10% of US kids are thought to
be diagnosed with Pediatric Asthma and 80-90%
of these kids have their first symptoms by the
time they are 4 or 5 years of age.
What is Asthma?
As one type of allergy, asthma
is a hyper-reactive immune response. But in this
case the response is severe enough that it destroys
actual tissue and structure. Here you have bronchial
smooth muscle spasms, airway swelling and inflammation,
and the copious production of mucus that obstructs
air passage. Symptoms include: wheezing, coughs
worse at night and in the morning, chest tightness,
shortness of breath. Asthma is often triggered
by air or food allergens, environmental irritants,
exercise, emotional stress, medications, etc.
Conventional Western treatment
consists of bronchodilators and inhaled steroids.
While steroids are very effective anti-inflammatories,
their long-term use can lead to growth and immune
system suppression. Bronchodilators like Advair
and Symbicort which contain salmeterol, are NOT
for use during acute attacks and though they are
designed for chronic use, their long-term and
regular use has been shown to increase the severity
of asthma attacks and can even lead to heart conditions.
Albuterol, another bronchodilator, designed for
immediate acute relief during an attack can be
a life-saver. But be aware of the possible side
effects: nervousness, tremors, dry irritated mouth
and throat, coughing, dizziness, headaches, insomnia,
nausea, chest pains and irregular heart beats.
Check with your pediatrician about
Vitamin D. Recent research has
shown that kids with asthma are deficient in Vitamin
D. The most reliable way to increase Vitamin D
levels is through 20 minutes of sun exposure for
20 minutes a day, just long enough until skin
turns slightly pink. Avoid getting sunburned.
Using sunscreen can interfere with Vitamin D production
in that sunscreen blocks both UV A and B with
UV B being necessary for Vit D production. After
20 minutes, Vit D production maximizes.
Other recommendations include
mild to moderate exercise in
between attacks and maintaining a healthy
diet (as listed on my Treating Kids page)
and lifestyle changes that support a strong immune
Ideal for self-care at home is
acupressure. It is not only therapeutically
effective, but it is also a good opportunity to
engage with your child in a different manner,
with a loving and intentional touch. Gently rub
the following points:
During acute attacks:
Calm Wheezing: massage vigorously the top of the
spine where it meets the shoulders, just next
to the most prominent vertebrae
Massage upper back between the shoulder blades
Massage the center of the chest between the nipples.
Massage inner forearms, halfway between the wrist
St 36: major immune point.
For prevention in between
attacks, use the Miriam Lee Tune-Up, rubbing
each point in order for 5 minutes each, twice
a day. This is the treatment I use in my office
to strengthen digestion, boost the immune system
and treat allergies and the common cold.
Spleen 6: inside lower leg just above the ankle
Stomach 36: just below the knee, in the depression
lateral to the tibial crest
Large Intestine 11: in the depression at the lateral
Lung 7: just proximal to the wrist behind the
Large Intestine 4: in the webbing between the
index finger and the thumb.
When you and your child come to
see me in my office, I prescribe Chinese
Medicinal Herbs to improve respiratory
function, decrease inflammation, clear phlegm,
repair any damaged bronchial tissue, clear any
lingering lung infections, and strengthen digestion
and overall immunity. I will also use acupuncture
as needed for acute episodes and symptomatic relief.
With asthma the overall goal is
to free the respiratory system from any unnecessary
irritants like poor food choices or environmental
contaminants and then clean up the damage. When
we can decrease the severity of each attack and
increase the time in between each one, then your
child stands a better chance of developing a stronger
and healthier immune system. And just like with
allergies, start with better food choices and
use Western and Eastern medicine as you need for
additional support and help.