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Asthma 25 July 2009

Asthma is caused by excessive bronchial hyper-reactiveness. That means that something causes the airways of the lungs to inappropriately narrow. The mainstays of treatment are bronchial dilators (such as ventolin) and steroids (to reduce inflammation). The question is, what is causing the tubes of the lungs to constrict? The answer is NOT a deficiency in bronchial dilators and steroids. They are symptomatic treatments which do not address the underlying cause. Sure there is inflammation in the lungs, but we need to ask what is causing the inflammation. And the answer- allergies and fungus.

Both food and inhaled allergies can cause the tubes of the lungs to inappropriately constrict and asthma can completely disappear when these irritants are avoided. In my experience, the most common food irritants include dairy, wheat, yeast, preservatives and food colourings. Sugar is also a problem, less commonly as an allergen but because it is frequently contaminated with mould and their mycotoxins.

Fungus (mould and yeast) are a completely overlooked cause of asthma. They can cause asthma either because the person is allergic to fungus they have developed or because they have an actual undiagnosed fungal infection of their lungs. Dr HF Kauffman wrote a review entitled “Review of Fungus Induced Asthmatic Reactions” in the June 1995 edition of the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine. In it he states that asthma can be caused by “colonisation of the mucous-epithelial surface of the lungs by virulent protease producing fungi.” He also states that the fungi damages the lungs- “the exaggerated inflammatory response damages epithelial cells resulting in inefficient elimination of the microorganisms and damage to matrix proteins of the lung tissue by proteases released by the fungi and degranulating eosinophils.” He states that steroids help in asthma because they dampen the inflammatory response to the fungi and that young children are more severely affected because they are less proficient at clearing fungi from their airways. He proposes that “insufficient treatment of fungal asthma may result in damage to the bronchial mucosa and formation of bronchiectasis.”

Antibiotics (which by killing off the good bacteria in the gut and therefore causing fungal intestinal infections) increase the risk of asthma in children nine times (New Scientist, 2003). Research has confirmed it is the disruption to the normal gut flora which causes this increased risk of asthma (Infection and Immunity, Jan 2005).

Is this common? Well Dr Carol Kauffman published a paper “Nonresolving pneumonia: Is endemic mycoses to blame?” in the November 1995 Journal of Respiratory Diseases and stated in it that “each year in the US, fungi cause more pulmonary infections than bacteria.” The next question I bet you have is- well can people with normal immune systems get fungal infections of their lungs? Good question. The answer is absolutely. The textbook Principles and Practices of Clinical Mycology states that “fungi routinely infect persons with apparently normal immunity.”

For more information see:

Food Allergies

Fungus

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