An Alternative Approach to Asthma

by Dr. Tammy Amoth

It’s that time of year again…the festive lights on holiday trees, the warm crackling of a fire, and the chill in the air all signal that winter is here! Did I say “chill” in the air? What I meant was “frigid, arctic frost!”  The blustery, cold winter can create respiratory challenges for everyone (who hasn’t taken a deep breath on a very cold day and felt like their airways froze shut?), but for asthma sufferers, the frigid air compounds an already serious problem.

Asthma is a chronic condition caused by constriction and inflammation of the bronchial tubes and often includes increased mucous production in the airways. It afflicts over 22 million Americans, accounting for over 20 million outpatient visits, over 1.6 million emergency room visits, 500,000 hospitalizations, over 20 million lost work days, over 10 million lost school days, and over 35 million prescriptions per year. There are about 5000 asthma-related deaths per year. Despite medical attempts to treat it, asthma rates have increased more than 160% in children under the age of five, and 74% in children aged 5 to 14 since 1981. Medical management of asthma has helped save many lives; however, medications can only quiet the expression of symptoms.

The basic underlying cause of asthma is an imbalance in the immune system. An asthmatic’s immune system differs from a non-asthmatic’s in several ways. First, the system overreacts to external irritants that have no effect on non-asthmatics. Second, their immune cells tend to produce an excessive amount of pro-inflammatory chemicals which can lead to increased mucous production and a prolonged inflammatory response in the airway. In addition, asthmatics may have an imbalance in their autonomic nervous system favoring the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes constriction of the airways. Therefore, a seemingly insignificant stimulus causes a heightened immune response with excessive and prolonged inflammation, mucous production, and bronchial tube constriction. Medicine can reduce asthma’s symptoms, but it cannot restore proper balance to the body. Thankfully, there are some natural ways to restore balance to the body and help prevent the cascade of events that cause asthma attacks.

The nervous system controls and coordinates all of the cells, tissues, and systems of the body. The bones that make up our skull and spine protect our nervous system at its source: the brain and spinal cord. A loss of integrity of the moving bones of the spine can impair this vital communication link between your brain and body. If you have nervous system compromise, do you think you will be sicker or healthier?  If this compromise affects the autonomic nervous system, could it cause bronchial constriction?  Could it impact immune cell function? Yes! Chiropractic is the art and science of reducing nervous system interference, called “subluxation,” by improving the function and structure of the spine. Gentle adjustments to the spine restore the fundamental communication flow from the brain and spinal cord to the body, allowing the body to express optimum health, balance, and well-being. Consider a chiropractic assessment to determine if your spine has subluxations that may be affecting your respiratory function.

In addition to evaluating their spinal health, it is imperative that those with asthma make significant dietary shifts. Inflammation plays an enormous role in asthma, and the building blocks for the pro- and anti-inflammatory chemicals produced by the body come from our diet. Reducing the intake of foods that amplify inflammation while increasing those that normalize the body away from inflammation will help restore balance to the body. Replace processed foods, sugars, and unhealthy fats with whole, simple foods such as vegetables, nuts, chicken, meat, eggs, legumes, whole grains, fruits, olive oil and organic butter. Beware of dyes, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. Take a high-quality omega-3 supplement to shift the body away from inflammation, as well as probiotics to enhance appropriate immune system function. Consider taking antioxidants to fight free radical damage caused by inflammation. Drink an ample amount of water. Address any emotional stress, which can also trigger asthma attacks.

Asthmatics can improve their body function through dietary changes and regular spinal checkups. Creating body balance makes it possible for healing to occur, allowing some people to reduce their medications and enjoy the wonders of the winter season, regardless of the chill in the air.

Ways to sidestep that pesky common cold

Ayruveda, an ancient Indian healing practice, says that colds are an imbalance of one’s dosha. Basically, when your energy goes bonkers, you get a cold, which often happens in the autumn or winter seasons. These seasons increase the vata dosha, which is associated with the wind and colder weather. A cold caused by increase of vata usually has a dry cough, watery eyes, and runny nose . Practitioners believe that change from hot to cold weakens our digestive fire, or the agni, and leaves our bodies with excess toxins called ama. Increased ama makes us more susceptible to colds and flu.

