammatory capability; it can bind to collagen and elastin thereby providing stronger tissues and it helps in controlling nitric oxide in the endothelium, thereby strengthening the dilation of the blood vessels.

·         Quercetin

Quercetin is another type of flavonol that is distributed in nature, particularly plants like vegetables, fruits, grains and leaves. People who regularly consume vegetables, fruits and grains will usually receive between 1,000 to 2,000 mg of quercetin daily. Quercetin is beneficial to those with asthma since this plant element has the capability to impede the production of histamine, a natural chemical that is produced when one experiences allergic reaction. If histamine is blocked in its production, symptoms of allergy such as hives, watery eyes, and runny nose, which could lead to difficulty of breathing, are eliminated.

Quercetin has solid affinity to mast cells and basophils. Mast cells and basophils are actually the body’s main storage sites for histamines. If quercetin binds to these cells, it strengthens the cell membrane and slows down the spilling of histamines as the body tries to respond to inflammations, such as the causes of asthma. Although few human studies have proven its capacities, especially since it is not water soluble and it needs other enzymes to confirm its effects, its potential on lowering the symptoms of asthma is actually good.

·         Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

There used to be a hypothesis saying that the reason why, among the Americans, Eskimos have lower incidences of asthma.  This is said to be due to their high ingestion of food rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are primarily from oily fish like halibut, salmon and tuna; but it is also found in other seafood, in nuts as well as other plant food products. Some research studies were made which showed evidences that the fatty acids have effects on the substances that are involved in the inflammatory processes that will result to asthma attacks. All together though, researches related to the effects of omega-3 essential fatty acids towards the treatment of asthma is mixed. Even if it is, it is still proven that this essential fatty acid can help in alleviating the diseases that result to heart problems.

·         Magnesium

Several studies on children have shown that most of those who have asthma have low intake of magnesium. In one study, less than 15 percent of boys and girls are receiving adequate amounts of magnesium in their diet. Scientists were able to find out that those who have low intake of magnesium have high levels of histamine in their blood especially during episodes when they are exposed to conditions that causes allergies. When magnesium is low, it seems like the membranes of the cells are more permeable allowing the easy exit of histamine particularly from the mast cells and the basophils. Additionally, there are evidences that magnesium can aid in the relaxation of the smooth muscles of the lungs, a necessary process during asthma attacks.

·         Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extracts are known for its high antioxidant content. Several studies have shown that it is beneficial to those who are having edema due to injuries and surgeries. It is also helpful in diseases related to the heart, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. As a form of treatment for asthma, there are several anecdotes proving that people with increased usage of grape seed extracts have improved their breathing problems and the function of their lungs. Other symptoms related to asthma are also reduced. Since asthma is believed by some to be caused by oxidative stress due to environmental conditions, taking high amounts of grape seed extract, which is an antioxidant, can relieve the oxidative stress of asthma.

·         Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is widely known as a plant root that can help in increasing blood circulation to the brain, in oxygenating the blood and in strengthening the capillaries. This is why ginkgo biloba is popular to those who have problems with memory and poor concentration. But as it turns out, ginkgo biloba is also beneficial to those who have asthma. The leaves of gingko biloba are rich in antioxidants which prevent free radicals from causing damage to the cell membranes. If cell membranes are strong, histamines are controlled, therefore, lowering the risk of asthmatic attacks. Gingko biloba also has the capability to stop the platelet aggravating factor that induces anaphylactic symptoms.

·         Licorice

The roots of licorice are known to relieve symptoms of asthma, according to ancient Chinese medicine. It has an anti-inflammatory effect, which shrinks the swollen airways. It is also beneficial in loosening and thinning the mucus. It decreases the spasms of the bronchi which is a symptom of asthma attacks. Additionally it is an effective agent against allergic reactions.  Lastly, it is beneficial in strengthening the immune system of the body, thereby reducing the chances of having spontaneous asthma attacks.

 

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