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Asthma on the rise - Homeopathy can help

The increased incidence of asthma in children is alarming. Throughout my entire childhood growing up in Southern California I knew of only one child with asthma, my cousin (who lived in Texas). None of my many friends or classmates over the years, to my knowledge, had this disorder.
     The story is quite different now. According to an article in American Family Physician ("Management of Asthma in Children," April 1, 2001), there are nearly 5 million children in the U.S. affected with asthma. That is more than 5 percent of the population younger than 18 years (1 in 20 persons). Between 1980 and 1994, the prevalence of asthma in children 4 years of age or younger jumped 160%. That is an increase of over two-and-one-half times in just fourteen years.
     The American Family Physician article goes on to outline the contemporary medical approach to asthma, advocating aggressive therapy involving mostly inhaled medications to control the symptoms of the disease. I was not surprised that the authors, conventional physicians, never mentioned homeopathy as a therapeutic option. They doubtless know nothing of homeopathy and have never considered it.

Why the increase?
I was surprised, however, that the authors were silent regarding any speculation on possible reasons for this incredible increase in disease incidence. After all, there has to be a reason. And identifying this reason is fundamental to reversing this trend.
     The most common reason that I hear bantered about in medical circles is that the increase in asthma is probably because of pollution. The problem with this argument is that the air, at least in Southern California, is significantly cleaner now than it was back in the sixties. Pollution can definitely be a factor in asthma, as can allergies, diet, emotional trauma, etc., but I don't think any of these factors accounts for asthma's increased incidence.
     In my opinion, the skyrocketing incidence of asthma is iatrogenic (physician-induced). I believe doctors are unknowingly causing asthma through their treatment of infants and young children. I am not saying all asthma is caused by physician treatment, but enough to account for the increasing incidence of this disease.
     The medical treatments that I suspect are causing asthma (as well as other illnesses that are increasing in frequency) are an overly aggressive immunization schedule and excessive use of antibiotics in the very young.
     As we all know, human beings are born in a very immature state compared to other living things on this planet. While development continues for some 18 or so years, the most significant development occurs in the first months and years after birth. During this time the immune, nervous, and glandular systems as well as the lungs and other organs are undergoing remarkable changes. Just as influences (such as diseases or medicines) before birth can result in developmental problems known as "birth defects," so also some influences after birth can cause developmental problems resulting in chronic illness and other problems.
     It all depends on the individual, what they are exposed to, and when they are exposed to it. That is why I recommend a delayed and reduced immunization schedule starting not at birth (as is currently recommended) but much later. And I recommend homeopathic treatment for most of the illnesses of childhood, reserving conventional (allopathic) treatment only for times when homeopathic treatment is unsuccessful and the conventional treatment is well-indicated.
     There is not yet "proof" that the rising incidence of asthma is, as I claim, iatrogenic. Yet to me, after treating thousands of patients naturally for many years, the problem is so obvious and glaring that I feel irresponsible not to present it.
     Asthma is a multifactorial disease meaning that there are many underlying causes which can all manifest in the same clinical presentation of asthma. Conventional treatment for all cases of asthma is essentially the same, oriented towards opening the airways and reducing inflammation. This form of treatment, while often life-saving, does not cure asthma but controls its symptoms.

