When it comes to life threatening medical conditions, asthma can be one of the most frightening.
Not only can an asthma attack hit suddenly, there are few methods, other than emergency inhalers that will act fast enough to open the airways. To add insult to injury, preventing asthma attacks can be very difficult if you don’t know what is causing them or if they have gone on for a long time and caused scarring and other damage to the airways and deeper lung tissue.
Did you know that many of the drugs you have come to rely on are actually being made in China?
While this is, yet another topic that isn’t sufficiently covered in mainstream news, the fact is the growing trade war with China could disrupt the supply of many drugs that you are dependent on. Regardless of whether or not you started taking these drugs for the right diagnosis or not, your body is still dependent on them. In some cases, such as with steroids, opioids, and drugs aimed at suppressing the immune system, the process of stopping them involves a slow, tedious weaning process. If you wind up in a situation where these drugs are no longer available, it can cost your life even if nothing else is actually wrong with you.
No matter whether you suffer from allergies or asthma that requires medical intervention, it is very important to know what to do when conventional drugs and care are not available. If you are going to try any of the methods presented in this article, make sure that you discuss them with your doctor first. It will also be a good thing to have a certified competent (to handle your condition) medical provider on-hand in case you get into problems. When you cannot breathe, it can take only a few minutes before you can no longer act to manage the condition on your own or for someone else to be able to help you. Do not experiment unless you are in the presence of someone that has both the tools (such as airway protectors and suitable fast acting injectable drugs) and experience to restore your breathing. Once you know what you are doing and whether or not these methods will work, you can consider yourself one step closer to being able to manage an asthma related attack or other allergy in a situation where the drugs you rely on now are not available.
Asthma: It’s Not All About Allergies
Most people consider asthma to be either caused by an allergy or something else. Non-allergy related causes of asthma might include exercise that is too strenuous for a specific individual, sudden exposure to cold air, consuming aspirin, having a cold or the flu, and being exposed to a known constrictor of the bronchial passages. This might include anything from exposure to certain metals, fumes, and food additives.
Over the last few years, a lot of information has been coming out about the hazards associated with vaccines. Not surprisingly, many people claim that asthma must also be caused by vaccines because ingredients within them trigger the immune system. For example, if a vaccine contains components from egg yolk, then it would make sense that some people would develop an allergy to eggs because of the vaccine, which would then trigger an asthma attack. At this time, most medical professionals and researchers claim that there are many studies that prove the link between increased allergies caused by vaccines and asthma does not exist.
Because many scientific studies are fudged or falsified, the best thing you can do is be aware of the situation and keep an eye on retraction sites. Pay careful attention to the authors and researchers involved in studies associated with disproving the links between vaccines and asthma. If they or researchers in the same university or funded from the same organization wind up being censured for fake information, there is a chance these studies have been impacted as well.
It is fair to say that many people who suffer from asthma do, in fact have, allergies to things that would not bother other people. For example, if consuming peanuts causes you to stop breathing or have an asthma attack, this would be an allergy in the conventional sense. It is also important to realize that food, pollen, dust, and other allergic reactions may not occur immediately or at a level of severity that will always cause an asthma attack. In some cases, it can take hours to days after being exposed to an allergen before you have an asthma attack.
On the other side of the equation, there are many things being labeled as allergies or “work exposure related” these days that aren’t actually an “unhealthy” response. Rather, they are simply your body trying to warn you that a dangerous to deadly toxin is present and you must take steps to keep it out of your body. From this perspective, you could even say that asthmatics that trigger because of these toxins and pollutants are like canaries in the coal mine. Eventually, what they are getting “sick” from will impact all of us the same way as the amount of these pollutants in the water, food, and air increase.
