Asthma and Dairy

In this blog post, Maria Rickert Hong explains the link between asthma and dairy, and how removing dairy helped her sons heal from asthma and acid reflux.

My older son got sick a lot, especially after he started preschool when he was three. He would go to preschool for a week then be out the whole next week because he was sick; the preschool didn’t want kids coming in who were sneezing and coughing.

Constant Sickness Turned to Asthma

When he was four years old, he had a severe asthmatic episode after we went to Los Angeles to visit my husband’s family. We woke up the first morning after we landed in LA to discover that the whole valley where his parents lived was engulfed in smoke from forest fires in the San Gabriel Mountains. They stayed on fire the entire week we were there, and, although we didn’t go out in the smoke too much, we couldn’t help but breathe in some of it in.

When we came back home, he had a severe asthmatic attack, which he had never had before. It was so bad that he almost went to the hospital and our new pediatrician called on a Saturday morning to see if he was OK. I didn’t like having him on the nebulizer, Xoponex, Albuterol and prednisolone because I knew that steroids suppress the immune system.

Asthma and Dairy

I had begun going to a naturopath for myself and was seeing good results for my own health problems, so I brought my son in to see if the naturopath could help with his asthma. My husband has asthma, and I didn’t want this for my son.

The first thing the naturopath said was to cut out the dairy, which, it turns out, is one of the leading contributors to asthma. This was shocking to me because dairy was all I fed my kids in my quest to improve their weight gain! How was I supposed to do this? But do you know what?  Within three days of taking both of them off of dairy, I was able to stop giving them Prevacid for their severe acid reflux.

Why You NEED Stomach Acid

It also turns out that Prevacid and other proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) are not doing anyone a favor by turning down the stomach acid. You NEED stomach acid for a couple of reasons:

  • The gastrointestinal tract is the first line of defense against viruses, bacteria and parasites.  The less stomach acid you have, the less able you’re able to fight off those bugs and the more you get sick.
  • Stomach acid aids in the absorption of critical nutrients, such as iron and B12.  Without enough stomach acid, you can become anemic.  In fact, in the book Could It Be B12?  An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses, authors Sally Pacholok and Jeffrey Stuart discuss how people who have had gastric bypass surgery (stomach stapling or bands) WILL develop a dangerous B12 deficiency because they no longer have enough stomach acid to help absorb it.  Long-term B12 deficiency can lead to severe neurological damage and its symptoms can mimic autism and other illnesses.

I was completely thrilled to have both of my sons off of Prevacid, but, once again, I was furious at these doctors!  Why couldn’t they have simply suggested removing dairy from their diets?

Doctors Learn Very Little, If Any, Nutrition in Medical School

Why? Because doctors are taught absolutely nothing (or very little) about nutrition in medical school. What made me even more furious was the fact that my younger son had a completely unnecessary endoscopy. And what made me even more furious than that was when I read Could It Be B12?. It turns out that the nitrous oxide that the doctor gave my younger son to put him under depletes B12 reserves and can also lead to a dangerous B12 deficiency and neurological damage.

After learning these things and after being dismissed and condescended to for so long by so many doctors, I really had had enough of allopathic doctors. Conventional, Western-style medicine is allopathic, and these types of doctors look at suppressing symptoms with either pharmaceuticals or surgery instead of trying to find out what is causing the symptom to begin with (such as the dairy, in our case).

Pediatric Allergist Didn’t Test for Food Sensitivities or Intolerances

I was frustrated and furious at another of my son’s previous doctors. I had taken him to see a pediatric allergist at Mount Sinai in New York City when he was a year old. She did the skin-prick allergen test on him, and he had no allergy to any of the common allergens she tested for, like dairy, soy, corn and gluten.

What she didn’t tell me is that there are other types of allergies other than the kind that immediately make you break out in a rash or need an epi-pen because you’re going into anaphylactic shock.

Allergenic Foods Cause Inflammation

There are other types of allergies called sensitivities and intolerances that don’t cause immediately visible reactions but instead work on a subtler level to cause inflammation. Allergenic foods cause inflammation, and when the body has inflammation, it starts attacking itself and anything it perceives as attacking it, like pollen or cat dander. This is known as an autoimmune attack and can lead to any number of illnesses, but for children, they usually show up as eczema, allergies, asthma, ADHD and/or autism.

About Maria Rickert Hong CHHC

Maria Rickert Hong is a Co-Founder of, and the Education and Media Director for, Epidemic Answers, the 501(c)3 sponsoring non-profit of The Documenting Hope Project.

She is a former sell-side Wall Street equity research analyst who covered the oil services sector at Salomon Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers under Institutional Investor #1 ranked analysts. Later, she covered the gaming, lodging & leisure sector at Jefferies & Co. and Calyon Securities. She quit working on Wall Street when her first son was born.

Prior to working on Wall Street, she was a marketing specialist for Halliburton in New Orleans, where she also received her MBA in Finance & Strategy from Tulane University.

She is the author of the bestselling book Almost Autism: Recovering Children from Sensory Processing Disorder and the co-author of Brain Under Attack: A Resource for Parents and Caregivers of Children with PANS, PANDAS, and Autoimmune Encephalitis. Maria is also a Certified Holistic Health Counselor. Her work can be found on,,, and

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Pacholok, Sally M. and Stuart, Jeffrey J. Could It Be B12?: An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses. Quill Driver Books, 2011.