*I am not a doctor, please always seek your physician’s advice before making any dietary or lifestyle changes. This is my own personal account with asthma.
This is a full all inclusive article so pin or bookmark if you need to so that you can come back and finish reading. This is covering literally EVERYTHING I’ve researched on this topic! I hope it saves you valuable time, gives you hope, and puts you on the road to good health! 😉
My journey with asthma started at the ripe ol’ age of 34. Just two years ago I was diagnosed and I honestly didn’t take it seriously at all. All I had was occasional shortness of breath and never had to use any sort of medication.
Fast forward 2 years, now 36 years old, I am having hard to control asthma. This year (2016) has been the first year that I actually needed medication. I’ve even had to have a nebulizer treatment in the emergency room. NOT FUN!
So I have to ask myself, where did this asthma come from? Why do I suddenly have it? And how come I am on 4-5 medications and still wheezing and needing Predisone (steroids)?
I’m still not 100% what type of asthma I have. Different doctors tell me different things, but they all agree it is allergic asthma. Meaning allergies give me my asthma symptoms.
I admit my first reaction besides confusion was depression. It hit hard. I knew I has having trouble and even following my doctors advice to the “T” it seemed I was only getting worse. I admit I would run to the bathroom and hit the floor crying out of despair and from feeling so helpless. With a small child underfoot I knew had to pull myself together, but how?
And so my healing journey begins.
Allergy Testing & Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots)
Being that most people’s asthma is exasperated by allergies, my first step was allergy testing. It’s always good to know what your triggers are ASAP. The only hard part about this is the fact that you have to be off of your anti-histamine for 7 days prior to testing. It actually didn’t end up being so bad and I toyed with the idea of NOT starting them back up (mistake and another round of Predisone for me!).
It’s a simple test that can be done on your back and sometimes your arms. After about 100+ pricks and pokes I found out I am allergic to 13 things. I really expected there to be more. My biggest offenders are dust mites and mold. Of course I have the regular tree and grass allergies, but surprisingly I wasn’t allergic to ragweed as I had first thought. So great! Now I know my triggers, but unfortunately the two worst (dust and mold) are year round allergies. I was hoping it was seasonal allergies only, but no such luck.
After you get your allergy testing done, it’s time to talk immunotherapy. Your doctor will need to access your medical history with asthma and allergies to determine if this is right for you. Allergy shots (or immunotherapy) are injections of the things that you tested allergic for. They mix up the allergens into a serum and inject small amounts of it into your blood stream. This is suppose to help your body build up a sort of immunity to the allergens and help your body to not over react to the allergens.
The downside? It can take 1-2 years to notice a difference. This is why it is first on my list. Get tested and if you and your doctor decide this is right for you, then start your shots right away. I am only one week into my own shots. I will update this post as I get further into my treatment.
My doctor made sure that I understand that this is NOT a cure to allergies and it will not get me off of my medications, but it should help my medications work better so that I have less asthma symptoms and flare ups. It’s also not guaranteed to work for everyone. Check with your insurance provider for coverage as these shots can cost up to $3,000/yearly. It seems most insurance providers will cover this treatment.
I’m not going to get into all of the details of what leaky gut is, but in a nut shell it is basically the deterioration of the stomach lining. This allows small particles to move through the stomach lining and into the blood stream. This creates an inflammation response in the body as well as poor nutrient absorption.
It can cause a slew of diseases and illness. This includes… you guessed it! Asthma and allergies and most definitely inflammation.
What causes leaky gut? There are many things that can cause leaky gut including: stress, processed foods, poor diet, antibiotic use, etc.
So I figured that healing my gut would be one of my top priorities. If you read this blog regularly you know I have had a huge struggle with junk food, fast food, and processed foods. Working from home and homeschooling is stressful and I just would grab the quickest things on hand to eat and just go with it.
I have since become fully vegan, but I still struggled with the weekly trip to the fast food line. *sigh* Low self control when it comes to french fries and soda!
On top of my poor eating choices I was getting sinus infections back to back and put on antibiotics time and time again. This year alone I think I was 4 rounds of antibiotics with in a few short months time frame.
All of this tells me that I most likely have leaky gut or at the very least very poor gut health. Time to fix that ASAP!
Let’s talk foods to avoid!
*All processed foods
UGH! So many things to avoid! But don’t worry it’s not as hard at it seems. If I can do it you can too! So now I have become a total gluten free vegan. YAY! Always wanted to give up dairy and eggs and now I have that extra push to do so.