Understanding Airborne Triggers
There are two basic kinds of airborne triggers for asthma. First, very small to microscopic particles can get into the bronchial passages of your lungs and trigger both a swelling and tightening response. When you think of airborne allergies, these are the ones most commonly tested for. Pollen, dust, mites, mold, mildew, soot, and other particle based pollutants can all serve as asthma triggers for someone with a sensitivity to them. In the last few years, researchers have done a lot of work on trying to find ways to suppress the immune system since it is virtually impossible to avoid allergens at all times. Unfortunately, these drugs have side effects that include an increased risk for developing certain cancers, increased risk for developing viral or parasitic infections, heart problems, and blood vessel problems.
Different kinds of gasses are the second kind of airborne trigger for asthma. This could be anything from paint fumes to ozone or any one of thousands of chemicals released into the air by motor vehicles and industrial activity. Because there are billions to trillions of dollars flowing from consumer wallets and taxpayer funded government subsidies into these industries, it should come as no surprise there are no concrete tests for determining if an asthma reaction is being caused by the presence of these gasses in the air. The only way to really find out is to take steps to eliminate as much exposure to these gasses as possible and see if that helps your condition.
Fortunately, you can solve both particulate and gas related problems using the same solutions. Here are two essential items you will need, and one that is somewhat optional.
- The first thing you will need to do is control the air quality in the places where you spend the most time. Since most gasses are filtered out by activated carbon, you can simply install furnace filters containing activated carbon on a box fan. Do not forget to add at least a MERV-13 filter or greater on the fan in order to capture particulate matter. If you work in an office setting, try to have a fan near your desk and other areas where you spend a lot of time.
- There are always going to be times when you have to be in a place for a relatively short period of time and cannot control the air quality. For example, most stores are notorious for having cleaning and personal care aisles filled with deadly chemicals that also trigger asthma attacks.
No matter whether air fresheners set you off or the fragrances used in certain shampoos, there is no way for an individual to make a store stop selling these products. Perhaps, over time, as more consumers are harmed by these chemicals and the evidence mounts up, these toxins will finally fall out of favor with consumers, which will cause manufacturers to stop producing them. Regardless of the nature of these chemicals, most, if not all of them can also be filtered out of the air using activated carbon. In this case, all you have to do is wear a disposable breathing mask that contains activated carbon. There are many different designs and styles to choose from including medical grade masks that also filter out pathogens. Just remember, however, in some states it is illegal to cover your face, so if you want to wear a mask for medical purposes, you will need to get a letter from your doctor and keep it with you. Needless to say, as with gun grabber laws that do more harm than good, this is also an area where informed and concerned preppers should exercise the power of the vote to elect politicians that will get rid of these laws.
In order to gauge the effectiveness of removing particulate matter from your home, it will be of some help to have an air quality meter that checks for particulate matter levels. Since these monitors can be fairly expensive, you can cut your cost in half by building a similar device using an arduino controller. As an added bonus, if you decide to build an arduino based system, you can also purchase additional sensors to detect the presence of gasses that you suspect may be in the air and triggering asthma attacks. In a situation where both items are outside of your budget, you can look at free weather based apps and websites that give information about pollen counts, ozone, and particulate matter outside your home. Usually, the level of particulate matter is higher indoors because of reduced airflow.
More than a few people that would have been helped by long term use of air filtration systems and masks give up because they do not gain immediate relief from asthma attacks. It is very important to realize that both chemical and particulate based triggers can stay in your lungs for some time. Gasses can also be absorbed into the bloodstream and circulate for days, weeks, or even months before they are finally filtered out.
When you make any kind of change to the air quality in your home, give it at least 3 – 4 months before you conclude it isn’t working. This is especially important if you notice changes in air quality when you move from one location to another, or seem to at least breathe more easily when you are in a location with cleaner air. Aside from getting the materials triggering asthma attacks out of your lungs, the bronchial tissue itself may be swollen, and will take time to return to a healthier condition. Depending on the severity of the inflammation, this can also take months to over a year.
