An old Mexican folk remedy for a child’s asthma is to adopt a Chihuahua. Most experts have long categorized this idea as an old wives’ tale that has no basis in science.
Now, a new study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that dogs might indeed offer some protection against allergic airway disease. The research was conducted in mice rather than human children, though.
Animals exposed to dust from houses in which dogs lived had changes in their intestinal flora, their immune systems and their response to airway allergens. The researchers identified Lactobacillus johnsonii as a pivotal species in the gut ecosystem that helps reduce an asthma-like response to allergic or infectious challenges. So perhaps the old Mexican wives were not completely off base after all.
This resarch offers a possible mechanism for the so-called hygiene hypothesis, an observation that kids who live on farms are less likely to develop allergies, eczema and asthma than children in very clean urban environments.
For a completely different perspective on asthma, we recommend A Cure for Asthma? What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You–and Why by Dr. David Hahn (published by People’s Pharmacy Press).