Fifteen million people suffer from asthma. Over six billion dollars are spent on asthma annually, with over one billion spent on medications alone.
But are these medications working? Are the side effects worse than the cure?
Dr. Richard Firshein believes there is a better answer, and his new book provides a detailed, alternative approach to treating asthma.
In one chapter, he provides information on the role of certain nutrients:
THE BASIC ASTHMA PROTOCOL
Magnesium. If I had to recommend one nutrient to asthmatics, it would be magnesium. Over half a century ago, scientists reported that magnesium sulfate worked as a natural bronchodilator, one that opened constricted bronchial tubes without side effects. Though magnesium alone cannot cure a severe attack, intravenous magnesium sulfate is now used at many hospitals along with drugs to treat attacks. Magnesium helps relax smooth muscle, rapidly opens the bronchial tubes, and as at least one report has shown, can prevent intubation (a painful procedure in which a tube is forced down the throat to help a patient breathe).
Magnesium works at a cellular level, most likely by displacing calcium. Calcium stimulates one of the primary allergic cells in the body-the mast cell-to burst and release a flood of histamine. It is also necessary for muscle contraction. Magnesium, in contrast, helps stabilize the mast cell and relax muscles, so it functions as both an antiinflammatory nutrient and as a bronchodilator.
Only a hospital or a trained physician can administer intravenous magnesium. I find that intravenous magnesium, along with other nutrients such as vitamin C and the B vitamins, can be extraordinarily helpful to my patients. Intravenous infusions of nutrients at levels shown to be safe can go straight into the cell in a matter of minutes. An oral supplement must be broken down and digested before it can be absorbed, and that process can be derailed by faulty enzymes or low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Therefore, oral supplements are not always sufficient, especially in patients who suffer from digestive problems.
One forty-year-old male executive who came to me was extremely skeptical about IVs. He felt so much better the day after his first IV that he returned religiously for a treatment every week for the next ten weeks. Now he is on a maintenance regimen of one IV every two months.
I find intravenous infusions to be most helpful at the beginning of a treatment program, when I want to replenish long-depleted levels of nutrients. Finally, intravenous magnesium is useful for acute attacks of asthma.
Supplements of oral magnesium can be useful over the long term. I recommend daily oral supplementation to all asthmatics. My preference is a combination of magnesium aspartate, orotate, and glycinate, in a dose of 500 milligrams a day. (As mentioned in chapter 4, accurate magnesium levels can only be obtained through an RBC magnesium test. Standard blood tests only tell you how much free magnesium is floating in the blood, and studies have shown that blood levels can be normal while cells themselves are deficient.) A note of caution: excess oral magnesium can cause diarrhea and lead to hypermagnesemia.
Omega-3 fatty acids. Another star in the nutritional arsenal, omega-3 fatty acids are found in flaxseed and fish oils and are particularly high in fatty, deep-water fish like salmon, tuna, and mac