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The breath. Prana. The life force. Without breath, there is no life. It is an obvious statement but one that I look at with a new appreciation as a mother of a child with asthma.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized the bigger picture that someone living with asthma struggles with regularly. Living without feeling in control of one’s own body. Not being able to catch a breath and not always knowing when that might occur must affect a person down to his or her core. You can see how the mind/body connection can become disconnected when the body reacts without warning or the ability to control it.

My family’s personal asthma journey lead us down both a pharmaceutical path, as well as, some alternative therapies. We have traveled from steroidal creams to help subside terrible eczema to antihistamines to help with allergy triggers. We’ve occasionally stopped at oral steroids when an asthma episode was out of control and then continued onto inhaled steroids for preventative purposes. Before the meds we had tried homeopathic remedies (and when I say we I really mean my son though I am emotionally on this ride to health with him). While taking the medications my son tried acupuncture. He is in the process of getting allergy shots to remove his asthma triggers. Three shots once a week initially, now every other week for the last year. We were told that he needs to continue with shots for another year or two! We (and I mean my husband and I) are tired of all this effort and want to see our son off this medication that, although helps him breathe better, has negative side effects as most medications do.

What is a parent to do?

I decided to research. I found the information out there abundant yet confusing.

I have found a hospital study linking inhaled steroids of a certain dosage to an increased BMI in children, but the doctors I’ve confronted dismiss a connection between weight gain and these kind of drugs.

I have seen studies showing a connection between asthma sufferers and a deficiency in magnesium, but a test has never been suggested to determine if a simple vitamin supplement might help my son’s condition.

I have been told to eliminate dairy and other food from my son’s diet or to follow an anti-inflammatory diet to allow his body to heal itself. I have also found much written debunking this idea.

Most interestingly, I have read about a breathing technique that claims to help asthmatics.  Buteyko breathing teaches people a technique that changes the inflow of oxygen and outflow of Co2. Apparently, asthma suffers tend to be mouth breathers and take in too much oxygen which in turn creates too much carbon dioxide which can trigger airway passages to tighten. The amount of positive information out there is amazing. No one has ever mentioned this innocuous means to better health.

To be honest. I am frustrated. I suppose as a yoga teacher and someone who is in touch with mind, body and spirit, I question why the medical help we have experienced thus far has been so narrowly focused. I am curious about practitioners that look at the whole patient. Can the mind and controlled breathing reduce asthma and remove the need for medication? Can a vitamin help do the same. It makes me wonder how much pharmaceutical companies influence the type of health care we are exposed to. People can’t make money on breath, but maybe that is the key to turning around many health issues of today.

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