A few weeks ago I was asked by your editor to write an article about asthma. Having seen the premier of the television series Revolution, she was inspired by it and emailed me. As I am one of a growing number of people who doesn’t own a television, she had to explain the nuts and bolts of it to me. It is a great premise, actually.
She writes: “This is a new series about America, fifteen years after an EMP attack takes out the power grid and all electronics. The country is divided and ruled by militia and small ragtag communities and groups. Everyone is living in self-sustaining communities with no power or modern conveniences, including modern medicine. One of the characters has severe asthma. It makes for an interesting question… what do you do for asthma ‘off grid?’ I know you have asthma and wrote something last April, but is there any new information on natural remedies for asthma?”
As it happens, yes! I wouldn’t exactly call it new, but it is new to me. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about alternative medicines for conditions (both chronic and acute). Perhaps it is because I have this very odd relationship with asthma that I hadn’t been up on the latest treatment that has been around for probably a thousand years or more. Successfully used by the indigenous people who live along the Amazon, there is a tree that promises not to treat the symptoms of asthma, but actually cure it. No, not “cure,” or even cure*; I said cure. Of course, because this was not something created in a lab by our friends in Big Pharma, it has long been dismissed, even considered harmful, until they decided to perform studies and realized, hey, maybe these so-called poorly educated people who have lived off the land for centuries know a thing or two about medicine. Like “discovering” the incredibly versatile chia seed, Western doctors are, as usual, 500 to 1000 years late to the party.
The reason I am so late to the party is that “my asthma,” as I like to refer to it, remained dormant for forty years until I moved to the tropics. “My asthma” is like a bad date; he only shows up when I have an upper respiratory infection, exercise too hard, or am under heavy stress. I am not the norm. Most people who suffer from asthma have it when they wake up and throughout the day and live in fear of an attack, which can be fatal.
Asthma In Brief
If you have asthma, you are probably very familiar with the telltale signs of an attack. That tightening sensation in the chest… breathlessness… chronic coughing and wheezing that just doesn’t ever seem to go away. These are all symptoms that millions of other Americans suffer from almost every single day. Asthma continues to grow, from 20 million of the American population suffering from it in 2001 to 25 million in 2009 – and the number only continues to increase.
But what’s causing the rise in asthma? Many say that there’s absolutely no explanation available that can enlighten us as to how the number of asthma sufferers grew by 5 million Americans in less than a ten-year period. Dr. Harold Nelson, a professor of medicine at the asthma and allergy specialty hospital of National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado believes that there are two important factors that may be causing the rise in asthma amongst people living in Western countries:
- Lack of exposure to vitamin D
- An increase of use of household sprays and cleansers
He notes that the rates of asthma are a staggering fifty times higher in Western countries than in other countries, such as those living on the African continent.
Other Common Asthma Triggers
There are some well-known triggers out there that will cause asthma attacks in individuals, such as:
- Dust mites
- Second-hand smoke
- Perfumes and fragrances
- Pet dander
- Strong chemical odors
- Poor air quality/pollution
- Cold air
- Upper respiratory infections
The best way to treat your asthma, according to Western medicine, is prevention. So if you are being affected by any of these known triggers, then it is best to avoid them as much as possible. Some are nearly impossible, of course. Another great investment for anyone suffering from asthma is a good quality HEPA air purifier that will help keep the air in the home as clean and as free from irritants as possible. If spending between $60 and $500 is not high up on your list of priorities, you can also minimize triggers by:
- Sweeping daily
- Dusting daily
- Brushing your pets daily
Corticosteroids: Friend Or Foe?
We are all quite familiar with what happens when someone has an asthma attack: out comes the inhaler. Those of us who suffer from asthma are all well acquainted with these inhalers that contain corticosteroids. The corticosteroids, also referred to as a “controller,” helps reduce the swelling of the airways so that we are able to breathe when we have an asthma attack. As with everything made by Big Pharma, there are some side effects associated with inhalers:
- Sore throat
- Hoarse voice
- Momentary feeling of being “high”
- Nasty taste in the mouth
- Strange feeling in the chest
- Mild throat infection
But here’s the problem: the controllers only treat the asthma. They don’t cure it. Anyone with asthma who uses these controllers also builds up a dependency for them, since if we stop taking them, then our airways can potentially close up and prevent us from breathing. We can ultimately be one of the three thousand or more Americans every year who die because of an asthma attack.
Not surprisingly, Western medicine practitioners will tell you that there really isn’t a cure, that treatment and avoiding triggers are what will keep your asthma at bay. But maybe we need to start looking elsewhere. Maybe the solution lies not in Big Pharma’s “solutions” to our asthma, but maybe the solution lies in a less conventional form of medicine.
In April, I had a rare asthma attack. The cause was one of my three main triggers: too much exercise. Kind of difficult for me to predict when that will happen given that I live on a farm. Some days can pretty “normal” and others might find me exerting more than usual. Unlike people who live with chronic asthma 24/7, I only think of it when I have an attack. But when I did, I decided it was time for me to write about it for Off the Grid News. Thinking I was “up” on the latest treatments, I put the article to bed and thought little about it.