Too much ama can also lead to an increase in kapha dosha, the dosha associated with cold and wet. This imbalance can make you feel sluggish and congested.

You can counteract these effects by keeping your body temperature up. When you get that feeling that a cold is coming on, schedule a hot stone massage or take a warm bath or shower which will fire up your digestion and help burn off the phlegm and mucous. You can also try taking ashwaganda, amalaki, or gotu kala. Ask a local TCM practitioner which would help you more.

If you don’t want to spend the next 6 months wrapped in a blanket with the tissues near by, here are some new ways to beat the sniffles. Ayruveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and naturopathy invite new ways to tackle a cold.

If you are too late and the cold is bringing you down fast, here are some ways that may help speed up the recovery. Cut down on your dairy intake as well as foods made with sugar and oils, both of which increase your kapha and your mucous. Make sure you get plenty of warming herbs like cinnamon, ginger, or basil, which soothe kapha and vata doshas. Drink lots of water and sip herbal tea. Try this recipe:

½ tsp tulsi
pinch of ginger
juice of 1 lemon
honey to taste.

This mixture is made of pungent, dry, and sour, which reduces kapha and vata.

Naturopathy believes that the body can heal itself in time. To help fight colds and flu, it may blend conventional medicine with natural treatments.

To smash colds before they begin thriving, wash your hands often. Add more herbs to your diet to kick start the immune system. Try Echinacea, fresh garlic, ginger root, zinc, or shitake or seishi mushrooms. Extra sleep is always a good idea. And drinking at least half your body weight in water helps to flush out your systems.

If you are too late, many naturopaths will prescribe treatment based on your individual needs. Try a steam humidifier to help clean out the lungs. For a stuffy or runny nose, you can mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with three parts water and use as a nasal spray. You can also try putting on a pair of wet socks before bed. Cover them with a pair of dry wool socks and as you sleep, the body will move blood to your feet and away from your head, which can help relieve your congestion.

Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on the flow of your life energy or your qi. Illness happens with one’s qi is blocked. Colds and flu happen with “wind” attacks, which affect your lungs. A wind cold will result in a common cold or body aches, nasal discharge, and headaches, and a wind heat will result in the flu or fever, thirst, sore throat, and colored nasal discharge.

Your first step is to build up a resistance. To strengthen your immune system, many herbalists will recommend Gejie Ta Bu Wan or bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan. See a local practitioner to see which prevention treatment is right for you.

If you already have the sniffles you can try acupuncture or self massage. There are several pressure points that can help:

1. The fleshy part between your right thumb and forefinger. Gently press the area with your other thumb for 1 minute.
2. Two finger widths up from your wrist is another pressure point. On the inside of the forearm, gently press for 1 minute.
3. The middle of the groove outside of each nostril; press each point for 1 minute.

You can also add hot lemon water to your daily diet. This will replace the lost fluid and give your system a mega dose of vitamin C.

Adapted from Natural Health magazine Oct 2008.

Cracking the Code on Lyme Disease

By Dr. Lindsley | There is a disease that has swept across the nation and then been quietly swept under the rug. It has quietly and insidiously crept into the lives of tens of thousands of people living in Wisconsin and surrounding states especially. Lyme disease has become a household name in this neck of the woods, but with this familiarity, our understanding of the disease is surprisingly still quite limited.

Einstein once said (paraphrasing here) that if we were to solve a tougher problem, we better change our thinking or will get the same answer. If we’re going to solve the problem of Lyme disease in this country, we need to put down the bottle of antibiotics, put on our thinking caps, and figure it out for real. After all, future generations are depending on this.

