By Doctor Mark Hyman
The question this week is, “what causes asthma and what can I do about it? How do I get rid of these terrible symptoms that I have?”
Asthma is a big problem. It affects 8.4 percent of the population or over 25 million Americans (including many children), and it’s increasing every day in America.
Why? For a number of reasons: increasing environmental toxins, increasing pollution, increases in food sensitivities and gut problems, food additives and dyes, increasing use of antibiotics and medications, and increasing consumption of Frankenfoods with altered proteins and other strange ingredients. All these things can trigger asthma.
So, what can we do about it? Functional Medicine is medicine by cause not by symptom. We focus on finding the root cause, while most conventional treatment focuses on just suppressing the symptoms.
I saw a patient in the other day. She was 42 years old. She had actually died twice from respiratory symptoms due to her allergies. We call it anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergy reaction.
She had to be coded with paddles to revive her. She was taking 42 different sprays, pills, and potions every day, which had been prescribed by top doctors at Harvard. She had seen the lung doctor, the immunologist, and the allergist. Everybody was trying to fix her and no one could, because they weren’t asking the right questions. They were trying to suppress the inflammation rather than trying to address the cause of the inflammation, a very different perspective. That’s the perspective we take in Functional Medicine: getting to the root cause.
When this patient came to see me, I ran some tests in order to understand exactly what was irritating her immune system. I looked for the common causes and asked a few simple questions. Is it food allergies? Is it environmental allergens? Is it mold? Is there something wrong with the bacteria and microbes in her gut? Is it a toxin? What about stress or a poor diet? All of these things are potential triggers for asthma and all chronic disease.
In her case, I found out that she had very high antibodies to gluten, an indication that she had celiac disease, which turned out to be the root cause of her asthma. This was completely missed by the top medical school and university in the country, because they don’t think that food might have something to do with disease. It’s just not something they are taught to look for in medical school.
One Harvard doctor said to me, “if food was medicine, I would have learned about it in medical school”.
So, what did I do for her? I simply removed the things that were causing the problem. I got rid of the gluten, cleaned up her gut, and got rid of the bad bugs. Then, I put in good bugs and nutrients, like fish oil, vitamin C, and zinc. A few simple things helped restore and balance her body, and within six weeks, she was off every medication, she had no symptoms, no allergies, no hives, and no asthma.
We have a very simple rule in Functional Medicine: if you’re standing on a tack, it takes a lot of aspirin to make it feel better. Get the tack out, and you don’t need the aspirin. That’s really the focus of Functional Medicine—fixing the cause.
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