Healthy Beginnings

CHRONIC DEHYDRATION Part 10: It Triggers Breathing Problems

lungsAsthma, Allergies, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Bronchitis, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

Asthma and Allergies

The rate of histamine production during and after dehydration has been demonstrated in several animal studies. During dehydration some of the white cells convert the amino acid histadine into histamine that triggers allergic reactions. Once the animals are re-hydrated, these cells decrease their histamine production, thus relieving the allergy and asthma symptoms

Breathing problems like allergies, asthma, and COPD are due to dehydrated tissues that become more sensitive. Water is used in the nasal passages, bronchial tubes, and lungs and to keep them moist. But every breath outward expels moisture from these tissues, and every breath in brings drying air. Under hydrated conditions water is rapidly replaced. But if dehydrated, histamine causes the tissues to be coated with mucus to prevent further drying and to protect them from irritating foreign particles.

An asthma attack after eating or exercise is a common indicator of dehydration. During digestion water is needed to break down and liquefy the food. Since the available water is being used by vital organs, it has to be stolen from them for digestion. This sudden theft of water from the lungs causes them to spasm. Since we breathe about 2,000 times a day, the spasms reduce the number of breaths in and the depth of exhaling, thus reducing the amount of water lost by breathing.

A dehydrated body produces histamine, and it is well-known that asthmatics have excessive levels of it in their lung tissue causing constriction of the bronchial passages and increased mucus build-up. In the hospital, a suffocating asthmatic would receive intravenous salt, oxygen and the antihistamine adrenaline. Research by Dr. Jans Jordan (Journal of Circulation, February 2000) discovered that within five minutes of drinking 8 to16 ounces of tap water, the adrenaline producing nerve systems are stimulated for more than 90 minutes. This suggests that water is a superior, natural, and danger-free emergency treatment for severe asthmatic attacks.

Abundant medical literature supports salt therapy because it calms and deepens the breathing, increases movement of the respiratory epithelium, and cleans the airways. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects, accelerates oxidation of serotonin, and regulates mineral balance. It does not replace medical treatment, but can significantly reduce it. Halo (salt) therapy is completely natural, does not interact with medications, and you cannot overdose with it.

European asthmatics are seeking relief via speleotherapy in Ukrainian salt mines. This therapy was discovered in 1950 in Poland when it was noticed that salt miners rarely suffered from tuberculosis or any respiratory disease. Speleotherapy uses the salt permeated air in the mine to dissolve phlegm in the bronchial tubes and kill micro-organisms that cause infections. In 2005 the Ukrainian salt mine staff reported that therapy for 24 days was 90% effective in reducing symptoms for up to three years. Salt is beneficial to European asthmatics, but may not work for those Americans who have already ingested enough salt to drastically upset their electrolyte balance and who are probably very short on water to balance that salt.

Since salt mines are not available everywhere, man-made replicas have been developed, are called salt caves, and they use halotherapy (halo = salt). The interior of the treatment room resembles a salt cave with comfortable lounging chairs for the hours patients will spend inhaling the salt vapors. This therapy also proves beneficial for COPD patients.

For those unable to take a three week salt therapy vacation, there exists a use-at-home substitute. The Himalayan salt inhaler is a ceramic vessel filled with Himalayan salt that is breathed through the mouth and exhaled via the nose. This cleanses the sinuses, nasal cavities, throat, and lungs. It treats symptoms of allergies, shortness of breath, hay fever, cold, flu, bronchitis, sinus conditions caused by air pollution, mold, fungus, and smoke, (Himalayan salt contains potassium, yet another component of re-hydration.) A complete kit runs about $40-$65.

University of North Carolina researchers have concluded a study, the purpose of which was to understand the properties of mucus in persons with COPD, specifically chronic bronchitis. They hypothesized that those with chronic bronchitis have dehydrated mucus, and thus have a harder time coughing it out of their lungs, leading to a greater vulnerability for lung infection, inflammation and airflow obstruction. The goal was to understand how mucus dehydration contributes to the progression of COPD/chronic bronchitis so that better therapies and interventions could be developed. Unfortunately, their results have yet to be posted.

Salt inhalation therapy can be helpful for asthma, allergies, and COPD patients, especially for those whose medical doctors have forbidden them from consuming salt.

Salt as part of a re-hydration program can relieve and even prevent asthma and allergy attacks. The water necessary for re-hydration serves to neutralize excess acid so the body becomes more alkaline, and also washes away troublesome toxins.

The separate ingredients in these therapies–water, salt, and potassium–each produce results by themselves. Imagine what they can do when combined in a re-hydration program for even more dramatic results. There is nothing better than re-hydration itself.

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

POTS is another condition with roots in dehydration.

It is characterized by an inappropriately elevated heart rate and drop in blood pressure when a person is erect. While standing, gravity pulls nearly one-quarter of the blood supply away from the brain, thus causing fainting if there is not enough blood volume to replace the descending amount.

POTS is experienced by those with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. EDS is an inherited tissue disease which causes so many abnormalities it has been divided it into seven types. Type 3 symptoms include hypermobility/flexibility of the joints and hyper-elasticity of the skin plus POTS and other abnormalities such as asthma and hyper active kidneys. These kidneys produce so much urine that there is little water available to keep the person’s blood volume at a normal level, thus the fainting.

A Portland, Oregon, mother and her three daughters (all four with EDS, POTS, and asthma) are treated at a local medical clinic. Because of their excessively reduced blood volume, the clinic prescribes a super aggressive re-hydration regimen of 10,000 mg salt, 3,000 mg potassium and one to one and one-half gallons of water (16 to 24 eight-ounce glasses) per day. This lifts their blood volume level, enabling these people to lead more normal lives without fainting episodes and clearer lungs.

In the ABC of Asthma, Allergies and Lupus,” Dr. F. Batmanghelidj theorizes that chronic dehydration can cause genetic mutation in parents that can be passed on to offspring and carried forward into subsequent generations to cause inborn diseases (such as Ehlers-Danlos). No one can definitively say how much effect chronic dehydration may alter our genetic makeup, but it is something to seriously consider when wondering why certain conditions/diseases run in families. Conscientious hydration may benefit future generations as well as yourself.

If you have had success curing or relieving disease through re-hydration, please contact JeanAnn at 828-7194.


Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, Mosby Elsevier, 2006
ABC of Asthma, Allergies and Lupus, Batmanghelidj, F., M.D., Global Health Solutions, 2000