Recent research,  mostly in the past two years, supports the idea that two naturally available ingredients have come up as potential help against Asthma:   Ginger and Vitamin D

  • About Vitamin D:

Why would it work?

The mechanisms by which vitamin D acts to control Asthma symptoms are not yet well  understood [1], and  most study are of the epidemiology type: It is observed that  in locations were there is increased intake of vitamin D [2], the pulmonary functions are better.

However, one research [3] targeted the  specific action mechanisms of  vitamin D on asthma, and the results were interesting.

Quoting them:

“…We summarize the evidence that 1,25(OH)D has receptors in multiple lung cell types and acts to abrogate asthma by several mechanisms: promoting lung immunity, decreasing inflammation, slowing cell cycling, reducing hyperplasia… Put together, there is compelling evidence for the role of vitamin D in asthma…”

Translating the technical quote:  There are many vitamin D receptors in the lungs’ cells, and they promote lung health by regulating absorption and synthesis of vitamin D. This means that the lungs could be sensitive to vitamin D  balance in the body (homeostasis)

This the most direct research results we have found on the protective role of vitamin D for lung health and against asthma:

Many studies are also concerned about the impact of vitamin D on food allergies, the positive action of vitamin D  for infants was documented in a more specific study.

Quoting the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology [4]: “Infants of Australian-born parents, but not of parents born overseas, with vitamin D insufficiency (≤50 nmol/L) were more likely to be peanut [allergic]…infants with vitamin D insufficiency were more likely to have multiple food allergies  rather than a single food allergy”

Since there is a definite connection between allergies and Asthma, as outlined in papers such as [5,6], the vitamin D connection is further suspected.

So, should we rush to large doses of vitamin D?

A word of caution:

I have written extensively on vitamin D in this blog, particularly about it impact on Heart Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. The dosage of vitamin D supplementation is not without controversy, and too much could result in vascular calcification [7]. How much is considered too much varies between 4000 and 10000 IU /day, some even claim 40,000 is ok.  This variability demands caution.

So vitamin D supplementation for people with Allergies/Asthma issues, but talk to your health practitioner about dosages for you.

  • About Ginger:

Ginger is the rhizome [core of the root]  of the plant Zingiber officinale, and has been used by many Asian cultures as food and medicine. It has many entries in the LiveStrong health Website [8].

GingerThe Ginger Root

Why would it help against asthma and allergies?

Quoting the American Journal of Respiratory cells and molecular biology [10]:

“… ginger and its active components induce bronchodilation by modulating intracellular calcium ([Ca(2+)](i)) in airway smooth muscle (ASM)…”

Bronchodilatation is the opposite effect of asthma which  is the result of chronic inflammation of the airways, and, subsequently results in increased contractility of the smooth muscles surrounding the lung pathways.

Asthma_before-after-en.svgEffect of Asthma on the Lung airways

From [10,11] data show that Ginger’s isolated active components, [6]-gingerol, [8]-gingerol, and [6]-shogaol, relax ASM, and [8]-gingerol attenuates airway hyperresponsiveness, in part by altering [Ca(2+)](i) regulation.]

Translating this highly technical language:

The Ginger components help  free calcium concentration, and communication between cells. Such communication is involved in pulmonary vasoconstriction and asthma.

So, here you have it, Ginger was shown to help asthma.

 There are always people who will have a reaction to a type of food. However, ginger is on the FDA  “generally recognized as safe” list [12]

So Livestrong recommend Asthmatic patients use it as a tea [13].  But the most complete discussion about Ginger can be found at the NCBI Library [14]

It seems that Ginger’s beneficial actions against asthma are better understood than vitamin D, and with less controversy.

Talk to your Doctor.

Sources:

  1. Dermatoendocrinology ; “Vitamin D and Asthma” ; 2012

  2. Pulmonology, Diet and vitamin D as risk factors for lung impairment and COPD ; may 2013

  3. Journal of Investigative Medicine ; “Mechanism of action of vitamin D in the asthmatic lung.”

  4. Current Opinion Allergy and Clinical immunology ; “Food allergy: the perspectives of prevention using vitamin D.” ;2013

  5. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology ; “Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with challenge-proven food allergy in infants.” ; Feb. 2013

  6. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology ; “Food allergy and the development of asthma symptoms.” ; July 2012

  7. medinewsdigest ; “”The Double Edge of vitamin D Supplementation: From Heart disease to Multiple Sclerosis”, Oct 2012

  8. LiveStrong ; Ginger

  9. LiveStrong ; “Ginger and Asthma Inflammation” ; Jan 2011

  10. American Journal of Respiratory cells and molecular biology; “Effects of ginger and its constituents on airway smooth muscle relaxation and calcium regulation.” ; Feb 2013

  11. California Institute For Regenerative Medicine; CIRM ; “Regulation of ca(2+) signaling in pulmonary hypertension.” ; 2013

  12. Critical reviews In Food Science and Nutrition ; “An impression on current developments in the technology, chemistry, and biological activities of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe).” ; 2012

  13. Livestrong ; “Ginger Tea for asthma” ; Jul 2011

  14. NCBI ; The Amazing and mighty Ginger ; 2011

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