Homeopathic treatment
Homeopathic treatment of patients with asthma has two goals. One is the relief of acute episodes of asthma, the other is the curing of the underlying disease so that acute episodes no longer occur.
     Curing patients with asthma is beyond the scope of this article as it takes treatment over an extended time period by a homeopath with professional training and experience. By the way, it is not necessary or desirable to forego conventional treatment when undertaking homeopathic treatment for chronic asthma. In fact, to precipitously discontinue conventional treatment is often dangerous. It is best to commence homeopathic treatment and to gradually discontinue the conventional treatment only under professional supervision as the condition improves.
     Below, we will look at some homeopathic remedies that may be of help in an acute attack. Asthma can be a life-threatening disease, so medical supervision is extremely important. Often the homeopathic remedy can be tried first, and if it does not provide quick relief, conventional drugs can be used and/or immediate medical attention sought.
     Ipecac. This is the homeopathic preparation of the well-known syrup used to induce vomiting in some cases of poisoning. It is an excellent example of how homeopathy utilizes the entire range of symptoms that a substance can cause, and cure, in a patient. For Ipecac causes (and cures) not only a relentless kind of nausea and vomiting but also bright red hemorrhages, respiratory affections, and even convulsions.
     Regarding asthma, the symptoms indicating the use of the homeopathic preparation of Ipecac are constriction in the chest, rattling mucus without expectoration, suffocating coughs, and gasping for breath. The patient often must sit up and remain still. The tongue is often clean (no coating) or red and pointed. There may be nausea (a big indication for this remedy), but in my experience it is often absent in patients who respond well to the remedy.
     I have seen many remarkable responses with Ipecac for patients with acute asthma. Most patients have a gradual resolution of their symptoms, while others have a dramatic, quick response. More than one patient reported vomiting within minutes of taking the remedy, followed by immediate relief of symptoms. One girl, just minutes after taking the remedy, had a sudden onset of nose bleeding with bright red blood (an Ipecac symptom) with immediate clearing of her asthmatic symptoms.
     I have found this remedy so useful in patients with acute asthma that I often use it in those patients where clear indications for a remedy are lacking.
     Lobelia. Like Ipecac, this is another remedy to consider for patients in whom asthma is associated with nausea. And, like Ipecac, there is rattling respiration and constriction in the chest. A distinguishing feature may be a profuse flow of saliva or a prickling sensation in the skin.
     I haven't found this remedy to be indicated as often as Ipecac, but it is interesting to note that American herbalists used the Lobelia herb in large doses to force vomiting and "cleanse the system," a procedure that often stopped acute asthma attacks.
     Arsenicum album. Good old Arsenicum album is often indicated in patients with acute asthma. The patient must sit up and has the whistling, wheezing breathing so common in asthma. The typical Arsenicum symptoms are often present, namely restlessness, anxiousness (often with fear of death or sense of foreboding), chilliness, thirst (often for sips of cold water), and a worsening of symptoms after midnight.
     Spongia. This homeopathic preparation of a sea sponge is sometimes needed for patients with acute asthma. If a patient has a barking, croupy cough, then Spongia is often indicated. But many patients with asthma who need this remedy don't have this type of cough. Like Arsenicum, they may feel anxious, with fear of suffocation. A peculiar Spongia symptom in asthma is the need to throw the head back. They sometimes have a sense of something in the larynx, and they may be hoarse. Consider Spongia for those patients whose asthma comes on after dry, cold winds and who wake with their symptoms.
     Pulsatilla. This common remedy is often overlooked in patients with acute asthma. As is common in asthmatics, they cannot breathe properly lying flat and must sit up. And as is common with patients needing Pulsatilla, they don't tolerate being overheated. Emotionally, they usually feel a bit wimpy (emotional and tearful) and want sympathy and consolation. Discharges, if present, are typically thick, colored, and creamy.
     Phosphorus. This is a common remedy in patients with many lung afflictions. Asthma is often preceded by a cough. The patient is usually thirsty for cold drinks. Emotionally, the patient is sensitive, anxious, and easily exhausted. They often desire sympathy and company.
     There are many other remedies to consider including Aconite (sudden onset, extreme fear), Sambucus (associated with profuse sweat), Lachesis (suffocative attacks on falling asleep, intolerant of constriction), Nux vomica (chilly; irritable; oversensitive to noise, odors, etc.), Carbo veg (desires air blowing on face, weak, cold), Cuprum (often associated with muscle spasms or spasmodic asthma), Sulphur, Stannum, Eucalyptus, and Natrum sulph. Check a larger materia medica or one of the home care books for more information on these and additional remedies indicated for acute asthma attacks.

Dosage
In patients with acute asthma, I repeat the homeopathic remedy frequently. Sometimes only one or two doses will break the attack (as described in the Ipecac example above), but usually repeated doses, often every few minutes in an acute attack, are necessary. The readily available 30C or 30X potency will suffice, though if I have higher potencies available I use them.
     A good technique for frequent dosing is to dissolve a dose in a glass of water, stir it frequently, and give teaspoons or sips of the medicated water every few minutes.

For a more permanent cure
If you or someone you know has asthma, you should consider consulting with a professional homeopath for treatment. The secret for good results is to stick with it. Sometimes there will be minimal progress for many months followed by gradual but steady improvement.
     I have treated many patients with asthma over the years. There are some who got limited results, but most, over time, get significant improvement. Again, I want to emphasize that it is not necessary, nor desirable, to suddenly discontinue your conventional medications in order to start homeopathic treatment. These medications can be reduced as you improve.
     I once told a conventional German doctor whom I met doing residency work here in the U.S. that I had heard homeopathy is used in Germany and asked if he knew of it. He replied, "Oh yes, homeopathy is used a lot in Germany. It is very good for treating patients with diseases like asthma." I agree.

About the author:
Dr. Timothy R. Dooley is a graduate of National College of Naturopathic Medicine as well as Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine. He practices homeopathy in San Diego, California, and teaches at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences. He is the author of the easy-to-read introductory book, Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth Medicine. The complete text can be read on-line at http://www.beyondflatearth.com. For more information, visit http://www.drdooley.net. He can be reached at (619) 297-8641 or drdooley@drdooley.net.