Alternative therapies and Asthma

I had a random encounter with someone at the pool that suggested I could “cure” my asthma by engaging in a holistic breathing technique. Like many asthmatics, I had a lot of people offer me cures or if I would just not drink milk then I would not have asthma.  The link to milk for me is interesting, as I have a dairy allergy that does cause respiratory symptoms. However, it is not a main factor in my asthma and is more related to the allergic response.

As there is no current cure for asthma at this time, I am very skeptical when I hear that there are ways that I can be “cured”. I do however think that some alternative therapies get a bum wrap. At the beginning of my severe asthma diagnosis and after trying a host of traditional medicine without great improvement, I tried a bunch of alternative therapies. My main goal was not to be “cured” but to truly improve my quality of life. I started with finding a good Naturopath. I sought many recommendations from friends and found one that was super smart and works with complementing traditional medicine and other specialists. It was very important to me to find someone that wanted to collaborate my care and not disregard other care that I was receiving. I truly believe that a team approach is needed in asthma care so patients don’t get lost in the shuffle or part of strange ego competition.

After meeting with my awesome Naturopath we started with a full work up. Much of it is the same as the usual traditional medicine work. I then did a series of allergy testing, the hypoallergenic diet which I found really valuable. It turned out that I did feel better if I didn’t eat certain foods. I have a couple asthma co-morbidities, I have LPR (laryngopharyngeal reflux) and changing my diet and avoiding certain foods is the key to keeping this in control. Through a hypoallergenic diet I realized that I could be mostly symptoms free in this regard. The hypoallergenic diet, was a bit stuff at least, the diet that you can eat is very limited. The good news is that you get to reintroduce foods fairly quickly and determine if you have any reaction, or if your health is impacted. I have made some lifestyle changes that support this. I have really limited my caffeine intake and feel better. I also get a lot less prednisone “hot flashes” now. That in itself is worth it.

The other therapies that I have tried are acupuncture which I think was quite successful in dealing with my mucous hypo-secretion. I unfortunately do not have any scientific data to prove that this was beneficial but I know that I had less symptoms and improved quality of life. The downfall is that it is not long lasting; a couple weeks and you need another session. I have an absolutely wonderful Chinese medicine doc, who really works with a number of approaches. I have to admit the herbs are weird and I could not really get into them. However, I tried a few patches that claimed to help keep airways unclogged. They had mixed results…

It will be up to you if you want to try alternative therapies, however, I urge you to do your research. Get recommendations from other patients if you can. If you are considering participating in a clinical trial, check in with the study coordinator to make sure that therapies you are participating in will not exclude you from the study.

I would love to hear about your experiences with alternative therapies. My favorite alternative therapies are massage and acupuncture. These are complementary to eating a well balanced diet, getting as much exercise as possible and drinking enough water. I am certainly not cured however, I do feel like I have better quality of life.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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