The People's Perspective on Medicine

Jim’s Story: Reclaiming a Life Nearly Ruined by Sudden-Onset Asthma

Sudden-onset asthma threatened Jim Quinlan's lifestyle and his life, until he was successfully treated for a C. pneumoniae infection.
Courtesy of Jim Quinlan

Back in 1985, things were going well for Jim Quinlan and his wife. They had just bought a house and had a second baby. Jim had a new job, too. Life was looking good, until the end of the year when Jim came down with a terrible cold that just wouldn’t go away. The coughing dragged on for months, until Jim finally saw his doctor. To his shock, he was diagnosed with asthma.

Scary Asthma Attacks

The problem was not just the indignity of being diagnosed with sudden-onset asthma. The real rub was that even when Jim used his inhalers as prescribed, he just couldn’t get his breathing under control. He had numerous trips to the emergency room, including one in the back of an ambulance after he nearly died of an asthma attack on his front porch. (You can read about this at Jim’s website,

Thinking that the cold damp Michigan weather might be partly to blame for two nearly fatal asthma attacks in a matter of months, Jim and his wife moved the family to Florida. But the asthma went along for the ride. It was still terribly difficult to control.

Asthma and Infection

A family friend who was a pharmacist read about research linking hard-to-treat asthma to a respiratory infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae. Although it was a challenge to find a doctor to test for and treat the infection, Jim’s friend got in touch with the researcher, Dr. David Hahn. Eventually, it took 14 weeks of antibiotic treatment to overcome the asthma.

Jim’s response wasn’t immediate. But within a year, he realized that he was completely free of inhalers after having been told-several times-that he would have asthma for the rest of his life. Six years later, he prepared for a long walk, fulfilling a dream he had thought was unattainable.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Jim hiked on the Appalachian Trail, and he did not take inhalers with him. What a turn-around, from a life in which asthma limited his activity even playing with his sons, to a life in which he could accomplish a challenging hike of hundreds of miles! The photo of Jim was taken on the Trail.

To learn more about Jim’s story, check out his website, or read Dr. David Hahn’s book, A Cure for Asthma? What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You–and Why. A Cure for Asthma? is published by People’s Pharmacy Press.


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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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My husband had asthma and constantly used an inhaler. He couldn’t walk a city block without stopping to catch his breath. He went to a physician who diagnosed him with an allergy to fowl protein. Since he no longer eats chicken, turkey, eggs, etc all of his symptoms are gone. Other physicians treated the symptoms but one doctor addressed the cause of the symptoms – the allergy.

He has not had an “asthma attack” for well over 40 years. Yes, we read labels and ask a lot of questions about food ingredients when we find out ,but it is worth it.

Since the new single breath CT is available; hence, low radiation, my recalcitrant asthma issues were revealed upon scanning.

In addition to asthma, my scan (along with subsequent sputum cultures) revealed bronchiectasis, along with MAC ( Mycobacteria Avium Complex). Mycobacteria is a common bacteria found in municipal water supplies, soil, etc. Some people fall ill with the disease, but it is unknown exactly why it only attacks certain people.

If you are having continuing problems with may behoove you to find a good pulmonologist and request a low dose CT.

I have had allergic asthma for decades. What has worked best for me is regular acupuncture.
I still carry an inhaler in my purse but have not used it for many years. I was able to stop all related medications.

Thanks so much for this article. Have had pneumonia for many years and have gone to the hospital different times. Have hated to use the different inhalers because of the side effects.
Am sending for Dr. Hahn’s book, and hope to get help with my Asthma, which I hate to claim. Am hoping our doctor will agree to this. He did regarding Armour thyroid and testing the T3 which should always be part of the thyroid test.
Thanks so much for this. Being we saw the People’s Pharmacy in the Sunday paper, I almost didn’t check out your email. Thanks again.

I was diagnosed with asthma several years ago….inhaler, etc…then I started having back problems and decided to get rid of my water bed and as soon as I got a regular bed, my symptoms cleared up. I honestly believe I was sleeping on some mold where the refilling from time to time had dribbled down beside the mattress and had not been completely dried out. To this day, I am asthma free…but miss the water bed!

As a life-long asthmatic, I had to learn what would bring on attack and do my best to avoid it. For me it was mostly chemicals; Glue from rug installations, chlorine bleach, Glade room deodorizers, Oil paint, diesel smoke, cigarette smoke in a closed room, chicken feather pillows, horsehair, etc.
Bad cases of bronchitis and pneumonia. (No more pneumonia since the shot 22 years ago.) Once the asthma started, it wouldn’t stop even when the cause was no longer there. Inhalers only worked for me for about 10 minutes. So they were out.
I found if I carried Halls plain menthol cough drops and used them as soon as the asthma and tight chest started, I could often stop it from going into a full blown chronic episode. When one attack had lasted over 3 weeks, brought on by the smell of paint renovations at work, with no amount of relief from respiratory therapy, inhalers or cough drops, two hypnosis sessions reversed it. Some how we can get control over some of our autonomic responses.
It was a long time ago. Now I try for self- hypnosis since the Dr. who taught it retired long gone. It takes lots of practice, but can be done.

Remember that it took physicians years to start washing their hands after doing an autopsy and before doing surgery. This is a very conservative group as a whole.
Some physicians are investigating more than drugs and surgery. I just hope they can keep their licenses while “prescribing” items other than FDA aproved drugs.
Please remember that ALL antobiotics will kill off much of our gut bacteria, both good and bad.
Find a way that works for you to replace it and take it away from the antibiotics. And you are unlikely to hear this from your MD.
It might also pay to inrease B12 particularly when doing the regimen. We no longer eat the foods highest in B12, so many of us are low. I did read that blood tests may not be that accurate and it is hard to overdose so I choose to supplement B12 regularly.

I don’t have asthma but just wanted to say how valuable The People’s Pharmacy is in communicating the info that some or many people need, when their doctors don’t or can’t.

After reading about this on the People’s Pharmacy, I am now taking the treatment. I had a talk with my pulmonologist who has been aware of this treatment and was agreeable to trying it out with me.
I am now on day 4 of treatment and already I feel a difference–no inhalers, no constriction in my chest or shortness of breath, no coughing continually during the night. It is like a miracle. I still take antihistamines for allergies, but that is a minor inconvenience compared to what I was suffering. Thank you People’s Pharmacy for making me aware of an alternative treatment to the ineffectual steroid inhalers I was taking.

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