First things first before you panic about protein! You can get protein here:
-Vega One Essentials
–Orgain plant based drink
I know you are wondering “then what CAN I eat then!?” Not to worry! For some really great food ideas I highly recommend reading Dr. Furman’s book Eat To Live and the Eat To Live Cookbook. Seriously, read it, learn it, love it, and try it!
Now let’s talk about what we can add to HEAL our gut!
-50 Billion+ Probiotic supplement (I recommend these)
–Water kefir or coconut kefir
-Enzymes before meals (I use Puradyme)
–Vegan L-Glutamine (2-5mg : 2-5x a day)
–Quercetin (500mg : 3x day with meals)
-Magnesium (spray or powder mix like Natural Calm, lemon flavor)
-Gut-Healing vegetable broth (like this one)
***Always check your medications for interactions. I usually go to WebMD and search the supplement, but it is always best to ask your doctor before starting any supplements! I know a lot of vegan gut healing plans include licorice root, but I have found it not be good for long term use or particularly great for asthmatics.
The good thing about this gut healing protocol is that a lot of this also helps with allergies and asthma! I’m actually surprised how much I like Sauerkraut! I was flinching as I tasted it for the first time, but it tasted like pickles if not better.
Okay, now that we have the allergy testing done and we are correcting our diet, let’s talk about our living space and how we can make it easier to live in. I’m going to focus mainly on mold and dust control.
If you live in a humid climate I suggest getting a dehumidifier. You’ll want to keep the humidity at about 2-% – 50%. You can a humidity monitor to keep track of this easily. Another good tip is to leave the vents on in the bathroom while taking showers to cut back on mold growth. Clean your bathroom regularly with a cleaner that will kill mold. You can use natural cleaners or a bleach cleaner. Whichever you can tolerate.
For dust mites it gets a bit tricky. They are EVERYWHERE! I first recommend removing all carpets. This is expensive and time consuming, but it can really help. Be sure someone else is home while they remove the carpet because you do not want to be there when all of that dust gets kicked up into air! If that is not an option, don’t worry! The steps below will help, but please keep this one on your to-do list!
Invest in some good hepa filter systems. My favorite brand is Winex . It does an excellent job cleaning the air. It also has the function to turn up the speed automatically when anything is detected! It’s amazing! The first place to put this bad boy is in your bedroom and then try and get another one for the main room. I ended up getting a cheaper Holmes tower hepa filtration system for my office room, but it doesn’t seem as effective and I have to change the filters more often (tiny filters).
Now let’s help you sleep even better and wake up with lest congestion and symptoms. You will need to encase your pillows, mattresses, and box springs with allergy covers that ZIP UP all the way. You will even need to encase your spouses pillow as well. It can be hard to find a good encasement that doesn’t crunch and sound crinkly. I have found that the TRU brand is the best and you don’t get that crinkle sound in your ear at night!
You will now want to wash your regular bedding once a week in hot water. I recommend using a detergent that kills the dust mites like this one here.
Now your bedroom should be all set, but wait a second! What about those curtains and rugs? For all soft surfaces in the home (curtains, living room furniture, rugs) I recommend spraying them down with dust mite killer spray once a week or once every other week. Your best bet is to remove all curtains in your home and replace with blinds that you can dust weekly.
Dust, vacuum, and mop weekly or even more if needed. Whenever you clean the house it is wise to wear a face mask. Make sure to empty all vacuum canisters and bags OUTSIDE of the home. Use a damp cloth when dusting to capture the dust. This helps it from being put back into the air. It is great to have a vacuum cleaner that has a hepa filter option. If you have hard floors this little stick vacuum is cheap and effective!
Other things you can do to help with dust mites:
–Osculating fan filter covers like this one (check your measurements)
-Freeze stuffed animals in freezer for 48 hours to kill dustmites (please don’t tell anyone else I still sleep with my teddy bear! LOL)
-Keep all windows closed and only air out your home when dust, pollen, and mold counts are low. Zyrtec and WebMD have wonderful apps for tracking these. I use both since Zyrtec doesn’t track mold and the WebMD one does. If you air out your home simply kick up the air purifiers to full speed, turn up the fans, turn on the bathroom vents and the vent over the stove. Let the house air out for about an hour and then close it up. It’s good to this on low allergy count days about 1x a month or 1x every other month.
–Salt Lamps – they are beautiful and help your air purifies work better at trapping dust!
