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Asthma in Children: The Holistic Solution
By: Randall Neustaedter, L.Ac., OMD

Asthma is a growing problem among American children.  For most kids, this usually means a lifetime of asthma control drugs and possibly an inhaler. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Fortunately, holistic medical care offers a solution to asthma. Children who suffer from asthma need stronger immune mechanisms in their bodies. This can be accomplished using a combination of nutritional supplements and Chinese herbal treatment.

Treating asthma with holistic approaches can be complex and needs to be carefully managed. A number of safe and effective herbal formulas exist that can control asthma in children, replacing their inhaled bronchodilator and steroids, and simultaneously build the immune system to prevent further attacks. But it must be remembered that children cannot stop their conventional medications suddenly, and should not do so without a doctor's guidance.

There are herbal formulas that have been developed for children that are especially effective in managing asthma and other respiratory disorders. A trained herbalist will be able to prescribe the correct formula for the specific condition based on the medical history and presenting symptoms. Parents can also learn tui na techniques on the lung and ren channels and back shu points that will help to relax the airway, relieve coughing, and clear phlegm.

A constitutional approach may evaluate asthma from a five phase perspective, examining the primary focus of energetic imbalance. This imbalance may present primarily as a lung condition (weak wei Qi), as a kidney deficiency (kidneys unable to grasp Qi), as a liver condition (uprising liver Qi), as a heart disturbance (disturbed mind and movement of Qi and blood), or as a spleen problem (disturbed transformation of food), and be treated accordingly.

In their discussion of asthma, classical acupuncture texts emphasize asthma points (ding chuan and UB 13), lung points (CV 17, LU 5, 6, 7), phlegm points (ST 40, LI 4), and tonification (SP 6, KI 3, ST 36).

Supporting Therapies in the Holistic Approach

Nutritional support for asthma is especially important, including adequate supplies of vitamins A, C, D, and E, colostrum, magnesium, and an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Several important Chinese herbal formulations can also help bolster immunity in children, especially those combinations that tonify the stomach and spleen.

The emotional and energetic component of asthma treatment should not be neglected. The field of psycho neuro-immunology has revealed the important connection between emotions and the immune system. Self-regulation techniques that can help children relax include guided imagery, biofeedback, and simple deep abdominal breathing. Regular exercise, swimming, and dance training have also been shown to increase lung capacity and reduce asthma episodes.

This holistic approach to asthma will build the constitution, strengthen the immune system, improve lung function, and relieve the respiratory symptoms of cough and wheezing.

About the Author:
Dr. Randall Neustaedter has practiced holistic medicine for more than 30 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializing in child health care. He is the author of Child Health Guide and The Vaccine Guide, and the father of five children. Visit his website,, to register for a free newsletter with pediatric updates.