Posted June 26, 2012: by Bill Sardi
Modern medicine plods along, with blinders on in regard to nutritional medicine, feeling its way in the dark and never really investigating the origins of disease in the light of vitamin and mineral shortages.
Aspirin-induced asthma is one such example. Aspirin-induced asthma is a severe inflammatory disease, which affects patients after ingestion of aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen). And it can have deadly consequences if you experience a closure of your breathing pipes. Modern medicine says it has no clue why aspirin can provoke a sudden and severe invasion of white blood cells (eosinophils) that block the upper and lower airways. Despite treatment, that someone should die of sudden asthmatic closure of their wind pipes is appalling in this era of modern medicine.
That smokers have higher rates of asthma should be a tip off that a lack of vitamin C is involved in this disease as tobacco depletes vitamin C. Among women in Japan, 4.9% of non-smokers had asthma compared to 12.1% for smokers. Asthmatics who quit smoking have 80% lower odds of having tightness in the chest. Fruit consumption, which provides a natural source of vitamin C from the diet, reduces the risk for asthma.
It is interesting to learn that aspirin-induced asthma was first described in 1922, about the time aspirin was aggressively marketed by Bayer around the world. In fact, in a recent review, the Spanish Flu pandemic that reportedly killed 50 million humans in 1918 was fomented by the overuse of aspirin in that year. Did overdose aspirin kill millions in 1918 due to a drug-induced vitamin C deficiency?
But with blinders on, modern medicine has no commercial interest in investigating whether aspirin, an agent that depletes vitamin C, could be the underlying cause of aspirin-induced asthma. While aspirin as an acid increases the absorption of vitamin C from foods and supplements, it completely arrests entry of vitamin C into white blood cells! As early as 1973 it was recommended that anyone receiving aspirin should take supplemental vitamin C.
Let’s examine the correlations between aspirin use and asthma.
Common symptoms that characterize aspirin-intolerant asthma are nasal polyps (often the first sign of the problem) accompanied by nasal sinusitis (inflammation in the nasal cavities).
Non-asthmatic patients with nasal polyps have been found to have lower blood concentrations of antioxidants including vitamin C.
Among non-asthmatic children, a shortage of vitamin C was found to be associated with nasal sinus inflammation, which is a characteristic of aspirin-induced asthma.
Another common symptom asthmatics may experience is a potentially life-threatening closure of their bronchial airways due to a sudden allergic-like reaction called anaphylaxis (ana-fill-ax-iss).
In some instances, aspirin-induced asthma may provoke a violent spasm in the bronchus with loss of consciousness and respiratory arrest.
Anaphylaxis, whether among asthmatics or non-asthmatics, is characterized by hives, (itchy red welts on the surface of the skin, aka urticaria), rapid swelling of the skin (angioedema), and more acutely, a sudden, severe allergic reaction accompanied by a sharp drop in blood pressure and breathing difficulties that are also characteristic of aspirin-induced asthma.
The occurrence of anaphylaxis, the sudden closure of the bronchial airways, was studied in guinea pigs who share the same plight as humans in that both species do not internally produce vitamin C as most other mammals do. Anaphylaxis was experimentally induced and mortality was experienced in 40% of the animals but only 11% of the animals pre-treated with vitamin C.
In another laboratory experiment, when guinea pigs were subjected to chemically-induced anaphylactic shock, 8 of 20 animals succumbed whereas only 2 of 18 animals given intravenous vitamin C died.
The major biological mechanism behind aspirin-induced asthma is an imbalance of anti-inflammatory molecules – namely the inhibition of cycyloxygenase-2 (COX-2), which then triggers inflammation in airways and results in spasm in the bronchus (a passageway into the lungs). This impairs exit of air from the lungs and a struggle to breathe fresh air.
At first glance it appears that vitamin C is problematic, because it further inhibits COX-2, but by a different mechanism – by reduction of oxygen free radicals and increased sensitivity of COX-2 to be inhibited by aspirin, thus allowing a lower dose of aspirin to be used.
Since vitamin C appears to quell the burst of free radicals generated in acute asthma attacks while aspirin does not, aspirin alone should be considered an incomplete anti-inflammatory agent. And there is additional evidence that vitamin C addresses an imbalance of free radicals over antioxidants that is characterized in asthma.
In an epidemiological (population) study conducted by The National Institutes of Health in 2004, the only dietary antioxidants found to be significantly associated with reduced asthma risk were vitamin C and alpha-carotene.
However, in 2009 the Cochrane Database Review system indicated there is simply not sufficient evidence that vitamin C is effective for asthma sufferers. The lack of clinical trials is abominable.
One small trial of 60 asthmatic children showed that diet supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), zinc and vitamin C significantly improved measurable parameters of this disease.
Another study showed that 1500 mg of vitamin C protects against exercise-induced airway narrowing in asthmatic subjects.
An over-responsive immune system appears to be at the root of asthmatic inflammation. When a combination of three antioxidants (vitamin C, Ginkgo biloba extract and astaxanthin) were employed in asthmatic guinea pigs, this combo-antioxidant mixture beneficially reduced the number of first-responding white blood cells (eosinophils, neutrophils) and reduced inflammation with effectiveness equal to or greater than ibufprofen.
In another animal lab experiment it was found that glutathione, a natural enzymatic antioxidant produced in the body, blunts the airway obstruction typically observed in early asthmatic attacks. Vitamin C increases glutathione synthesis.
Steroids are usually used to treat acute and chronic asthma, which further deplete vitamin C.
While evidence is indirect, the correlations between aspirin as a vitamin C-depleting agent and low vitamin C levels being associated with more severe asthmatic attacks is overwhelming.
It is not expected modern medicine will take off its blinders any time soon. Asthmatics beware. Take your vitamin C. © 2012 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.