Food Triggers Hidden in Strange Places
It is fair to say that the definition of food has stretched well beyond any kind of reasonable proportion. The vast majority of items people eat and drink these days are not made from organic materials let alone free of toxic chemicals. In fact, even if you buy fresh produce and fresh meat, you never really know what was sprayed on it or how it was processed. Sadly, many of the hidden chemicals that you are consuming with or without knowing it can trigger asthma attacks.
As with air based triggers, it can take several months before the offending chemicals are finally out of your system. In this case, you will need to wait at least 4 – 6 months before you see maximum improvement. If you eat something with even a tiny amount of the offending chemical in the meantime, it may start that clock all over again. Remember, even traces amounts of peanut or other allergens can be fatal to someone that has a severe reaction to them. In a similar way, you may not think “one tiny bit” or a drop of an allergen will trigger an asthma attack all over again for several days to months. The sad reality is it can, in fact, take that long for even a small amount of allergen to be eliminated from your body.
Here are three places where you may be exposed to both known and unknown food allergens without realizing it:
- Dairy products – If you have an image in your mind of cute dairy cows lazily grazing in grass pastures, you have absolutely no sense of how the vast majority of milk is produced in the United States. In reality, cows on commercial dairy farms rarely see the light of day let alone consume fresh grass. Depending on the farm, they may have permanent holes cut into their stomach (fistulation) so that it is easier to pump in hormones, fattening agents, and antibiotics. Dairy cows are also fed all kinds of “byproduct” from other industries. This can include everything from sawdust to the remains of other animals. Even though a cow does not normally eat meat, the pellets of animal protein may still be used as food for them.
If you have ever lived on a farm or been around cows living in a natural setting, then you know that it is important to keep buttercups and onions out of the field or the milk produced by the cow will be sour. Even though there is no “scientific research” on this matter, the well known fact about buttercups souring milk should give you some ideas about how hidden allergens can make their way into just about every dairy product on the market.
In this case, only one or two molecules in the buttercups or onions might be responsible for souring the milk as opposed to the entire plant. By the same token, if you have an allergy to peanuts or some other food, it isn’t likely that you are allergic to every single molecule in the peanut. Rather, it may be just one or two molecules that give you problems. Interestingly enough, as with the molecules in buttercups that make their way into cow’s milk, there is no real way to know which molecules from what a cow eats find their way into the milk.
Remember, the cow does not make milk so you can drink it, they make milk so that calves can obtain suitable nutrition and also get a sample of real world molecules that will need to be digested. Unfortunately, we know very little about how a cow’s digestive system matures. If a food is not natural to them, it seems entirely possible that the cow might pass along a larger number of unchanged molecules so that the calf has a better chance of developing whatever it needs to break the molecules down into something usable or pass it safely out of the body.
This is just one possible way that asthma triggering molecules in the cow’s food may get into your food without you realizing it. No matter whether you are consuming dairy products from organic, commercial, or even “free ranging” cows there is no real way to know what they have been eating or the chemicals being secretly pumped into them. The only way to be assured your dairy products do not contain hidden asthma inducing agents is to raise the cows yourself. Needless to say, zoning and other laws that prohibit raising cows and other dairy animals need to be changed immediately. As a means to spur action, the best thing you can do is stop buying dairy products and educate as many others to take up the same action until the farms change their feeding practices.
