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Asthma an inflammatory process

Histamine and Leukotriene Effects


  • Asthma is a lung condition characterized by inflammation and hypersensitivity of the airways of the lung [the bronchi].
  • In  many people a virus such as a cold, may trigger off asthma which may often present not as a wheeze but as a cough that lingers on for perhaps weeks after the cold started. This persistent cough is usually worse in the morning and night.
  • Asthma may also be triggered off by allergies, smoke in the air or cigarette smoke, exercise induced asthma or pollutants in the environment.
  • Asthma produces wheeze on expiration i.e. when you breathe out. Expiration of air causes the airways to collapse in asthmatics. See graphic opposite.

Inflammation, mucus plugs, airways smooth muscle contraction in asthma

  • Airway narrowing occurs due to a large amount of mucus that is produced by inflammation triggered off by inflammatory cells in the airway wall releasing chemicals called cytokines.
  • Airway narrowing also occurs due to contraction of the smooth muscle surrounding the airways [bronchoconstriction] due to various triggers such as allergens, smoke, air pollution, house dust mites etc. This muscle contraction is targeted by what are known as beta-agonists such as ventolin causing this airway muscle to relax. However, agents such as ventolin do not affect the main underlying problem in asthma and that is inflammation. If you only use a bronchodilator such as ventolin without using anti-inflammatory approaches, the asthma can worsen as the airways continue to become blocked by mucus plugs and swelling.
  • Numerous leukotrienes play an important role in the inflammatory cascade.
  • 'Leukotrienes (LTs) B4, C4, D4, and E4 have been shown experimentally to play a role in each of these inflammatory mechanisms and to mimic the pathologic changes seen in asthma45.'
  • Inhaled LTC4 and LTD4 are some of the most potent inhaled bronchoconstrictors known45 [the muscle around the airway goes into severe spasm with these leukotrienes].
  • LTC4, LTD4, LTE4 all seem to attach to a common receptor and so the race is on to find a pharmaceutical agent to block the action of these leukotrienes on these receptors45.

Oxidative Stress

  • The pharmaceutical approach is to block the leukotrienes after they are formed at the receptor site.
  • The diet - nutraceutical approach is to dampen down this whole pathway by reducing the amount of arachidonic acid present in cell membranes by increasing the consumption of short-chain and long-chain omega-3's
  • Use can also be made of curcumin to block the action of the LOX enzyme that leads to the production of these dangerous leukotrienes to asthmatics.
  • There is evidence to show that asthmatics may suffer lower levels of magnesium in their airways and that supplementing with magnesium may be of benefit46.
  • If inflammation is allowed to proceed unchecked, free radicals [charged electrons] and reactive oxygen species [ROS] are constantly produced in large quantities on a daily basis and this is termed oxidative stress leading to ongoing damage of the airways ultimately leading to scarring and permanent reduction in airway size.
  • Oxidative stress is slowly progressive leading to progressively worsening asthma that is poorly responsive to any treatment.

Nutraceutical Suggestions

Dietary precautions


  • Sulfite oxidase is an enzyme that converts sulfite to sulfate. This is a molybdoenzyme meaning it uses molybdenum as a cofactor enabling it to do its job.
  • Many asthmatics suffer from sulfite sensitivities and sulfite sensitivity has been linked to molybdenum deficiency.
  • SF88-Plus has this important essential trace element in the formulation to ensure molybdenum levels are maintained.

Food Allergies

  • Food allergies may be a trigger for asthma and/or may worsen background inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
  • Please check to see if you have a wheat or gluten sensitivity and your general practitioner can order tests to see if this is a possible factor. See Coeliac Disease [US Celiac Disease. 
  • You may have gluten intolerance instead of coeliac disease and HLA-DQ2 + HLADQ8 genetic testing will be able to distinguish between the two when blood antigliadin antibodies are raised. The type of blood tests ordered to check for gluten sensitivity are outlined in the link provided above.

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