Los Angeles has many great things to offer – cultural diversity, beaches, the arts, museums. Unfortunately, air pollution is also part of the package. It, and other things such as food additives, genetic manipulation of plants, earlier weaning of babies and earlier introduction of solid foods may have contributed to an increase in asthma. One study showed that from 1980 to 1987, the rate of diagnosed asthma increased 43% in people younger than 20 years old.

Just about everyone knows one of the tell tale signs of asthma – a high pitched wheezing sound when the airways of the lungs become obstructed. Some other symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, painful breathing, and a tightness of the chest.

The mechanism of obstruction occurs when one or more triggers affects the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS); decreased sympathetic tone and an increase of the parasympathetic systems causes the bronchi (small air passages in the lungs) and the blood vessels in the lungs to constrict. Mucus is produced causing inflammation and swelling of the bronchial walls leading to obstruction.

Some ways to prevent asthma from occurring in children is to minimize their exposure to pollution, breast feed for at least 6 months and then introduce organic foods which have low allergenic potential. Parents who smoke need to quit, especially if there is a history of asthma or allergy in your family.

If you have already been diagnosed with asthma or have a history of allergies, there are ways to minimize attacks. Avoid all known triggers. One way may be to do an elimination diet to determine which foods may be triggers. Certain blood tests can also determine which foods you are allergic to.

Ways to minimize attacks may be to avoid sulfites, MSG, refined sugars, spicy foods, dairy, eggs, wheat, processed foods, and high fat meats which are known to be highly allergenic. Also, you may need to avoid aspirin, BHA and BHT, and food dyes. Eating lots of brown rice and other whole grains, vegetables, especially leafy greens, nuts and seeds, lean fish, and fresh fruit may minimize attacks as well.

Some supplements to support the immune system and are: * Vitamin A plus beta-carotene * B complex with extra B5 * Vitamin E * Multivitamin and mineral complex * Vitamin C plus bioflavinoids * Zinc * Calcium/ Magnesium * Raw adrenal, gland, spleen, and thymus * Co enzyme Q 10 * Evening Primrose Oil * Fish oil or Flax Seed Oil * A green drink, such as Green Magic or Green Magma.

Herbs which may be helpful include echinacea, juniper berries, licorice root, pau d’arco, garlic, blue vervain, and ground ivy. Inula graveolans oil, Lobelia, as well as magnesium may relax the muscles of the respiratory tract and reducing mucus production during an asthma attack. A few drops of a mouthwash containing glycothymaline may help to cut through the mucus.