Karla: My Asthma Journey

Updated January 21, 2021

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I have suffered from asthma since the 5th grade. Now, at 50 years of age, I reflect on everything I endured with asthma: tubes placed in my ears as a kid, missing a semester in my freshman year due pneumonia, bronchitis and ear infections, and I had been continually struck down with bronchitis about 4 times per year. Every time bronchitis came knocking, I was placed on prednisone and breathing treatments. My asthma routine was filled with Albuterol, rescue inhalers and Symbicort daily. Taking Advair affected my vocal cords. I needed to have vocal physical therapy for a year and was placed on vocal rest for a month to help. 

I looked into Dr. McDougall’s way of eating for my mom because she had some heart issues. I had become a full blown vegan after watching a few documentaries: What The Health, Cowspiracy, Eating You Alive and the one that changed me forever – Earthlings! Since becoming vegan 4 years ago, I have not had bronchitis. I believe it was partly due to the dairy because I can remember my mucus getting thicker after consuming milk in high school and college. I had no idea the McDougall program would help me too! 

When I attended the McDougall 10-day program with my mom, we went 100% no oil. I asked both Dr. McDougall and Dr. Lim if I would ever be able to stop using my asthma inhalers. Dr. McDougall said that time would tell but I might have to continue some medications because I am allergic to animals, mold and dust. Dr. Lim believed I could get off the inhalers if I was strict and did not use any oil. Dr. Lim explained that oil causes inflammation, so by getting rid of the inflammation I might respond differently to allergens. Boy, was he right! I have not used any asthma inhalers in close to three years! I also do not have any of the shaky side effects any more. My lungs are open. It’s a miracle! 

Currently, I am about 90% – 100% no oil. During a Halloween party I ended up having some food with oil in it and some candy. Although everything was vegan, I could feel my lungs get tight from the added oil in my crossfit workout a few days later. I worked through it and did not use an inhaler. This made me realize more than ever that the “no oil” part is key for me besides, of course, no animal products. I feel great every day and want to shout from the rooftops: “I don’t have to take my inhalers anymore!!! Yippee!!!”

I would not be here telling you my story today if it was not because of my old work director, Cate Vonderhaar, who guided me in the right direction. I think the ironic thing is that I was wanting to get healthy but I had been seeking a Paleo chef when Cate contacted me. That’s what I had heard was a healthy journey. She asked what my goal was and it was to get healthier. That’s when I started learning. I am very grateful she is in my life. I also want to thank Dr. McDougall, Dr. Lim and the rest of the McDougall staff for all of their help and encouragement.