Asthma is a huge health problem worldwide. Here in the U.S. about 8% of the population has asthma—around 25 million people—including many children. And it’s a problem on the rise.
SET-DB™ practitioners are concerned with addressing the root causes of many of their patients and clients health concerns, not just giving them something for symptom relief. With asthma, I believe the root cause is immune dysfunction of the hyperactivity or hyperreactivity type, as opposed to autoimmunity or weakened immunity.
You’ve seen me write many times that a sensitivity to anything can cause a symptom anywhere in the body. Which is why I recommend having patients go through treatment programs instead of asking you to try and guess what food or environmental substances are causing or contributing to their symptoms.
Not everyone will agree to go through a complete treatment program and some practitioners, for reasons I can’t understand, chose not to offer them, so in the next three posts I will outline a recommended treatment approach for people suffering from asthma.
I’d like to suggest four potential asthma triggers.
1. Food Sensitivities
Diet is, of course, one of the biggest triggers for asthma, as well as many other conditions. The most common food sensitivities are (no big surprise) gluten and diary. Unfortunately for most patients, they have no idea that gluten or dairy can trigger their symptoms because their primary physicians simply don’t know they could be part of the problem. Probably 99% of asthma sufferers are only treated with palliative medications. (I’m not implying they aren’t needed, only that little or nothing is done to look for causation. “You have asthma. Take these medications.”)
Let’s say a patient reads something that suggests gluten can cause asthma symptoms in some people and asks their doctor about it. Even if the doctor listens to them and orders tests, all they’d look for would be alphagliadin in the stool and possibly an enzyme called tissue transglutaminase. (Many doctors will not diagnose celiac disease unless these two tests are positive.) These markers are commonly elevated in people with gluten intolerance, but certainly not always. However, there are other proteins, and metabolites of proteins, in gluten foods they could and usually do react to.
What happens then is most people are sent away from with the assurance they do not have a problem with gluten, when in fact they do. They keep eating it and it keeps causing asthma (and other) symptoms.
This is what makes the Gluten/Gliadin, Grains, and Wheat Digestion BioSurveys so important. Together they contain 107 items, many components of gluten foods, patients need to be checked and treated for if necessary.
And then there’s dairy, which people with asthma are often sensitive to (especially children). Medical testing for dairy sensitivity isn’t very good, if it’s done at all. Physicians knowledgable about gluten or dairy sensitivity might tell their patients to eliminate them from their diet for ninety days to see if their symptoms improve. If the symptoms do improve, and they reintroduce dairy or gluten back into their diet and feel worse, they know they can’t eat it anymore.
If you’ve been on an elimination diet, or have supervised some, you know they are fraught with pitfalls. One, they’re difficult for most people to adhere to—the failure rate is high—because so many people are used to eating out now. The vast majority of people in the U.S. eat at a fast food restaurant at least once a day. Gluten and dairy abound in restaurant food. Two, most people don’t know that gluten- and dairy-containing ingredients are hidden in many foods. So even if they’re eating at home, they’re likely using supermarket products that contain gluten or dairy. The end result is, they feel the elimination diet didn’t help them much and so think gluten and dairy are okay to keep consuming.
It’s so much better to be treated for gluten and dairy sensitivities with SET-DB™.
Also, did you know that about half of celiac sufferers are also sensitive to dairy? They continue to suffer even after eliminating gluten from their diet.
As I said earlier, any food can trigger or aggravate asthma symptoms. One mechanism is through a leaky gut (also called intestinal permeability). Incompletely digested foods, or foods complexed with immune cells, find their way into areas of the body they shouldn’t be in. Some enter the portal vein, then the liver. If they make it past the liver they’ll go right to the lungs, which act as a secondary filter. The lungs may suffer circulating immune complex-triggered inflammation.
Lastly, let’s talk about histamine, an important mediator of the immune system (also called a signaling molecule). Symptoms common to hayfever sufferers are largely caused by too much histamine being released into the lining of their upper respiratory tract and eyes, as well as into the bloodstream.
Histamine is responsible for two main effects in an inflammatory response: dilating blood vessels and making them more permeable to allow more fluid to pass from the bloodstream into the tissues. This allows for immune reinforcements to arrive, but also results in localized swelling, edema, and redness.
Eliminating sensitivities, especially airborne irritants, reduces histamine release and helps relieve asthma symptoms. But did you know histamine is also found in food? This is another way foods can trigger asthma symptoms. Treatment for histamine sensitivity is addressed in two BioSurveys we’ll discuss in a later post.
2. Environmental Antigens and Toxins
Most, but certainly not all, asthma sufferers are sensitive to things like trees, weeds, grass, dust, mold, and the other categories found in the Hayfever Treatment Package. These substances can have a bigger impact on asthma symptoms because they are inhaled directly into the respiratory system.
This area also includes toxins, some we get exposed to without our permission and some we can only blame ourselves for as we purposefully bring them into our home or work environment. Examples can be found in common household cleaners and personal care products, mold or dust mites we’ve neglected to eliminate or prevent from populating, products purchased to eradicate insects or unwanted plants, or any of thousands of other products made for the home or work.
We’re exposed to incredibly large amounts of toxins in our environment these days and we are unaware of most of that exposure. Companies produce more than 6.5 trillion pounds of over 9,000 different chemicals today. A staggering amount.
These toxins can play a significant role in chronic disease conditions, including asthma. Obviously we should we our best to avoid them when we can. Exposure in our homes and businesses that we own is largely under our control. We can use non- or less-toxic products, purchase air and water filters, and use personal care products free of harsh ingredients. But when we go outside or visit places not under our control, we are exposed to large amounts of environmental irritants and toxins. This exposure has a much greater negative effect on asthma sufferers.
SET-DB™ can eliminate sensitivities to these substances and thus can help reduce symptoms, significantly in some cases. But, a toxin is still a toxin and should be avoided when possible.
3. Digestive Problems
We briefly discussed leaky gut earlier. The gut doesn’t become leaky for no reason so it’s important to consider its causes. Here are some possible causes:
We’ll discuss this further in a future post.
This is a broad topic, no doubt. The connection between stress and immune dysfunction has been known for thousands of years. Stress impacts the immune system in many ways and is widely deemed to be a notable trigger for autoimmune disease. And fibromyalgia. I think most of my fibromyalgia patients could trace the beginning of the condition back to an especially stressful time in their life. Death of a loved one, severe illness, an accident or injury, etc.
Who hasn’t noticed that they’re more prone to come down with something when they’re stressed? Students are more susceptible to illness when finals are approaching. It’s obvious stress impacts the immune system.
Disrupted or inadequate amounts of sleep can stress the immune system. About one-third of people now get fewer than six hours of sleep a night. In the 1960s that number was about two percent. Sleep depravation can lead to cortisol dysfunction: too little or too much produced or at the wrong times. Inflammation goes up and immune regulation gets disrupted.
So these are four major triggers of asthma: food sensitivities, environmental antigens and toxins, digestive problems, and stress. In the next post we’ll further discuss a SET-DB™-oriented approach to asthma.
Dr. Teryl Boothe and selected guests.