What is asthma?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that 20 million people in the US currently have asthma. Not everyone who has asthma knows it, and not everybody who has it seeks asthma treatment.

When you have asthma, two main things are happening in your lungs: the muscles around the airways are constricted and inflamed. Constriction and inflammation narrow your airways, which cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. There is increasing evidence that, if left untreated, asthma may cause a long-term decline in lung function. The underlying parts of the disease, especially the inflammation, can be there, even in the absence of symptoms. It is important, therefore, to prevent symptoms from occurring in the first place, rather than waiting until symptoms become serious. For many patients, optimal therapy requires treating both main components of asthma.

For advice on how a chiropractor can treat this condition, feel free to set up a consultation session with Dr. Riemer.

Asthma is something that is always with you, even if you are not having symptoms. So, as soon as the symptoms go away, you may stop taking their preventative medications, not realizing that the underlying problems that are causing the symptoms in the first place require daily asthma treatment. And although there are plenty of effective medications, if you don't think they are helping, and thus don't take them, then they do absolutely no good. This is a big challenge with the preventative medications we have for asthma.

What causes asthma?

There is really no known cause of asthma. A lot of effort has been put forth to try and understand if there is a genetic basis to this disease. It definitely does run in some families, but currently, there is no consistent genetic profile in people who have it versus those who don't. We are all exposed to lots of the same things and yet, not all of us have problems. A leading theory is that it is a combination of inherited risks for the disease, as well as interaction with allergens in our environment, that develop into the disease.

There are triggers that most people are aware of, especially if they have any history of allergies. These triggers include hay fever, ragweed, cut grass, and many other things that contain pollen. Triggers that people may not be as aware of are weather conditions such as high humidity, high temperatures, or very cold temperatures. All of these can be triggers for people with asthma. Infections such as the common cold and the flu can also trigger asthma symptoms. And then, finally, there is exercise, which can trigger asthma.

You can minimize some triggers by reducing the dust in your home. You should change sheets and bed linens weekly. Some air filters can be a big help in cutting down on dust in the home. In general, it's important to avoid exposure to strong fumes, cigarette smoke, and so forth. These can be irritants for people with asthma. The one that's often most difficult for patients with asthma is having in their home a beloved pet that may be triggering their asthma symptoms. The most effective way to eliminate this trigger is to not have the pet at all. Short of that, keeping your pet out of your bedroom or keeping it outside of the house can help cut down on some of the problems associated with pets.

There is no specific diet that will help improve asthma. It's important to eat a well-balanced diet and make sure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals that anyone would need, as well as plenty of rest. That makes sense for everybody, including someone who has asthma.

How can chiropractic help my asthma?

Spinal misalignments cause many health problems because vertebrae pinch important nerves and restrict their effectiveness. Dr. Ray Hayek conducted a trial at 16 treatment centers in Australia, involving 420 patients with an average age of 46, in an effort to find out what effects spinal manipulation has on symptoms such as depression and anxiety, general health status, and the levels of immunity. He tested the concentrations of both an immunoglobulin (IgA) and an immunosuppressant (cortisol) to gauge his results. Dr. Hayek was trying to prove that different forms of manual therapy (including massage) improve symptoms and lower cortisol levels in asthma patients.

Dr. Hayek reported that only the patient group that underwent spinal manipulation displayed significant improvement in asthma symptoms. Conducting only interviews at the treatment centers or being monitored at home did not yield these improvements. In addition, patients actually undergoing spinal manipulation displayed dramatic increases of IgA and decreases of cortisol even after asthma treatment had ceased, suggesting that the treatments affected the patients’ health long term. These patients were expected to ward off subsequent asthmatic attacks.

These changes not only suggest that the effects of spinal manipulation are more far-reaching than commonly believed, but that they may be more long-term as well. The gain in health achieved after spinal manipulations were performed is expected to reduce the incidence and severity of pathogenic invasion of the airways. There would be less of a risk under these circumstances of experiencing the symptoms of asthma.

Allergens and allergies

The most common immune system disorder is the allergy that occurs when the immune system overreacts to an allergen (dust, pollen, milk, dog or cat dander, strawberries, etc.) and the body produces too many neutralizing chemicals (especially histamines) in response.