Lyme disease masquerades as a lot of other incurable diseases so, including: MS, ALS, depression, Bells Palsy, Cancer, and Alzheimer’s, all of which have no known cause or cure. Want to keep going? I just described about $200 billion worth of incurables. Interestingly, we have no idea what causes the diseases I just listed and yet the world of modern medicine is spending billions on methods that treat symptoms only – they can’t touch the cause of any of these disease processes. These diseases are a mix of inflammatory and immune deficiency diseases. I have also seen every one of these involved with a patient suffering from Lyme disease.

Did you know between 250,000 and 350,000 cases of MS have been diagnosed in the United States, and the illness is five times more prevalent in northern climates? In fact, in Wisconsin, one in five hundred people are now said to have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). We have yet to tally the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) patients that I have seen coming through my office that may or may not have been given a diagnosis. With 30,000 cases of ALS diagnosed and 5,000 new cases per year, it is becoming evident that while diagnoses are increasing, our ability to put a stop to these diseases is not.

Many people mistakenly believe that Lyme disease is a single bacterial infection that enters our immune system. A round or two of doxycycline or similar antibiotic should whip it into submission and we can go on our way and enjoy our lives again, right? The reality of this disease process is this: I have yet to see any antibiotic completely wipe it from an individual who was has been exposed to Lyme. Lyme disease is not usually a single bacteria entering our system, but several co-infections arriving on the scene adding chaos to the immune system. In fact, as many as seven different bacteria and parasites at one time can result from a single bite. Many times, the labs running Lyme disease tests are only running the single bacteria of Borellia Burgdorferi (Lyme bacteria) while leaving out the possibility of Babesia, Erlichia, Bartonella, Mycoplasma, Rickettsia Rickettsi (Rocky Mountain spotted fever) and a few other variants. Truth be told, most individuals who are exposed to this disease process will have at least two of these bacteria-parasite combinations to fight off at one time, and antibiotics are simply not going to remove all combinations from the musculoskeletal system and the central nervous system completely.

The best antibiotic might remove 75% of the infection, leaving the immune system the remaining 25% to deal with. Without some type of immune support for the body, it can manifest again months or years later in the brain and spinal cord as a neurological disease. Most of what is going to attack us is either parasitic or bacteria and will be swallowed and enter our digestive tract. This is where the majority of our immune system lives (roughly 80-85%); the rest is spread out in various tissues of our body. The idea of treatment is to stop the invader before it gets outside our digestive tube and enters into our organ and central nervous systems.

While a tick is attached to our skin, it releases several bacteria and parasites in our tissues that very quickly work their way into our blood stream and then very quickly try to leave the blood stream and head for the hills. Why? It is a strategic move by the parasites and bacteria to move away from the immune system and enter areas of the body where it can quickly overcome the localized immune system and set up shop. It sounds like a really smart military strategy: attack a weaker opponent, take the territory, and raise the flag. That is exactly what Lyme disease will do: it takes over your body one organ system at a time, going after the communication systems first.

Our main computer system involves the brain and spinal cord. It’s our central nervous system because all information from our body flows up through our nerves to our brain, where the brain (our CPU) makes a decision on how to handle the situation. Then it sends the best known correct action back down through our nerves to our organs and muscles. We make the “fight or flight” decision hundreds of times a day without even knowing what is happening, while our 50 trillion cells communicate and run the show. Our autonomic nervous system is tasked with defending our tissues from all known invaders into our bodys’ tissues.

What gets commonly missed, though, when the bacteria and parasites take hold of the nervous system, are the toxins they secrete. Ammonia, lactic acid, and phenol are the big three. Bacteria are parasites entering our central nervous system (CNS), which secrete ammonia at high levels. Local immune cells and detoxification cells cannot handle the load allowing the ammonia to accumulate in the CNS. The accumulation eventually causes enough inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that we begin to see neurological changes in the body’s movements, moods, and thought processes. Neurotransmitters are blocked from working and the inflamed tissues begin to degenerate, leaving us with memory loss, depression, and decreased motor function to arms and legs. Short term memory loss, fatigue, and depression are simply precursors to the larger categorical diagnosis.

