Almost 26 million Americans – and 235 million people worldwide! – have asthma. And I’m one of them. A recent study showed that asthma in the US is not well controlled. This is due to several factors, not the least of is the onerousness of treatment. It’s a lifetime battle to control, and we often have multiple pills, nose sprays, and the ubiquitous inhaler. Asthma is often treated with steroids – which can come with significant side effects.
Researchers in Korea wanted to find a therapeutic agent that would be effective, but without the side effects of steroids. They looked to seaweed. Sodium alginate, the slimy stuff on seaweed stems, is known to have anti-inflammatory actions in other disease processes and is useful in dealing with antibiotic resistance. They “evaluated the anti-asthmatic effect of alginate oligosaccharide (AO), which was prepared from seaweed and converted by Bacillus subtilis KCTC 11782BP.” The AO was used to treat asthma in a mouse model. They found that the AO was effective in controlling Th1/Th2 cytokines, which are an integral factor in asthma’s harmful effects.
And – it turns out that AO doesn’t have the side effects of other traditional asthma medications. This is an important finding not only in the treatment of asthma – it’s got important implications for getting asthmatic people to stick with their treatments for better control of the disease!