Saturday, May 22, 2010


Halo therapy belongs to the category of the physical therapies--non-drug treatments of diseases, many associated with the spa treatments of Eastern Europe. In the former Soviet Union, medical researchers engaged in a concerted effort to develop physical therapies in order to avoid the costs and side effects of drug therapy as well as microbial and tumor resistance. Russia has become the world leader in developing and testing new and increasingly effective physical therapies.

Most of the dozens of clinical trials thus far, mainly reported in Russian-language journals, have focused on HT as a treatment of asthma and chronic bronchitis. But HT may also be effective as a main or adjuvant therapy across the entire range of upper and lower respiratory tract diseases and potentially against systemic diseases as well. Respiratory diseases are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Asthma has become ever more prevalent in industrialized societies, with special impact on children. Meanwhile, cigarette smoking has spread chronic bronchitis and emphysema everywhere; in developing countries biomass cooking smoke has a similar devastating impact on women and children. The situation in especially bad in China, with its 350 million smokers and terrible air pollution. Most drug therapies of respiratory diseases have only palliative effects, and many have significant side effects. So a physical therapy like HT is much needed.

Hookworm Therapy

New York Times has an article today on medicine's favorite kind of researcher: the self-infecting scientist. Scientists throughout history have made amazing discoveries by intentionally infecting themselves with deadly pathogens. Stories are often told of the brazen heroics of John Hunter giving himself gonorrhea and syphilis, or even more recently of Barry Marshall drinking a concoction of H. Pylori to prove that it caused gastritis.

The latest in this distinguished line of masochistic research is Dr. David Pritchard. In his past research. Dr. Pritchard noticed that people infected with hookworms didn't seem to suffer from asthma and hay fever as much as non-infected individuals. His testing in animal models produced unpredictable results, leading him to the conclusion that the only way to do this right would be to let 50 or so worms crawl in through his skin quite painfully. The pain and diarrhea that followed changed the recommended worm dose from 50 to 10.

Alair Bronchial Thermoplasty

The Alair Bronchial Thermoplasty System from Asthmatx, has now received FDA approval. Indication is currently limited to the treatment of severe persistent asthma in patients 18 years and older whose asthma is not well controlled with inhaled corticosteroids and long acting beta agonists, the current standard-of-care treatment for these patients. Thermoplasty is the first approved non-drug treatment for asthma.


Desensitization or hyposensitization is a treatment in which the patient is gradually vaccinated with progressively larger doses of the allergen in question. This can either reduce the severity or eliminate hypersensitivity altogether. It relies on the progressive skewing of IgG antibody production, to block excessive IgE production seen in atopys. In a sense, the person builds up immunity to increasing amounts of the allergen in question. Studies have demonstrated the long-term efficacy and the preventive effect of immunotherapy in reducing the development of new allergy. Meta-analyses have also confirmed efficacy of the treatment in allergic rhinitis in children and in asthma. A review by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester confirmed the safety and efficacy of allergen immunotherapy for allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis, allergic forms of asthma, and stinging insect based on numerous well-designed scientific studies. Additionally, national and international guidelines confirm the clinical efficacy of injection immunotherapy in rhinitis and asthma, as well as the safety, provided that recommendations are followed.

A second form of immunotherapy involves the intravenous injection of monoclonal anti-IgE antibodies. These bind to free and B-cell associated IgE; signalling their destruction. They do not bind to IgE already bound to the Fc receptor on basophils and mast cells, as this would stimulate the allergic inflammatory response. The first agent of this class is Omalizumab. While this form of immunotherapy is very effective in treating several types of atopy, it should not be used in treating the majority of people with food allergies.

A third type, Sublingual immunotherapy, is an orally-administered therapy which takes advantage of oral immune tolerance to non-pathogenic antigens such as foods and resident bacteria. This therapy currently accounts for 40 percent of allergy treatment in Europe. In the United States, sublingual immunotherapy is gaining support among traditional allergists and is endorsed by doctors who treat allergy.

Allergy shot treatment is the closest thing to a ‘cure’ for allergic symptoms. This therapy requires a long-term commitment.

Hygiene hypothesis

According to the hygiene hypothesis, proposed by David P. Strachan, allergic diseases are caused by inappropriate immunological responses to harmless antigens driven by a TH2-mediated immune response. Many bacteria and viruses elicit a TH1-mediated immune response, which down-regulates TH2 responses. The first proposed mechanism of action of the hygiene hypothesis stated that insufficient stimulation of the TH1 arm of the immune system lead to an overactive TH2 arm, which in turn led to allergic disease. In other words, individuals living in too sterile an environment are not exposed to enough pathogens to keep the immune system busy. Since our bodies evolved to deal with a certain level of such pathogens, when it is not exposed to this level the immune system will attack harmless antigens, and thus normally benign microbial objects, like pollen, will trigger an immune response.The hygiene hypothesis was developed to explain the observation that hay fever and eczema, both allergic diseases, were less common in children from larger families, which were presumably exposed to more infectious agents through their siblings, than in children from families with only one child. The hygiene hypothesis has been extensively investigated by immunologists and epidemiologists and has become an important theoretical framework for the study of allergic disorders. It is used to explain the increase in allergic diseases that has been seen since industrialization, and the higher incidence of allergic diseases in more developed countries. The hygiene hypothesis has now expanded to include exposure to symbiotic bacteria and parasites as important modulators of immune system development, along with infectious agents.Epidemiological data support the hygiene hypothesis. Studies have shown that various immunological and autoimmune diseases are much less common in the developing world than the industrialized world and that immigrants to the industrialized world from the developing world increasingly develop immunological disorders in relation to the length of time since arrival in the industrialized world. Longitudinal studies in the third world demonstrate an increase in immunological disorders as a country grows more affluent and, presumably, cleaner. The use of antibiotics in the first year of life has been linked to asthma and other allergic diseases. The use of antibacterial cleaning products has also been associated with higher incidence of asthma, as has birth by Caesarean section rather than vaginal birth.