- While very little is said about the increasing number of GMO plants being sold in supermarkets, the fact remains you are dealing with a plant that isn’t natural to the world that your body was born into. To add insult to injury, many of these GMO plants incorporate genes that originated in bacteria that produce pesticides and herbicides right inside the plant. As researchers are finding out with Crispr, a fairly new gene therapy, it isn’t always possible to tell what a cell will do upstream and downstream of a genetic insertion. Let’s say you are allergic to one protein produced by peanuts. Now let’s also say that this protein is only produced by peanuts, however the cellular template for it is sitting in strawberries, grapes, and bananas. If the GMO strawberries, grapes, and bananas turn on the template for making the protein you are allergic to, what do you think will happen? Naturally enough, if the protein is present, then you will have a bad reaction to it even though you haven’t consumed any peanuts. Sadly, there may not even be any data available on the long term consequences of adding genetic information from one organism into another one. While GMO manufacturers may claim they have proof these changes are not occurring, do not forget that scientists fudge data every day, and peer review may not occur, or the reviewers may even have been paid to accept falsified data. As with hidden allergens in dairy products, the best thing you can do is grow your own plant based foods from certified heirloom non-GMO seeds. Since GMO manufacturers have a lot of money and lobbyists behind them, and politicians routinely use their wealth to avoid consuming GMO foods, it is unlikely laws will change to favor consumers and consumer health. You can, and should immediately vote with your wallet. Insofar as laws go, focus on getting rid of laws at the local level that prevent you from growing your own foods sustainably at home.
- If you thought unprocessed meats were free of possible contaminants that trigger asthma, you may be exposing yourself to just as many problems as with dairy, grain, fruit, and vegetable based foods. In this case, you must never forget that chickens and many other meat products are being shipped to China for processing. Aside from the fact you never know what else they are processing on those machines, you also never know what is being injected into the meat. For example, some chicken parts are at least 5% salt water. In a similar fashion, it is difficult, if not impossible to know for sure what other meats are being injected with. Considering how melamine got into animal food years ago that was processed in China, you never know if asthma causing chemicals are being injected into the meat or being used to process it. Other than raising animals for meat or hunting, your only other option is to choose a vegan diet and be sure to grow all foods at home. Once again, you must also look at your local laws and find out what regulations are in place to prevent you from raising your own food. As with all the other unduly burdensome laws at all levels of government, only your votes on election day, and your spending choices every day can create positive change.
Stress, Emotions, and Asthma
When it comes to understanding the causes of asthma, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest emotions play a role for some people. Stress, grief, and even anger can bring on asthma attacks in some people. In some cases, stress and strong emotions may actually be caused by a situation you are dealing with. You can also wind up with increased emotional responses because of chemicals found in various foods. As a result, there are many different ways to manage stress or emotionally related triggers to asthma. These options include:
- Knowing which foods trigger stress responses and avoiding them. Not surprisingly, processed foods, which also contain known asthma triggers also increase the amount of psychological stress that you experience.
- Seek counseling – today, there are many community based counselors that can help you with specific problems or general stress related issues. Aside from purely psychological services, you may also want to seek help from members of the clergy or outreach groups dedicated to specific causes of stress and distress in your life.
- Use breathing and other meditation exercises. The options here are truly endless and can easily be integrated into any belief system. No matter whether you choose to use binaural beats, breathing exercises, or even guided spiritual meditations, the focus is always yours to choose. If one option does not give you a focus you feel comfortable with, you can always modify the meditation script or look for something else more suitable. As long as you are able to relax your breathing and your mind, these exercises can help with alleviating stress and other emotional triggers for asthma.
- Some breathing routines can also be used to reduce asthma flare ups and manage emergencies. If you have an emergency inhaler and experience a flare up, do not waste time trying to use something other than the inhaler. Work with someone skilled in emergency medicine and who has the proper tools and medicines on-hand if you want to try these exercises during an actual asthma attack. At the very least, if you can’t help yourself, someone else will be there to help you through it.
What About Herbal Remedies?
As I have written in the past, cradle to grave herbal remedies aren’t likely to lead to lasting wellness any more than cradle to grave allopathic drugs. That being said, both groups of treatments have their uses as long as you remain committed to searching for the underlying cause of your medical conditions and seeking to resolve those matters. In many cases, if you dig deeply enough into environmental factors or lifestyle choices, you will solve at least half your problem, if not all of it. Here are some herbs you can try when medicines are not available and you are unable to work on avoiding asthma triggers. Do not forget to do your research and make sure these herbs will not interfere with other drugs or herbs you may be taking. It is also very important to make sure you understand their side effects as well as their impact on all body systems.
