Asthma is one of those health conditions — like diabetes — that have skyrocketed in the last decade. More and more people, especially children, seem to be afflicted with the breathing problems associated with asthma. All sorts of blame is being passed around to account for this sharp rise in the condition. Everything from environmental toxins, to air pollution.
Well, now there’s another possible culprit to add to the list: obesity. Researchers from Cape Town, South Africa noted that obesity and asthma are both public health problems with increasing prevalence globally. So what about a link between the two? Could it be possible that there is a clinical association between asthma and obesity?
The research team set out to assess the effect of various interventions for weight loss on measures of asthma control and weight loss amongst overweight or obese patients with chronic asthma.
In this review trial, a number of well-known medical databases were searched for relevant completed clinical trials. The researchers also searched ongoing trials, web sites and databases up to March 2012. They contacted experts in the field and searched reference lists for additional studies.
Four completed studies conducted amongst adults were included in the review. Interventions included supervised physical activity, low calorie diet, and anti-obesity drugs (singly or in combination), and were compared to usual care (two studies), and low-calorie diet (one study). One study had three intervention arms (physical activity versus low-calorie diet versus a combination of the two). Two studies were conducted in high-income countries, while two were conducted in upper, middle-income countries.
Here’s what the researchers found for an asthma-obesity link:
– One of the studies found a statistically significant reduction in symptoms scores during treatment compared to control groups.
– One study showed reduction in doses of rescue medication in treatment compared with control groups in the short term.
– Weight loss was associated with some improvement in forced expiratory volume in one second and forced vital capacity in one study, which was statistically significant.
– One study reported statistically significant weight loss in the treatment group compared to controls with no intervention, which was still significant at the one-year follow-up.
Although the researchers expressed a number of concerns about the lack of quality clinical trials, there does seem to be a link between too much weight and an increase severity of asthma symptoms.
One of the best measures take against obesity is getting some exercise every day. If you have breathing problems, get your doctor’s advice about what the best exercise would be for you given your condition.
Those in the know when it comes to folk medicine have long believed in the health secrets inherent in the boswellia tree. A new study has uncovered just how powerful an anti- inflammatory agent the herbal remedy boswellia might be.
Historically and religiously, it has gone by the name “frankincense.’ This is the resin of boswellia, burned for its fragrance in many religious ceremonies. Yet this herb can do so much more. Resin from the trunk of the boswellia tree contains powerful anti-inflammatory substances that could help fight asthma, joint pain, and dermatitis.
Much about boswellia is unknown in mainstream medicine, despite being an ancient herb used in India’s system of Ayurvedic medicine. Not surprisingly, the latest push is in Germany, which is by far the country in the Western world most open to complementary and alternative medicine.
In the latest study, German researchers showed how the “boswellic acids” (within the resin) specifically interfere with the inflammation process. It seems they interact with certain proteins that are part of the process, but also with an enzyme responsible for creating what’s called “prostaglandin E2.”
I’ll try not to get overly technical here, but “prostaglandin E2″ mediates the body’s immune response, and plays a major role in how much inflammation occurs. It also is directly linked to any fever or pain you develop. So, the study found that boswellia blocks the enzyme, thus limiting inflammation (and perhaps pain and fever as well).
And of course, boswellia is a herbal remedy that has fewer and less dangerous side effects than today’s anti- inflammatory drugs. Plus, drugs’ impact may be less specific, so they increase the risk of stomach ulcers and can harm the kidney’s function.
So, which kind of resin works best? There are more than 10 boswellia species in the world. The most well-known and widely-used one is the “Boswellia serrate” from Northern and central India. Yet the researchers found that resin from the “Boswellia papyrifera” is 10 times more potent. This species mostly occurs in the Northeast of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia) and on the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen, Oman).
Here is the rub: boswellia trees are an endangered tree species and many societies use them just as heating fuel. This is medicine literally going up in smoke. We need to act to save the boswellia species, which could offer so much potential in natural medicine.
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