Okay, so now our environment is getting cleaned up, we are fixing our diet and healing our gut, and we are taking allergy shots if we are able to. Now let’s get down to the asthma part of it. I didn’t list this section first because all of the previous steps are so beneficial and important in helping your asthma symptoms.
–Develop a cleaning schedule that works for you. I do a weekly cleaning day where I dust, mop, vacuum, wash bedding, spray soft surfaces, and check the stock of my supplies (meds, supplements, tinctures, etc). I do this every Monday, but do this on a day that fits you or break up into more days. I like to get it over with in one day!
-Make a chart to help maintain our hepa filters.
–Make a daily supplement chart to track your supplements. I did mine in check list form and just made copies. I like to check things off so this works for me.
–Exercise when it is safe for you exercise can help keep airways open. It is very important to ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for exercise. Start with walking 10 minutes a day for 2 weeks and slowly build up to 60 minutes in about 2-3 month time frame. It’s SO important that you take this slowly or you will hit some major set backs!
–Confide in a friend or psychologist to help you manage your emotions. Asthma is extremely stressful and down right scary at times. Don’t bottle this up. Talk with someone. There are even apps now that will connect you with someone to talk to that can help you manage your stress, depression or anxiety. Better Help seems to be the most popular one at this time.
–Meditation is great for breathing and relaxing. I use the “Calm” app on my phone and I am in love with it! There are challenges on it to help you with just about anything such as 7 days of managing anxiety.
-Yoga is great for both breathing and relaxation. You can find some great yoga videos for free on YouTube.
-SLEEP! Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Make this a priority. Your room should be a safe heaven too after you follow the steps above to keep the air nice and clean!
–Buteyko Breathing Technique is something you might want to consider. It has promising trials in it’s technique!
This is a list of some supplements you might want to ask your doctor about trying. As stated above you always want to make sure there are no interactions with your medications. Following the healing gut diet you will have most of the bad foods cut out by now so I’ll just get straight to supplements.
-Omega-3 supplement (I get this brand)
-Vitamin D supplement (your omega-3 supplement might have this added already)
–Termeric paste (not supplements) recipe here
-Apple Cider Vinegar drink 3x day (1TBL mixed in warm honey lemon water)
-Vitamin B12 drops: I don’t use the high dose, rather just put a few drops under my tongue and call it good. I’m looking to only do about 2-3mg a daily.
-Magnesium if you are not taking it already for the healthy gut diet
–Breathe Deep Tea or peppermint tea.
-Elderberry Juice when sick for up to 5 days (I’m talking infection, not a flare up)
– RC Essential Oil blend from Young Living (shhhh! I use to sell Doterra, but this blend seems to work much better). Dilute in a little fractionaed coconut oil in the palm of your hand and massage into sinus area and where you feel any chest congestion. I do this 2-3x a day on bad days. Find a local distributor to see if you can find the best price. This stuff is the bees knees!
-Warm compress to sinus area
-Gargle with salt water for post nasal drip
-Netti Pot to clear sinus areas of allergens
There are also some great juice recipes to try. I’ve come to the conclusion that most “asthma” juices contain radish, carrots, spinach, watercress, ginger root, and celery. Search Pinterest to find some good ones that might interest you. Again, filling up with good nutrition here!
–Asthma! Relax, you’re not going to die! This book is a game changer! If you take away one thing from this post…. get this book! It also has possible drug interactions listed in the book.
-Eat To Live or any of Dr. Furmans books. They are really THAT good and encouraging!
–Plant Based Family most recipes are also gluten free.
–Fully Raw Kristina, even if not going on a fully raw diet, there are some great recipes in here. PLUS I got to meet her in person and I truely adore her. Her youtube channel has helped encourage me so much. Not just in food, but in learning to love and accept myself.
I will keep this post updated as I go through all of these protocols further. I think the most important thing to know is that our health didn’t get bad overnight… even though it seems that way sometimes. So don’t expect to see a full turn around over night. I’ve learned that it takes time to rebuild your body and to truly heal it. I personally am guessing my healing will be around 2 years. I will be researching further on long term use of the supplements listed above and adjust accordingly. I think that is a good time range to give yourself to heal. I am hoping to see improvement in as little as 6 months and then ongoing from there.
Research and research some more! That’s what brought you here to start with. You are already on the right path and I hope this post gave you the resources you need to further your knowledge.
I know this post contains a lot so do what you can when you can. I hope this post helps motivate you and encourages you to take better care of yourself and asthmatic loved ones. <3