As much as big pharmaceutical companies want us to believe that petroleum-based products (drugs) used to treat symptoms will cure our diseases, this unfortunately is just not the case. Our bodies are incredibly strong, smart and well-functioning systems. Gumming up the systems with oils and petroleum is eventually going to stop working.

Now that you know a lot more about Lyme disease and how it functions in the body, stay tuned next issue to find out what your natural alternatives are when it comes to healing your body of Lyme disease. There is hope, and actually, great success!

Dr. Lindsley is a former Lyme Disease sufferer that has been studying natural approaches to help patients remove the source of the toxins from invading bacteria and parasites while naturally boosting their immune systems.  He is currently working on a book to help others educate themselves on effective natural approaches to heal themselves from Lyme Disease.

A Smart Start for Baby

Start your baby’s academic career way before she packs her first backpack. A recent study from the University of Colorado linked breast-feeding to better HS grades. Looking at 126 siblings, some who were breast fed and other who were not, from 59 families, they found on average the breast fed groups’ grade points were higher than those not breast fed.

Dr. Daniel Rees, the study’s co-author says those who were breast fed seemed smarter and healthier and as a result perform better in school. This study was also a first of its kind to look at siblings in a study, which takes out the potential for socioeconomic standings, home environment, and parental intelligence.

Editor’s Correction: What is a Midwife?

We apologize to Erin Kaspar-Frett for our mistake of calling her a lay midwife in our last issue. Erin explains the difference between a CNM and a lay midwife below.

What is a Midwife?

by Erin Kaspar-Frett

Many might assume that a midwife is a midwife. While in some countries this may be true, in the US, there are stark differences. Certified Nurse Midwives attend and receive a nursing degree first and then go on to receive their Master’s degree in Midwifery. Their training includes rounds as a nurse and then as a student midwife. They can prescribe medications and typically work for a hospital and clinic.

The Licensed Midwife first becomes a Certified Professional Midwife and then applies for licensure in their state. Wisconsin and Minnesota both offer licensure. In some states, with the exception of Certified Nurse Midwives, midwifery is illegal.

The path to becoming a Certified Professional Midwife is also varied. Some attend a Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) accredited school, learning academics through schooling and apprenticing with a more experienced midwife. After finishing school, the candidate must take the National American Registry of Midwives (NARM) written exam, an all-day, extensive exam testing the knowledge of the midwife candidate. Once passing the NARM exam, the midwife becomes certified. Thereafter, she may choose or be required to go on to become a Licensed Midwife, if her state has or requires licensure.

The other path to becoming a CPM is as a direct entry midwife (DEM). A DEM to CPM candidate participates in academic self-study and apprentices with an experienced midwife. In this path, she will take a NARM skills exam and then take the NARM written exam. After passing both exams, she becomes a CPM. She may also go on to become a Licensed Midwife.

The CPM/LM may not prescribe medication, but she may administer some medications, in accordance with state law. Medications are generally used for situations such as post-partum hemorrhage, giving Rhogam to an Rh Negative mother, or administering newborn vitamin K.

A DEM, Traditional, or Lay Midwife, is a midwife who apprentices directly with an experienced midwife, often participating in self-study. She does not get her CPM or LM, either by choice or because it is not available under the laws of her state.

Giving birth is one of the most important, powerful, and transforming experiences of a woman’s life. The factor that has the most impact and effect on the outcome of each birth is the woman and couple’s comfort. It is of utmost importance to trust the caregiver and feel comfortable in the setting chosen for birth.

Erin Kaspar-Frett is a Licensed, Certified Professional Midwife with a Master’s of Science in Midwifery from the Midwives College of Utah. She lives with her family in Ellsworth, Wisconsin and serves a geographical area within a two hour radius of her home office. She can be reached at 612-801-9967 or erin@earthmothermidwife.com. For more information about Erin and the safety of homebirth please visit www.earthmothermidwife.com.