What is allergy?

Allergy is a disorder of the immune system often also referred to as atopy. Allergic reactions occur to normally harmless environmental substances known as allergens; these reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid. Strictly, allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity and is called type I (or immediate) hypersensitivity. It is characterized by excessive activation of certain white blood cells called mast cells and basophils by a type of antibody known as IgE, resulting in an extreme inflammatory response. Common allergic reactions include eczema, hives, hay fever, asthma attacks, food allergies, and reactions to the venom of stinging insects such as wasps and bees.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Buteyko Breathing Technique

Buteyko Breathing Technique is a practice used for the treatment of asthma. Although variations exist among teachers of the technique in different countries, the three core principles of Buteyko remain the same: Reduced breathing, nasal breathing and relaxation reduced Breathing Exercises The core Buteyko exercises involve breath control; consciously reducing either breathing rate or breathing volume. Many teachers refer to Buteyko as 'breathing retraining' and compare the method to learning to ride a bicycle. Once time has been spent practicing, the techniques become instinctive and the exercises are gradually phased out as the condition improves. A common theme in Buteyko exercise is to hold one's breath until it is uncomfortable - producing a feeling of air hunger. This feeling mimics the feeling of breathlessness that asthmatics typically experience during an asthma attack.Rather than using traditional peak flow measurements to monitor the condition of asthmatics, Buteyko uses an exercise called the Control Pause (CP), defined as the amount of time that an individual can comfortably hold breath after a normal exhalation. With regular Buteyko reduced-breathing practice, asthmatics tend to find that their CP gradually increases and in parallel their asthma symptoms decrease.Nasal BreathingThe Buteyko method emphasizes the importance of nasal breathing, which protects the airways by humidifying, warming, and cleaning the air entering the lungs. In addition, breathing through the nose helps the body to maintain higher concentrations of carbon dioxide and nitric oxide in the lungs.A majority of asthmatics have problems sleeping at night, and this is thought to be linked with poor posture or unconscious mouth-breathing. By keeping the nose clear and encouraging nasal breathing during the day, night-time symptoms can also improve. Other methods of encouraging nasal breathing are full-face CPAP machines - commonly used to treat sleep apnea - or using a jaw-strap or paper-tape to keep the mouth closed during the night. However, a study in 2009 showed that nasal breathing alone was not enough to cause an improvement in asthma symptoms.Strictly nasal breathing during physical exercise is another key element of the Buteyko method. A study in 2008 found that it made exercise safer for asthmatics. While breathing through the nose-only, asthmatics could attain a work intensity great enough to produce an aerobic training effect. Relaxation Dealing with asthma attacks is an important factor of Buteyko practice. The first feeling of an asthma attack is unsettling and can result in a short period of rapid breathing. By controlling this initial over-breathing phase, asthmatics can prevent a "vicious circle of over-breathing" from developing and spiraling into an asthma attack. This means that asthma attacks may be averted simply by breathing less.Teachers note that the method is not a substitute for medical treatment and reliever medication should be kept handy at all times and used as required. Reduction of medication should be done under supervision of the doctor prescribing the medication, as some steroids and other drugs should not be ceased too quickly. This aspect of Buteyko is merely a change in lifestyle that can minimize the chance of an attack occurring and reduce the severity by remaining calm and in control of breathing.

Asthma Causes

No one really knows the causes of asthma. What we do know is that asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. The causes of asthma symptoms can vary for different people. Still, one thing is consistent with asthma: when airways come into contact with an asthma trigger, the airways become inflamed, narrow, and fill with mucus.

When you have an asthma attack, spasms of the muscles around the airways, inflammation and swelling of the mucosal membrane lining the airways, and excessive amounts of mucus contribute to airway narrowing. This makes airway resistance increase and the work of breathing more difficult, causing shortness of breath, cough, and wheezing. You may have coughing with asthma because of the irritation inside the airway and the body’s attempt to clean out the accumulations of thick mucus.

So why do you have asthma and your friend doesn’t? No one really knows for sure. We do know that allergies play a role in many people with asthma but not in all. As with allergy, you can blame your family history, as there is a strong genetic component for asthma.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning.

Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts in childhood. In the United States, more than 22 million people are known to have asthma. Nearly 6 million of these people are children.


The airways are tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. People who have asthma have inflamed airways. This makes the airways swollen and very sensitive. They tend to react strongly to certain substances that are breathed in.

When the airways react, the muscles around them tighten. This causes the airways to narrow, and less air flows to your lungs. The swelling also can worsen, making the airways even narrower. Cells in the airways may make more mucus than normal. Mucus is a sticky, thick liquid that can further narrow your airways.