- Marshmallow root – if you have a bad cough or a lot of phlegm, marshmallow root can help alleviate those problems. Allow at least 2 – 3 hours between taking marshmallow root and other herbs or drugs because it can slow down absorption of other molecules.
- Turmeric – as the third most popular herbal remedy on the markets today, it should come as no surprise that Turmeric is also listed as useful for treating asthma. It acts as an anti-inflammatory. If your bronchial passages are swollen and irritated, Turmeric can help relieve this problem. Use with caution, as there is considerable controversy over how it works and what it interferes with.
- Mullein – one of the most common herbal remedies for asthma. It can also be used to help stave off respiratory infections that can lead to increased asthma attacks and flare ups.
- Ginger – as with turmeric, ginger is a member of the bamboo family and an anti-inflammatory. This is an excellent anti-inflammatory that also relieves stomach problems. If your asthma is related to acid reflux, ginger may be more useful to you than turmeric since it addresses both inflammation and stomach irritation.
- Oregano – many people suffering from asthma can tell you that a lot of their problems seem to start in the sinuses. Oregano is one of the few herbs that actively works in sinus tissue and can get rid of sinus infections. You can use it as a tea or diffuse it into the air. If you choose to use it in the air, do not let cats or other pets into the room. Over time, oregano and many other herbal infusions can cause liver damage in some animals. Needless to say, for your own safety, never diffuse uncut essential oils or oil combinations that aren’t expressly made for that purpose. There are many different kinds of carrier oils on the market as well as concentrations of the main ingredient. Just as an example, oregano that is meant to be used as a tea should not be mixed up with some water and tossed into a diffuser. Different carriers have different effects and should only be used based on what part of the body they are being applied to.
Getting Away From Steroids and Other Drugs
If you find that you cannot seem to stay off prednisone or other steroid based drugs, then it may be of some use to see an endocrinologist. Unfortunately, the amount of prednisone used to stop asthma attacks translates to much more cortisol than your body makes naturally. Since your body reads this amount of steroid as too much, it may stop making its own. Depending on the amount of time you have been on prednisone, you may need a slower taper to manage adrenal insufficiency.
Insofar as other drugs used to treat asthma, you should never go off them “cold turkey”. Take the time to look at all side effects from the drugs you are on. If they increase the risk of developing sinus infections or impact some other part of the body, seek advice from specialists in those fields in conjunction with a pulmonologist. No matter whether you are trying to get off herbal remedies used at “therapeutic levels” or allopathic drugs, your body will go through stages of adjustment. It is best to work with specialists that will understand your symptoms and will run tests to find out what is actually going on.
Prednisone and cortisol production problems is a case in point. Since cortisol is used by the body to reduce inflammation, a lack of this hormone can wreak havoc. Where your pulmonologist may not think you have been on prednisone long enough to suppress cortisol production, and endocrinologist can run the appropriate tests and find out for a fact. If you do have reduced adrenal function, then you can look into options for managing adrenal issues as well as asthma remedies that don’t rely on steroids. This includes working with the endocrinologist to ensure you have the right amount of cortisol in your body and looking into dietary changes that will support adrenal function and healing.
Asthma is a complicated disease that can be deadly even in the best of times. While there are many different treatment options for this disease, you cannot and should not ignore the possibility that not all asthmatic responses are in fact, a “disease”. Now, as well as in a time of major crisis, pollution and deadly toxins are likely to increase to a point where people who aren’t currently considered asthmatics will find themselves unable to breathe because their bronchial passages have become too constricted. It is very important to know how to get your breathing passages to open up again without the use of emergency inhalers or other medications that may not be available in a time of need. It is also very important to know how to safeguard your lungs and the rest of your body as much as possible from both easily recognized and hidden asthma triggers.