What causes allergies?

There is increasing evidence that the cause of allergies is childhood vaccinations; they cause immune system hypersensitivity.

[Childhood vaccinations are responsible for] allergies and immune system abnormalities: food allergies (wheat and milk especially), arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, pernicious anemia…. Respiratory problems: asthma and SIDS (due to vagus nerve palsy).4

The medical approach

Orthodox medicine has no cure for allergies, only treatment of symptoms. Since many allergy symptoms—runny eyes, irritation, redness, fullness in the sinuses and others—are caused by histamines, antihistamines are often prescribed to dry mucous membranes. However, antihistamines can cause heart problems5 and should not be used with alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers.

The chiropractic approach

Allergy sufferers have praised chiropractic care for over a century. Chiropractic care is not a treatment for allergies though. The goal of chiropractic care is to locate and correct subluxations—serious nervous system stress. Chiropractic enables the immune system to function more effectively, something all allergy sufferers need since a nervous system with less stress functions more efficiently.

KST and allergies

After developing Koren Specific Technique (KST), I was often asked if it could address allergies. I’m happy to report that doctors are finding that KST can be used as a simple, yet powerful, procedure to help allergy sufferers.

The allergy "posture"

First the patient is analyzed and adjusted so they are cleared out: no subluxations. Now the patient is put in the "posture" of the allergy.

How is that done?

It is rather simple to do. All you do is tell the patient to think of their allergy. While they are thinking of it, their body will subluxate into their "allergy pattern."

Now the allergy pattern must be located. I have found this is best done using a dynamic bio-indicator analysis system that is quickly able to locate subluxations. Bio-indicators are used by applied kinesiology (AK); muscle weakness, directional non-force technique (DNFT™) and Activator™ (a derivative of DNFT); the short leg reflex, Toftness ™; skin autonomic response and others.

KST employs the occipital drop (OD) that was discovered by Lowell Ward, DC, developer of Spinal Column Stressology, as a bio-indicator. Dr. Ward discovered that the occiput/mastoid area of the skull will appear to lower on the left when the person is stressed by a subluxation. By using the OD, the patient does not need to lie down to be checked and there is no muscle fatigue.

To continue the allergy protocol: While the patient is thinking of their allergy, the practitioner locates the subluxations that appear. In most cases, the subluxation involves the left and right greater wings of the sphenoid (anterior) and occipital bone (inferior).

In addition, sometimes a subluxation will involve the temporal or upper thoracic.

Now, the correction.

As the patient is thinking of their allergy, their subluxations are corrected or adjusted. I find an adjusting instrument works best, as this permits the patient to stay in one position while the force/energy/information (adjustment) can be directed specifically.

Next, ask the patient to think of the allergen again. There should be no OD. If there is an OD, go through the analysis and adjustment again. You may have missed something.

Are we finished?

Not quite. We have to see if the patient’s relationship with the allergen has been completely defused. Now ask the patient to think about the allergy from a different angle. For example, tell the patient, "Imagine taking the allergen and putting it in your mouth." Then test for an OD. If you get it, locate and correct their subluxations (usually they will be the same ones you already corrected).

Try other statements to defuse the allergy. Tell the patient to imagine how they feel when they have an allergic reaction. Tell them to imagine breathing the allergen. Tell them to imagine clear sinuses or being free of other allergy symptoms.

Go through a number of these exercises until you simply can’t elicit an OD from the patient.

That’s it

It’s usually that simple. You may find an emotional reaction associated with the allergy, but that’s rare.

What exactly are we doing?

As with other allergy elimination protocols (i.e., NAET, JMT) we appear to be breaking a neurological reflex that causes the patient to overreact to an allergen.

With KST, we find that, when putting patients in the toxin posture of subluxation and adjusting them while in that posture, the allergy reflex is broken.

KST is a refinement in locating and correcting subluxations. Using KST procedures, chiropractors can easily and quickly locate and correct subluxations as they reveal themselves in any posture—physical, emotional or chemical.

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