Teresa Fuller MD, PhD
While spring is a welcome relief from the cold and dreary winter for many of us, it can be a time of misery for children suffering with asthma. The blooming of trees with the accompanying pollen trigger wheezing, coughing, and other unwelcome symptoms for a rising number of children with asthma. Asthma now affects 1 in 11 children. The incidence has been rising over the past few decades, with an increase of 15% just in the past decade.
The conventional medical approach to asthma is to relieve the symptoms as much as possible with the use of bronchodilators and steroids. Bronchodilators open the airways, while steroids suppress the inflammatory response that the body produces to harmless stimuli, such as pollen from flowers and weeds. The other approach is to identify the child’s triggers and avoid them. But so many triggers, such as pollen, mold and dust mites are impossible to completely avoid. While these are necessary treatments to control asthma symptoms, how about getting to the root causes of symptoms to help the body stop “overreacting” to these stimuli in the first place? Here are four strategies of a holistic approach to asthma treatment that can reduce or even stop asthma at its root.
Feed your child an anti-inflammatory diet
Asthma is an inflammatory disease, which means that the body’s immune system is fired up, trying to battle the environmental assaults. An anti-inflammatory diet is one that can help “calm the fire.” This is a diet rich in antioxidants and free of foods that further inflame the system. Therefore, your child’s diet needs to be rich in natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. These plant foods provide an abundant supply of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. On the other hand, you want to rid your child’s diet of inflammatory foods such as artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners found in many so-called “kid-friendly” foods. White sugar and white flour products are also inflammatory. And dairy products are a frequent source of inflammation for many children with asthma.
Have your child tested for underlying contributors to asthma
This is an area that most conventional approaches neglect. It’s now becoming more common to test asthmatic children for allergies, but that’s just one of a number of underlying causes of asthma attacks. Many children with asthma have underlying mineral deficiencies, magnesium deficiency being a common one. Some children with asthma also have a build-up of toxic substances in their bodies that are further contributing to inflammation. Other children may have unrecognized infections. These can be tested for in order to create an individualized treatment plan for your child.
Provide your child with proper supplementation
Based on the testing above, your physician can determine which supplements your child may need to correct those nutritional deficiencies and imbalances. Many children with asthma may require nutritional supplements of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. It is best to work with a doctor to determine your child’s need for nutritional supplements.
Your child may need a detoxification plan
As mentioned above, many children with asthma have a build-up of toxic substances in their bodies. These include heavy metals such as mercury and aluminum that your child’s system may not be properly eliminating. Our bodies are equipped with the machinery to get rid of toxic substances, but that machinery can be impaired and need help. Based on your child’s test results, your doctor can create a detoxification plan tailored to your child’s needs.
This holistic approach to asthma treatment is designed to dramatically reduce the frequency and severity of your child’s asthma symptoms. Since asthma season is upon us, make time now to have your child properly evaluated and treated. Spring doesn’t have to be a miserable time of year.
Teresa Fuller MD, PhD, is an integrative pediatrician at National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, serving Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. She is double board-certified in pediatrics and integrative holistic medicine with a doctorate in physiology. This powerful combination places Dr. Fuller in a unique position to positively impact the health of children by identifying the underlying contributors to disease such as nutrient deficiencies, toxicities, infections and other bodily stress in order to reverse symptoms and restore your child’s health. Her focus is prevention of chronic illness and obesity in children and young adults, ADHD, asthma and allergies.