Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Connecting the Dots: Asthma and Vitamin D deficiency

If I could ask Oprah Winfrey to fund just one act of philanthropy, it would be this:
1. Identify a group of African-Americans who have been diagnosed as asthmatic in each of the following cities: Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, New York, and Boston. Make sure the sample group in each city is scientifically significant, and that all of the group members are currently using prescribed inhalers for a chronic asthma condition.
2. Test the blood Vitamin D levels in all the group members in all seven cities.
3. Under a physician's supervision, give mega-dose Vitamin D therapy to all group members anywhere who are found to be Vitamin D deficient with objectively measured blood Vitamin D levels below the normal range.
4. After the Vitamin D therapy has succeeded in raising the blood Vitamin D levels into the normal range and that success has been verified by a subsequent blood test, determine whether the original asthma condition still exists in each group member who underwent therapy.

My expectation is that Vitamin D therapy will cure asthma in African-Americans in such dramatic fashion that some will call it a miracle.

Steven A. Sylwester

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March 2008

Connecting the Dots: Asthma and Vitamin D deficiency

I am not a physician. Anyone reading this who is intrigued by the information should seek advice and guidance from a physician who is educated in nutrition before beginning self-treatment. Though vitamins and calcium do not require prescriptions, determining correct dosages for optimum benefit requires knowledge that is not self-evident.

My mother developed asthma in her late teenage years and has suffered from it since then. My youngest brother was born with serious asthma. Another brother has had episodes of asthma in his adulthood. I developed a serious asthma condition during adolescence that required ongoing medical therapy into my mid-20s. Consequently, I was not surprised when my youngest daughter was born with serious food allergies that eventually progressed to wheezing and finally to asthma.

Asthma is scary, and is also potentially life threatening. When I was a child, my mother almost died one night from an asthma attack. Growing up, I can remember my mother trying to calm and comfort my youngest brother as he struggled to breathe during the asthma attacks that plagued his childhood. When I developed exercise-induced asthma as an adolescent, I came to know firsthand what it feels like to not be able to breathe.

My youngest daughter had seasonal allergies that manifested in mild asthma, and exercised-induced asthma that sometimes crossed the threshold to something scary. One night, what was scary suddenly became urgent, and we ended up in the local hospital emergency room. After that, my youngest daughter started regularly using a prescription inhaler to control what had become a chronic condition. She was in 4th grade then.

As it happened, my youngest daughter was under the occasional care of a local physician who specializes in preventive medicine. This physician embraces all sorts of alternative medicine in his practice, and is willing to give credibility to treatments that are outside the mainstream. I first encountered homeopathy through a remedy given to my youngest daughter by this physician that was truly miraculous in its effectiveness.

But the story of how my youngest daughter was cured of asthma by this physician beats all. The cure is so simple and potentially so helpful to others that I must finally share it with others through this letter. I am telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in what follows. The story is a connect-the-dots story that will be unbelievable to most readers, but it is nonetheless absolutely true.

My youngest daughter was born with a very serious cow milk allergy that manifested in horrible, unbearably itchy, skin rashes. As a baby, my youngest daughter was often just miserable in discomfort, and she regularly scratched herself until she bled. A local reputable pediatrician wanted to prescribe cortisone creams, and assured us that nothing my wife was eating or drinking could possibly be affecting my youngest daughter through my wife’s breast milk. We obtained a second opinion from the preventive medicine physician who categorically disagreed with the pediatrician. Following the preventive medicine physician’s advice, my wife eliminated all cow-dairy from her own diet along with mushrooms and all fermented food and drink, and my youngest daughter’s skin rashes entirely vanished as a consequence.

It is a plain certainty to me that a mother's personal diet impacts her breast milk, and that allergens in the mother's diet can pass along to the breastfeeding child through the breast milk.

Now fast forward approximately ten years. When the preventive medicine physician discovered that my youngest daughter was using prescribed inhalers for asthma, he convinced us to have my youngest daughter’s blood tested for Vitamin D. The dots he connected were these:
1. Because my youngest daughter’s diet had never included any cow-dairy products and because her regular drink was water, she consequently was not eating or drinking anything Vitamin D-fortified.
2. We live in Eugene, Oregon, which is famously cloudy during much of the year, so natural Vitamin D from sunlight exposure was likely insufficient.
3. In the alternative medicine literature, there are references to Vitamin D deficiency being a cause of asthma.

Well, sure enough, the blood test results revealed that my youngest daughter’s Vitamin D levels were significantly below the normal range; she was clearly Vitamin D deficient by the simple objective measure of a blood test. Consequently, the preventive medicine physician prescribed an intensive daily regimen of vitamins, calcium, cod liver oil, and flax oil to boost my youngest daughter’s blood Vitamin D level into the normal range, and then backed off the regimen a bit after the normal range was achieved. The outcome of this treatment was and remains absolutely stunning: my youngest daughter was completely cured of asthma!

It is now seven or eight years later, and the asthma has never returned. My youngest daughter exercises vigorously without wheezing. She can be exposed to cold and drafts without wheezing. And she goes through all local season changes without wheezing, and the Willamette Valley in Oregon where we live is perhaps the worst place in the entire United States to live if you suffer from hay fever. No wheezing. No asthma. Instead, uninterrupted good health throughout the year!

I cannot be more emphatic than this: Wheezing had become an established expected reality in my youngest daughter’s life, especially exercise-induced wheezing that would invariably trigger an episode of asthma. The condition was bad enough and so predictable that we had reached a point of keeping my youngest daughter home from school during the school’s annual walk-a-thon fund-raisers because her participation in a mere walk-a-thon guaranteed several days of asthma. From this she was cured!

My youngest daughter still takes her vitamins faithfully every day, but she has not used an inhaler at all —not even once— since her blood Vitamin D level was raised to the normal level seven or eight years ago. When we told this story to a local reputable physician who is an allergy and asthma specialist, that physician responded by saying she had never before heard of a connection between Vitamin D deficiency and asthma. The preventive medicine physician had told us back when he first recommended the Vitamin D blood test that physicians in general almost never test blood Vitamin D levels. He was telling the truth. The allergy and asthma specialist we talked with had never tested a patient’s blood Vitamin D level either before or after diagnosing and treating for asthma. Never!

So what is to be done?

These are the dots that can be connected in the general population:
1. Milk consumption is declining nationwide, so fewer and fewer people have Vitamin D-fortified drink as part of their regular diet.
2. A vast majority of African Americans are lactose intolerant as a consequence of racial trait and therefore do not drink any Vitamin D-fortified milk at all.
3. Dark-skinned African Americans have a biological destiny that has equipped their physical bodies for equatorial living in which ongoing regular near full-body sun exposure is common. The dark skin pigments of these people require significantly more sun exposure to obtain any natural Vitamin D. In their natural habitat of the equator zone, this is not a problem. However, when these people relocate to the northern latitudes of the United States and Canada where there is less hot sun and consequently colder temperatures that require full-body clothing during much of the year, the problem of natural Vitamin D deficiency as a consequence of limited sun exposure becomes huge!
4. Asthma is becoming more and more a problem in the United States, especially in the African American population.

Web site references:

Until a large scientific study is done to clearly identify the asthma and Vitamin D deficiency connection, asthmatic people can help themselves by having their blood Vitamin D level tested by a physician. If a blood Vitamin D level is found to be below the normal range, that blood level can be safely raised through a physician-directed vitamin therapy regimen — and that alone could cure asthma!

Steven A. Sylwester