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Treating Extrinsic Asthma with Natural Options

written by: KLeeBanks • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 10/22/2010

Breathing is a normal activity, one you don’t normally think about—unless you have asthma. Extrinsic asthma, also known as allergic asthma, afflicts more people than intrinsic or non-allergic asthma. Using a natural treatment may be a preferred method for extrinsic asthma.

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    Introduction

    Anyone who suffers from asthma knows how this chronic breathing disease can restrict your activity levels, often necessitating a modification in your lifestyle. Additionally, you must follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan, which often involves using inhalers and prescription medicines. You may want to discuss natural treatment for extrinsic asthma as an alternative method of managing your asthma.

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    Extrinsic Asthma Defined

    According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), extrinsic asthma is also known as allergic asthma. This type of asthma afflicts a greater number of people than intrinsic or non-allergic asthma—over half of the estimated 20 million asthma sufferers. Inhaled allergens such as pollen, dust, and pet dander are the primary triggers for extrinsic asthma. Extrinsic asthma symptoms mimic those of intrinsic asthma; these include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and a feeling of tightness in the chest. These symptoms derive from the immune system’s efforts to block the allergens, which results in airway passages becoming inflamed and obstructed. [1]

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    Natural Treatments

    The usual treatment for extrinsic asthma includes using inhalers and oral medications. While these are normally effective, they can have side effects. Treating extrinsic asthma naturally, therefore, may be a preferred management option for some people. The New Mexico State University (NMSU) received funding from the National Institute of Health to conduct research into medicinal plants of the southwest, to encourage minority students to pursue and obtain advanced degrees in the field of biomedical science. [2]

    We can benefit from their research [3], and that of MayoClinic.com [4], by reviewing their findings specifically for treating extrinsic asthma naturally. Both groups address the following alternative natural treatment options for asthma sufferers.

    Keep in mind that most alternative treatment methods are not conclusive; proponents advocating these approaches often vary in their agreement on the effectiveness of different treatments, and recommend ongoing research.

    Acupuncture

    This procedure involves the insertion of small needles at strategic points on the body. Proponents of this treatment state that acupuncture works by altering “various biochemical and physiological conditions" in the body, including reducing inflammation and stimulating the immune system. [5]

    Chiropractic/Osteopathy

    Proponents of chiropractic and osteopathic treatments state that these perform similar functions to alleviate symptoms experienced by asthma sufferers. In the case of people afflicted with extrinsic asthma, they experience inflammation of the sinus and airways as allergens trigger reactions. [1] Chiropractic and osteopathic manipulations can relieve pressure on the nerves related to the respiratory system, which in turn assist the body’s immune system to respond more effectively to allergens. [6][7]

    Herbal Remedies

    A number of herbal remedies have proven effective in treating asthma symptoms, although even proponents say ongoing research is necessary. [3][4] The primary effect of herbal remedies is the reduction of inflammation, such as occurs during allergic reactions of extrinsic asthma. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) provides a series of fact sheets on about 50 herbs at their Herbs at a Glance site (see References/Resources at the end of the article). [8]

    [Continued on second page]

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    Conclusion, references, and resources for natural treatment options for extrinsic asthma.
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    Natural Treatments (continued)

    Omega-3 fatty acids

    Omega-3 fatty acids derive primarily from fish and flaxseed. Similar to other alternative treatments, omega-3 may help extrinsic asthma sufferers by reducing the inflammation that occurs during an allergic reaction. [4]

    Relaxation Techniques

    Relaxation techniques may include “meditation, biofeedback, hypnosis, and progressive muscle relaxation." [4] Proponents of these techniques state they may help asthma sufferers by alleviating the stress that often results from allergy-induced attacks.

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    Conclusion

    Extrinsic asthma is also known as allergic asthma, since many known allergens trigger asthmatic symptoms. People suffering from extrinsic asthma experience reactions including coughing, wheezing, and tightness in their chests. This combination of reactions restricts breathing as the airways become inflamed and obstructed. While doctors normally prescribe treatments including inhalers and oral medications, some people prefer treating extrinsic asthma naturally. The research findings from both MayoClinic.com and NMSU’s “medicinal plants of the southwest" project indicate extrinsic asthma natural treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic and osteopathic, herbal remedies, omega-3 fatty acids, and relaxation techniques are effective for some asthma sufferers.

    *WARNING*

    Remember: *Always* consult with your doctor prior to making any changes to your prescribed asthma treatment, including trying alternative extrinsic asthma natural treatments.

    References/Resources

    [1] Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Allergic Asthma. Retrieved from http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=8&sub=16

    [2] NMSU: Medicinal Plants of the Southwest (MPSW). Research initiative background. Retrieved from http://medplant.nmsu.edu/

    [3] NMSU: MPSW. Asthma: Alternative Strategies. Retrieved from http://medplant.nmsu.edu/Diseases/asthma/Asthma.htm

    [4] MayoClinic.com. Asthma: Alternative Medicine and Treatments. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/asthma/DS00021/DSECTION=alternative-medicine

    [5] Acufinder.com. How does acupuncture work? Retrieved from http://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/How+does+acupuncture+work+

    [6] Chiropractic Works. How Chiropractic Works to Improve Your Asthma Symptoms. Retrieved from http://www.chiropracticworks.org/asthma/how-chiropractic-works-to-improve-your-asthma-symptoms

    [7] University of Maryland Medical Center. Osteopathy. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/osteopathy-000358.htm

    [8] NCCAM. Herbs at a Glance. Retrieved from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/herbsataglance.htm

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