(These can also be applied to any breathing or lung disorder, i.e. emphysema / COPD, or for anyone seeking better health).
1. Drink plenty of (preferably filtered) water every day. Culligan (and other water treatment companies) sell whole-house reverse-osmosis filtration systems, so take advantage of those if they fit your budget. Try to reach a happy medium with your fluid intake, since excessive water consumption may undermine nutrient absorption and result in a condition called hyponatremia (low sodium levels). Shoot for eight ounces of water for each foot of height per day, as a minimum to build on.
2. Try to get the vast majority of your nutrients from whole (preferably organic) foods. Some of the best ones for asthma: red apples / onions (high in quercetin), greens (like kale), carrots, citrus fruits, pineapple, and kiwis. Reduce / eliminate the use of cow's milk and wheat, as these tend to produce mucus when consumed. Brown rice and alternative grains like quinoa are excellent. Avoid consuming overprocessed foods like white (misnamed "enriched") flour and white sugar -- and definitely shun artificial sweeteners and MSG. Those can have a neurotoxic effect. (Be sure to catch Carol Simontacchi tonight on 'Coast to Coast AM Radio -- her book 'The Crazy Makers' exposes the illness-producing factors in today's foodstuffs). And eat smaller meals, about every five hours, for best results.
3. Use supplements to further enhance health, but try to stick to reputable brands (Willner Chemists can help you choose). One of the best (and cheapest) antioxidants is grape seed extract. Coenzyme Q-10 and cordyceps (mushroom extract) are good for building endurance. And magnesium (best taken at night) is often deficient in asthmatics. Try to find the orotate or glycinate form of this nutrient, though the oxide and citrate forms are more commonly available. If possible, test which works best for you.
The Philipine government websites describe how to use lagundi, a berry from the five-leaf chaste tree. Penn Herb sells this in a liquid form, but I haven't tried it. There are many other herbal treatments, but be sure to research them well and find the best companies. Willner Chemists is America's largest nutriceutical-based pharmacy and is headquartered in NY; Vitamin Shoppe and Vitacost are two other good alternatives.
4. Work on breathing techniques. Fundamentally, it's best to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pursed-lip breathing (done while exhaling) also helps. And try to avoid too much deep breathing, as this can actually lead to hyperventilation. Instead, explore the Buteyko method, which is a shallower Zen-like technique. When you exercise (like walking), try to get "in the zone" where your breathing and gait become very natural and unified. After a while you can establish a gentle rhythm or cadence in sync with your motion.
5. Try visualization methods, yoga, and massage. There are so many "creature comfort" techniques to help relaxation; a simple warm bath is a great one. (I use an inexpensive plastic shower sprayer attached to the tap for further enhancement). Sometimes just sitting in the lotus position (if you're limber enough) can really help improve your breathing. And organizations like The Light Party have (often free) relaxation DVDs that can put you on a higher plane of ease and wellness. Or if the New Age approach is not your preference, just watch some hilarious comedies, as laughter is the best medicine!
6. Get at least fifteen minutes of sunshine every day -- this will help replenish your Vitamin D and melatonin levels.
7. Try to exercise a half-hour (or more) daily. I have a series of walks spread out throughout the day and night (but don't exercise too close to your sleep time).
8. Get a HEPA air filter (or more than one) but keep this (these) a safe distance away to avoid EMF (electromagnetic field) pollution. And definitely don't use the ionizer function! Try to minimize EMF pollution from other sources (plug-in and wireless electronic devices) as well, though this may be easier said than done!
9. Try to limit / wean yourself off of pharmaceuticals, as these tend to engender dependence and cause side effects, as well as undermining your immune system. Many can also cause nutrient depletion (Dr. Ross Pelton has a book on this) -- theophylline, for example, tends to deplete Vitamin B6. And inhalers can cause future osteoporosis -- or even fatal asthma attacks, in the case of Advair. (And that's just the tip of the iceberg!).
10. Buy a good book on nutritional treatments for asthma. The one I recently got, 'The Allergy and Asthma Cure' by Dr. Fred Pescatore, is a great overview and includes lots of recipes. My only complaint is that he includes red meat / sausage, which are not beneficial because they contain arachidonic acid (an Omega-6 oil). It is crucial to lean toward Omega-3 oils to help your breathing. I use three spoonfuls of crushed almonds / walnuts in my cereal every day, but make sure the nuts don't contain peanuts, as those contain unhealthy oils and (often) molds or aflatoxins.
11. Keep a diary of what you eat, drink and use as supplements. This provides instant feedback on what is helping and what is causing you trouble.
Once you get the right formula and find yourself in the wellness zone, be sure to share your results with others. And spread the good word -- so we can all breathe a little easier!