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Priming Your Immune System: A Game-Changer for Asthma Control

  • Asthma and Immunity

  • What is Priming in Immunology?

  • The Science Behind Immune Priming and Asthma

  • Benefits of Immune Priming for Asthma Management

  • Lifestyle Changes to Support Immune Priming

  • Immune Priming for Effective Asthma Control

Asthma and Immunity

Asthma Control

Asthma may take your breath away, but it will never take your spirit away from fighting it. The weight of global air pollution has made asthma a household name today. From children to adults, no one is spared from the disease. As research on asthma progresses, a recent concern that arose was the link between asthma and a weakened immune system. Certain evidence-based studies have found asthma and the immune system to be intricately linked, suggesting that priming the immune system to achieve a strong and healthy body can revolutionize asthma control. If you have been diagnosed with asthma recently and are looking for all-natural ways to combat it, read on to find out more.

What is Priming in Immunology?

Priming in immunology refers to the process of activating and preparing the immune system to respond effectively to a specific irritant (also called a pathogen or antigen) during the first exposure. It involves exposing the body’s immune cells (the monocytes, T-cells, and B-cells) to the antigen, triggering a war zone (a cascade of reactions in the body), including the production of specific warrior cells (the antibodies) in preparation for future attacks (1).

Priming improves the immune system's capacity to identify and combat similar pathogens in the future.

The Science Behind Immune Priming and Asthma

Immune priming and asthma

The immune response in asthma is essentially ‘inflammation.’ Food color, preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, molds, gut bacteria, leaky gut conditions, and environmental toxins and antigens are some of the common triggers. These triggers in asthmatics cause inflammation in the bronchi and bronchioles, the airways of the lungs. This causes them to constrict, contract, and release too much mucus, which causes asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and breathing difficulties (2).

The asthma immune response was once thought to be acquired—In the immunology of asthma, repeated exposure to certain pathogens initiates an immune response in the body, thereby developing immunity. However, growing evidence shows that asthma has now become a part of our inborn (innate) immunity. This results in some of us being more sensitive to external agents that may not be irritants for others, resulting in a non-allergic type of asthma (3),(4). Thus, building a strong immune system by training it through ‘priming" could help us fight asthma.

Immune priming in the management of asthma emphasizes two factors:

  • Maximizing immune responses for better control

  • Fewer exacerbations.

It aims to reduce the chances and severity of asthma by increasing the immune system's tolerance to particular allergens (5). Immune priming in the context of the management of asthma comes with certain benefits that will help you in the long run.

Benefits of Immune Priming for Asthma Management

Immune priming for Asthma Management

Immune priming plays a vital role in controlling the asthma immune response (6). Here are some benefits of immune priming in the management of debilitation due to asthma:

  • Stronger Immunity

Immune priming makes the immune system more tolerant to certain stimuli or irritants. This lessens the possibility of heightened immunological reactions following asthma attacks.

  • Decreased Frequency of Asthma Attacks

The likelihood of having an asthma flare-up or a sudden worsening of symptoms can be decreased with a stronger immune system. Emergency room visits decrease as a result of this.

  • Personalized Approach to Asthma Management

Immune priming methods can be customized for each patient, taking into consideration their unique sensitivities and irritants. This individualized strategy enables focused therapies to enhance your asthma immune response.

  • Better Symptom Control of Asthma

By priming the immune system, the inflammatory response in the airways can be better regulated. This enables better control of asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

  • Potential to Reduce Dependency on Medication

When the immune system is adept at managing the asthma immune response, the need to depend on medicines such as inhalers, nebulizers, and corticosteroids gradually reduces.

Lifestyle Changes to Support Immune Priming

Whether you are a chronic asthmatic or have been diagnosed with asthma recently, understanding the immunology of asthma can help you with sustained asthma management. When considering immune priming for asthma control, there are several approaches you can incorporate into your daily routine.

Here are some all-natural ways to start immune priming, but it is recommended to be done under the guidance of your physician:

  • Reduce the Symptoms

An asthmatic needs effective palliation. Yes, drugs can be essential and acceptable in this situation, particularly early in the course of treatment. Additionally, we have a vast array of all-natural remedies that could eliminate the need for medications—quercetin, nettles, butterbur, vitamin C, boswellia, and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate can immediately and temporarily raise the pH (alkalinity) to inhibit the initiation of inflammation (7).

