Asthma is a common pediatric respiratory condition defined by constriction of the bronchioles, leading to subsequent wheezing and breathlessness. It can be chronic and life-altering if underlying causes are not addressed. According to the 2014 Global Asthma Report, 14% of the world's children experience asthma symptoms with genetics, allergic comorbidities, maternal health, and environment potentially contributing to its development.
Melanie was nine years old when she first presented with a recent diagnosis of asthma and was looking for alternative treatments to a steroid inhaler. It was June, the height of summer in Chicagoland, when Melanie was outside playing, and her mom noticed her wheezing and having difficulty catching her breath. They followed up with their primary care doctor, who did a chest x-ray, lung auscultation, and a pulmonary function test, which all proved normal. The breathing episode happened again a few days later, after which they consulted again with their primary and were given the asthma diagnosis and a prescription for a steroid and a rescue inhaler.
Melanie had a healthy childhood with limited illness and antibiotic use. She lived with her family and their two pet dogs in a three-year-old house with no water damage episodes. She ate a whole-food, mostly plant-based diet with occasional chicken and fish, heavy fruit intake, and limited processed foods. She was overall a very happy and active child, enjoyed playing outdoors, was enrolled in soccer yearly since age four, and had never had breathing issues previously that she could recall.
Overall, Melanie had regular, healthy digestion and no other concerning symptoms except her frequent throat clearing, sneezing, and itchy nose during the spring and fall seasons. She was not taking any medications and was only on a children's gummy multivitamin.
Initial Lab Work
GI Effects Stool Panel
- Commensal balance is good with adequate levels of beneficial microflora such as akkermansia muciniphilia, lactobacillus spp., and Bifidobacterium spp.
- Pancreatic elastase, total protein, and fecal fats were all normal
- Eosinophil protein X was moderately elevated at 1.8 (under 0.5 ideal)
- Fecal secretory IgA was also moderately elevated at 1311 (under 680 ideal)
- Negative for any potential pathogenic bacteria
The stool panel indicates a moderate level of inflammation, with the eosinophil protein specifically elevated, indicating inflammation and an allergic response. This, paired with Melanie’s food sensitivity panel and long history of seasonal allergies, indicates a high allergic propensity contributing to her recent asthma onset.
Since Melanie’s diet was already devoid of the main allergen triggers: food additives, preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors, we targeted mucus-producing foods and her now-identified food sensitivities: wheat, sugar, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, bananas, oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit. She was told to bring in more mucus-reducing foods; dry grains like chickpeas, buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa.
Full Breath (Organic India): an ayurvedic blend of respiratory herbs known to support bronchial health, mucus reduction, and gastric acid (low stomach acid is linked to increased food sensitivities, which further increases the likelihood of seasonal allergies and asthma). She was instructed to open 1 capsule and mix it with local, raw honey daily.
For mast cell stabilization to reduce histamine production, as well as reduce gut lining inflammation, a powdered Vitamin C and quercetin combination product, 10 mg of zinc, and 1 gram of EPA/DHA fish oil were recommended daily.
She enjoyed smoothies and was encouraged to brew nettle leaf tea and use it as the liquid base for those smoothies to provide additional anti-allergic support.
A HEPA air filter was brought into her bedroom, and they removed the area rug in her room, leaving wood floors.
She was instructed to do a Neti pot nasal rinse with Xlear saline nasal packets added to the filtered water after coming in from playing outside.
Follow-Up 2 Months Later
Within 2 days of beginning the protocol, Melanie noticed an improvement in her breathing, and by her second week, she was able to see a reduction in all her allergy symptoms. Her mom noted that she seemed more alert during the day and that she was sleeping deeper at night.
Labs Repeated 5 Months Later:
GI Effects Stool Panel
- Eosinophil protein X: 0.2 (under 0.5 ideal)
- Fecal secretory IgA: 522 (under 680 ideal)
At our 5-month follow-up visit, Melanie had reintroduced citrus back on a rotation basis of 1x weekly however had kept egg yolks and wheat/gluten out of her diet. She was fully resolved of all allergy symptoms after 1 month on the protocol and had not had a single episode of asthma since.
She was instructed to continue with the fish oil and vitamin C/quercetin 3x weekly, ongoing for long-term support, but to stop the Full Breath and save it for when the spring season begins.
With the high co-occurrence of asthma and seasonal allergies, the reduction of symptoms on both ends helps showcase the biochemical connection driving the two processes. Targeting mast cells and reducing histamine release while also reducing gut lining inflammation with supplemental support and a complete elimination diet provided both symptom resolution as well as visible lab improvements.
Lab Tests in This Article
- Bhusal, K. K., Magar, S. K., Thapa, R., Lamsal, A., Bhandari, S., Maharjan, R., Shrestha, S., & Shrestha, J. (2022). Nutritional and pharmacological importance of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.): A review. Heliyon, 8(6), e09717. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e09717
- Global asthma network the global asthma report. (2014). http://globalasthmareport.org/2014/Global_Asthma_Report_2014.pdf