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Respiratory Health | Natural Solutions for Asthma | Bastyr Center for Natural Health

Don’t Be Breathless! Find Natural Solutions for Asthma

Breathing is something we all take for granted until we suddenly have a hard time doing it. If you have asthma, you’ve experienced the uncomfortable struggle for air that takes place during an asthma attack. Breathing becomes labored—or impossible—as the inflamed bronchial tubes narrow and the muscles of the bronchial walls go into spasms.

It isn’t much fun, and more and more people are realizing it. The incidence of asthma has increased dramatically within the last decade, especially among young children. A 1998 study by the Centers for Disease Control indicated that asthma rates in children under five increased more than 160 percent from 1980-1994. And within the same timeframe, the prevalence of asthma increased by 75 percent for all ages. No one is certain yet about the reasons for this phenomenal growth, but environmental irritants are a prime suspect.

What causes asthma? Triggers may include pollens, pet dander, dust mites and even cockroaches.“ Over 200 indoor and occupational pollutants have been identified that can trigger a response,” says Dr. Jana Nalbandian, supervising faculty at BCNH. “These could include detergents, solvents, perfumes and other scented items.” She points out that ingested irritants can also work as triggers, such as wines, sulfites, MSG, certain medications including aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), and food additives like dyes (particularly tartrazine or metabisulfite).

The good news is that you don’t have to suffer needlessly. You can try an integrative approach to asthma management. Nalbandian offers the following suggestions for helping you breathe easier:

• Remove the obstacle: launder and dust more often, get a HEPA filter, keep the cat outdoors, stay away from tobacco smoke and smog, and read food labels more carefully.

• Cleanse the total body of anything aggravating the system. Do a food elimination diet, follow a safe detoxification program, drink lots of water, and go organic. Learn to control stress through meditation and/or appropriate exercise.

• Support the immune system to decrease the incidence of respiratory tract infections. Repair weakened or imbalanced flora in your gut.

• Stay away from saturated fats and sugars, which promote inflammation. Be aware that milk products are mucus producing and that bananas and citrus fruits can be as well. Add whole grains, berries, and colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet.

• Do yoga, breathing exercises and aerobics —anything that helps strengthen the lungs and increases their capacity.

• Take a good quality multivitamin. Include antioxidants A and C and vitamins B6 and B12. Include trace minerals like zinc, selenium and magnesium. Take omega 3 fish-oil capsules.

• Don’t quit taking your asthma medications, but talk with a natural-medicine professional about hydrotherapy, homeopathic medications, herbal supplements and botanical remedies that might lessen your level of dependence on pharmaceuticals.

• Consider seeing a practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM). Says Nalbandian, “Because AOM approaches illness from a more energetic perspective, acupuncture and Chinese botanical medicines can support the healing process on a deeper and different kind of level.”

Asthma is often a chronic condition and, because it responds well to lifestyle changes and natural therapies, Dr. Jana Nalbandian, supervising faculty at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, recommends sufferers see a naturopathic physician. “This is exactly the kind of physical challenge we’re trained to address,” she says. “I love working with patients on conditions like these. And I love seeing the results.”

Learn more about the services provided by Bastyr Center for Natural Health, or schedule your appointment today.

Sources: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (; Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (

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The health information contained in this site is not intended as medical advice and should not be considered a substitute for appropriate medical care. Any products mentioned in studies cited in Healthnotes articles are not necessarily endorsed by Bastyr. As with any product, consult with a natural health practitioner to discuss what may be best for you.


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