Alternative Medicine Review 2001 (Feb); 6 (1): 20–47 ~ FULL TEXT
Thorne Research, Inc,
Dover, ID 83825, USA.
A chronic inflammatory disorder of the respiratory airways, asthma is characterized by bronchial airway inflammation resulting in increased mucus production and airway hyper-responsiveness. The resultant symptomatology includes episodes of wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Asthma is a multifactorial disease process with genetic, allergic, environmental, infectious, emotional, and nutritional components. The underlying pathophysiology of asthma is airway inflammation. The underlying process driving and maintaining the asthmatic inflammatory process appears to be an abnormal or inadequately regulated CD4+ T-cell immune response. The T-helper 2 (Th2) subset produces cytokines including interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-5, IL-6, IL-9, IL-10, and IL-13, which stimulate the growth, differentiation, and recruitment of mast cells, basophils, eosinophils, and B-cells, all of which are involved in humoral immunity, inflammation, and the allergic response. In asthma, this arm of the immune response is overactive, while Th1 activity, generally corresponding more to cell-mediated immunity, is dampened. It is not yet known why asthmatics have this out-of-balance immune activity, but genetics, viruses, fungi, heavy metals, nutrition, and pollution all can be contributors. A plant lipid preparation containing sterols and sterolins has been shown to dampen Th2 activity. Antioxidant nutrients, especially vitamins C and E, selenium, and zinc appear to be necessary in asthma treatment. Vitamins B6 and B12 also may be helpful. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, the flavonoid quercetin, and botanicals Tylophora asthmatica, Boswellia serrata and Petasites hybridus address the inflammatory component. Physical modalities, including yoga, massage, biofeedback, acupuncture, and chiropractic can also be of help.