People with asthma often have lower than average levels of antioxidants, and supplementing the diet may help ease symptoms, according to new research. A report from the Asthma & Allergy Research Institute in Australia states that low antioxidant levels, particularly of vitamin C, may influence severity of asthma. Looking at the antioxidant levels of 81 asthmatics (53 mild-to-moderate and 28 severe) and 43 non-asthmatic adults, researchers found levels of vitamin C were lower for adults with severe asthma compared to those with mild or no asthma. This difference was seen in both males and females, but more so in males.
In a related study, researchers from California’s Loma Linda University found that the antioxidant Pycnogenol® (a proprietary mixture of bioflavonoids extracted from French coastal pine) made a significant difference in asthma symptoms in children and teenagers with mild to moderate asthma. In fact, Pycnogenol reduced the need for a rescue inhaler. The researchers conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study involving 60 children, aged 6-18 years. After basic measurements were taken, the children were given either Pycnogenol or a placebo over a three-month period. Compared with participants taking the placebo, the group taking Pycnogenol had significantly improved lung function and reduced factors that cause inflammation and bronchi constriction. The researchers believe that Pycnogenol’s potent antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory properties combine to soothe the irritation that cause bronchi to constrict.
Sources: Eur Respir J. 2005 Aug;26(2):257-64; J Asthma. 2004;41(8):825-32