Asthma. It is indeed a topic worth discussing. In fact, in the last 4 days, a systematic review of complementary and alternative medicine for asthma self-management has been published (all 97 pages). In this review it critically examines the various forms of complementary therapies that have been studied by scientists to see if these therapies actually work. Let us explore what was discussed in the foregoing review.
Although there have been several studies looking at the use of complementary therapies to self-manage asthma, it is important to note that the large majority have shown little. if any, benefit. Moreover, it must be stated that given the term 'complementary' can include modalities outside and beyond nutrition, it is important to make mention that there have been 1 or 2 modalities that have shown improvements in pulmonary function, one example discussed in the foregoing review is The Buteyko Method.
From a nutrition perpsective there was really only two studies that clearly showed a significant imporvement in asthma symptoms. The first study (2010) examined the effect of oral magnesium supplementation on airway resistance (resistance to the flow of gases, i.e. oxygen, during ventilation (breathing) in men and women diagnosed with mild to moderate asthma. Participants in the study were assigned 340 mg of magnesium daily for 6.5 months. Over the course of the study participants diagnosed with both mild and moderate asthma showed improvements in the total volume of air expired after a full inspiration, and an overall improvement of 20 percent in forced expiratory volume (FEV1) (the volume of air expired in the first second of maximal expiration), which is often significantly reduced in obstructive and restrictive lung disease. Moreover, their was a 5.8 percent increase in peak expiratory flow rate (capability of the lungs to move air through the body) in the group consuming magnesium. The second study (2010) examined the impact nutritional formulas may have on asthma control in children. In this randomised study, children were divided into two groups, one group using a nutritional formula composed of antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The study should that the children using the nutritional formula experienced a reduction in the scientific markers that are used to assess inflammation in asthma, however, there was no difference in asthma free days between the group using the nutritional formula and the group not using the formula.
It is to be expected that many individuals have found beneficial complementary therapies that have very much improved their symptoms, and I validate this. I also wish to encourage individuals to seek out complementary therapies that have been scientifically peer-reviewed, to show that what is offered from a complementary perspective could be of significant benefit.
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