  • Remove the Antigen Load

Don't be fooled into thinking that a seasonal allergy sufferer only has to deal with “pollen” as an irritant. They may be reacting to food and other environmental antigens. Cast a wide net in your investigations into allergies and sensitivities.

This includes investigating and treating exposures to irritants and toxins in your diet, lifestyle, and surroundings. A clean home with less dust exposure, wearing nose and eye protection during travel, exercising regularly, and having an organic diet, free of food colors, preservatives, and additives are important in the initial phases of immune priming.

  • Repair the Protective Barriers

Sensitization to an irritant requires hyperpermeable barriers, like lung tissue that allows the dust to go into the blood or a leaky gut that spills toxins into the blood.

The most common sites of sensitization are leaky gut, and damaged or unhealthy skin, lungs, and nose tissues. Immune priming will eventually result in healed barriers. Protection from repeated exposure to the irritant, food supplements like vitamin D and A, omega 3 fatty acids, exercise and stress management are some of the best ways to prime the immune system (8).

  • Restore the Microbiome

We cannot talk enough about the ill effects of the bad bacteria (microbiome) in the gut.

Dysbiosis (the increased levels of the harmful microbiome in the gut) is part of the pathology of asthma. Simple solutions for this include changing one's diet or performing a thorough functional stool test and correcting any imbalances that are found. Probiotics/fermented foods/prebiotic foods, reduced junk food/fried items, and drinking an adequate amount of water are all important in keeping the gut healthy (9).

  • Correct the Diet

Correcting nutrient deficiencies with the goal of reducing inflammation and increasing tolerance is key to asthma control. Vitamins like D, A, and omega-3 fatty acids are indispensable for asthma. Studies suggest that lycopene and beta-carotene are two of the antioxidants that may prove useful for preventing exercise-induced asthma symptoms when taken daily. Vitamin B6 may be required if you are taking theophylline for asthma, as this medication can cause a decrease in blood levels of this nutrient (9).

Immune Priming for Effective Asthma Control

Is asthma considered a weakened immune system? With no doubt, yes. The intricate relationship between asthma and immunity is hard to ignore. Immune priming may offer a promising approach to effective asthma control. By modulating the immune system and promoting tolerance to specific allergens and triggers, immune priming can reduce inflammation, improve symptom control, and decrease the frequency of asthma exacerbations.

Work with a Functional Medicine Practitioner to help you in the all natural approach of immune priming.


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2. Doeing DC, Solway J. Airway smooth muscle in the pathophysiology and treatment of asthma. Journal of applied physiology. 2013 Apr 1;114(7):834-43.

3. Finn PW, Bigby TD. Innate immunity and asthma. Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2009 May 1;6(3):260-5. doi: 10.1513/pats.200807-064RM.

4. Krusche J, Basse S, Schaub B. Role of early life immune regulation in asthma development. Semin Immunopathol. 2020 Feb;42(1):29-42.

5. Krusche J, Basse S, Schaub B. Role of early life immune regulation in asthma development. InSeminars in Immunopathology 2020 Feb (Vol. 42, pp. 29-42). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

6. Adkinson Jr NF, Eggleston PA, Eney D, Goldstein EO, Schuberth KC, Bacon JR, Hamilton RG, Weiss ME, Arshad H, Meinert CL, Tonascia J. A controlled trial of immunotherapy for asthma in allergic children. New England Journal of Medicine. 1997 Jan 30;336(5):324-32.

7. Amaral-Machado L, Oliveira WN, Moreira-Oliveira SS, Pereira DT, Alencar ÉN, Tsapis N, Egito EST. Use of Natural Products in Asthma Treatment. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020 Feb 13;2020:1021258.

8. Bousquet J, Hejjaoui A, Michel FB. Specific immunotherapy in asthma. Journal of allergy and clinical immunology. 1990 Sep 1;86(3):292-305.

9. Farshchi MK, Azad FJ, Salari R, Mirsadraee M, Anushiravani M. A viewpoint on the leaky gut syndrome to treat allergic asthma: a novel opinion. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine. 2017 Jul;22(3):378-80.


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