Asthma & Eczema

The incidence of both asthma and eczema is very much on the rise in developed countries. In England, more than 1 in 4 children now have asthma, compared to 1 in 18 back in the 1970s while Atopic eczema affects 1 in 6 school children in the UK and 2 to 3 per cent (some say 1 in 12) of adults.

The question is, why? Most experts agree that it is likely to be due to changes in diet, lifestyle or environmental factors, with food allergies being very high on the list of contributing factors. Yet few sufferers are informed in any detail about the key contributory factors, or checked out thoroughly for food allergies. Prescriptions for corticosteroid creams or inhalers are routine.

There’s little doubt that the main anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat eczema and asthma, while highly effective in providing relief, particularly in the short term, can matters worse in the long run and incur risks for a variety of side effects.

It’s equally obvious that checking for allergies, upping your intake of antioxidants, essential fats and other natural anti-inflammatories, improving your breathing if you have asthma, and applying appropriate vitamin-based skin creams if you have eczema constitute an approach that at worst, is likely to reduce the need for drugs and at best, will completely relieve symptoms. While there’s a lack of good studies to prove the benefits of an all-round nutrition-based approach, there’s certainly every good reason to pursue these and see what happens to your symptoms.

What Works

Eat a diet high in oily fish (wild or organic salmon, mackerel, herring, kippers, sardines and tuna steak a maximum of once a week), omega-3 rich flax and pumpkin seeds, and low in meat and milk. Also supplement 1,000mg of the combined omega-3s EPA/DHA, which usually means two to three fish oil capsules a day.

Check yourself for food allergies with a proper food allergy test

Supplement 1,000 to 2,000 mg of MSM and 400mg or more of N-acetyl-cysteine.

Sulphur – include plenty of organic free-range eggs (the omega-3-rich type are excellent too), red onions and garlic in your diet, all high in sulphur.

Antioxidants. Make sure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Add ginger and turmeric to your food.

Get enough minerals and vitamins. Take a good all-round multivitamin with at least 1,000mg of vitamin C, 150mg of magnesium and 10mg of zinc.

Supplement an all-round antioxidant formula if you don’t eat at least six servings of fruit and vegetables a day, although eating plenty of them is very important. Also supplement 1,000mg of quercetin a day.

Breathe. If you have asthma, learn how to breathe using the Buteyko method.

For eczema, apply vitamin A and C skin creams daily.

Dig deeper by reading Food is Better Medicine Than Drugs for all the evidence to support this approach, and its comparative effectiveness and safety compared to the conventional treatment of ADHD. Also read Solve your skin Problems by Natalie Savona and Patrick Holford.

Working with Your Doctor

Many of the recommendations made here to reduce your inflammatory and allergic sensitivity can be put into action without interfering in any way with medical treatment. And they may well reduce the need for it.

For instance, if you have eczema and find that some of the measures we’ve outlined here are making your skin much less dry, inflamed and sore, you may find that your need for cortisone-based creams becomes less. And if you have asthma, and you find all this makes your condition much better, it is worth having an informed conversation with your doctor about the value of intermittent versus daily use of bronchodilators.

For both asthma and eczema, one of the most important factors to check for is allergy. Your doctor may be willing to refer you for allergy tests. It is important, however, that you are checked for both IgE and IgG allergies, so as few doctors check for IgG-based allergies, you may need to do it using a food allergy test.