That was until a friend of mine read the article and asked if I had known there was a cure for asthma. I said there are no cures for asthma. I was pretty emphatic, by the way that all we can do is treat the symptoms and minimize the severity of it and hope that’s enough to keep it under control so as not to kill us.
Elizabeth asked me if I had known that her son was severely asthmatic as a child and that he almost died before he was ten? All of this was news to me, given that her son is the star point guard on his high school basketball team and that college recruiters continue to hound her day and night for him to sign with their school. Although it is possible to perform at an extreme athletic level with asthma, it isn’t without its challenges. There are some famous athletes who have been able to—Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Jerome Bettis come to mind—but the list is small, for obvious reasons.
Elizabeth asked if I recalled that she and her son took an extended vacation to Brazil when he was thirteen (which is now four years ago). I had, and assumed it was what she called it: a vacation. In fact, it was so he could try something that wasn’t available in the U.S. for her son’s asthma. Tired of living with twice-a-day Advair for maintenance and his steroid inhaler for acute attacks, he begged his mom for some relief. An exhaustive search on the Internet yielded nothing but the same old, same old. Almost ready to give up, she googled “natural cures for asthma.” That day their lives changed. Mind you, these aren’t rich people. She’s a single mom, who, like you and me, is staying afloat. But the idea of a cure for her son’s asthma, which was so severe that it could kill him, had her boarding a plane for Brazil.
The Amazon’s Answer To Asthma
Not aware their record keeping would ever be called into question, the indigenous people living along the Amazon River probably can’t recall how long they have been using a multi-purpose medicinal plant called “mutamba” (Guazuma ulmifolia). Oral history says probably 1,000 years; since Westerners only discovered this in the last few years, according to Western medicine, it is only about 100 years old. The mutamba tree is native to the Amazon rainforest and grows across the tropics in both Central and South America, including parts of the Caribbean. The tree can grow to be up to sixty-five feet in height, and a mature tree can have a trunk that spans seven to fourteen inches in diameter. The leaves can grow to be up to one foot in length, and the flowers that grow range from white to shades of light yellow. The tree also produces a strong honey-scented fruit that’s covered in rough barbs.
While we in Western countries are completely unaware that this tree exists, all of the different parts of the mutamba tree have been used for centuries in a number of different countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Panama, Jamaica, and Mexico. It’s well known for it’s several medicinal properties, such as:
All of the parts of the tree can be used to cure a number of common ailments, from alopecia to diarrhea, from bruises to burns, along with a number of diseases. But when it comes to asthma, it’s the bark of the tree as well as the leaves that are the most beneficial.
The bark of the mutamba has been found to be rich in tannins, proanthocyanidins (an antioxidant chemical), and kaureonic acid, which has both antifungal and antibacterial properties. The leaves of the tree contain caffeine, which can stimulate and open airways.
A 2003 study has also shown mutamba to have antiviral properties, which may also help further explain why it’s so effective in treating asthma and other upper respiratory infections.
Traditional Preparation Of Mutamba For Asthma
The Mixe Indians who lived in the Mexican lowlands would take fresh bark from the tree and then create a decoction by boiling it in water. Anyone suffering from asthma would then drink the tea that was made, and it would soothe their asthmatic symptoms.
How To Create Your Own Mutamba Decoction
You will be able to find some mutamba products on the market in natural health stores (you can usually find it being sold as a hair growth stimulant), but the best way to ingest it is in the form of a decoction, just as traditional herbal practitioners have been doing for thousands of years.
Here’s how you can create your own decoction:
1) Try to obtain the fresh bark of a mutamba tree and place approximately a teaspoon-sized piece of it in water. (Do not use aluminum bowls to boil the water in. Try to use a ceramic, earthenware container or a glass container. If you must use metal, make sure it’s enameled.)
2) Boil the water for anywhere from eight to twelve minutes.
3) Strain the water.
Dosage: Drink the tea three times a day.
NOTE: Make sure that you prepare the decoction no more than twenty-four hours in advance. It is best to drink the decoction as soon as possible for maximum effect.
Elizabeth’s son drank this tea three times a day for six months. He no longer drinks the tea, and he is also 100 percent asthma-symptom free. He has had no wheezing, no coughing, and no attacks, and he hasn’t used his inhalers for over four years. His doctors say he is freak of nature. He isn’t a freak of nature. He just no longer relies on Big Pharma to treat his asthma. What they probably meant to say was, “He’s putting a dent in my kick-backs, because I can’t write two monthly prescriptions for him anymore.”
Mutamba is incredibly healing and can help cure several other common health problems that may afflict you or someone you know (as noted above). Clearly I am going to have to write a follow up about its myriad uses. I love it when I learn something new! If you have any experience with mutamba, please feel free to share it.
It is important to note that it is not safe for everyone. Pregnant women, or those hoping to become pregnant, should not use mutamba as it acts as a uterine stimulant and can cause pre-term labor. And as always, check with your doctor before starting any new type of treatment. Here’s to good health, naturally!
©2012 Off the Grid News