Do you want to treat your asthma naturally? Some of these natural remedies are proven to work in helping this condition to some extent.
Asthma and Inflammation
Inflammation is vital to the normal functioning of the respiratory system. Since our lungs are exposed to hundreds of environmental toxins, pollutants, allergens and germs each day, inflammation is our first line of defense against all these.
When we inhale an allergen, the immune system creates the antibody IgE against it. More and more IgE are formed each time we inhale that allergen. IgE are attached to the surface of mast cells, whenever IgE antibodies attach to an allergen, they cause the mast cells to release inflammatory mediators including leukotrienes and histamines.
These mediators cause the airways smooth muscles to contract (bronco spasm), vessels to dilate (vasodilatation), increased mucus production by respiratory mucosal glands and influx of WBC’s and more mediators. The asthmatics have an exaggerated response to allergens, increased number of IgE and the subsequent cascade.
Inflammation is now the main target in treating asthma in addition to the conservative asthma management.
Which Medications are Commonly Used?
Common allopathic medicines used for the treatment for asthma are Salbutamol, Theophyline, Terbutaline, Cromolyn Sodium.
Steroids are also used to reduce inflammation, in oral form and as inhalers. These include Hydrocortisone, Prednisolone, Fluticasone, Beclomethasone, Triamcinolone etc.
Newer drugs aimed at reducing inflammation are leucotriene inhibitors like Montelukast sodium and have very promising results.
Natural Asthma Home Remedies
Various herbs have a proven role in asthma home therapy. Most helpful herbs used for calming the airways and restoring breathing are:
The sweet taste of licorice was originally derived from the licorice root. The scientific name is Glycyrrhiza glabra and is still used in traditional Chinese medicine.
It works as an anti-inflammatory and also reduces allergy symptoms. It has also been show to function as an expectorant and help with respiratory infections and asthma.
One of the consequences of asthma is that thick secretions plug the airways. By breaking this up and expelling it, the effects of Glycyrrhiza can improve asthma symptoms.
Do not use this on a daily basis for more than 5 days as blood pressure and fluctuations in electrolyte and acid-base balance can occur.
Antiasthma herbal medicine intervention (ASHMI) formula - This is a combination of three herbs: Ku-Shen (Sophorae flavescentis), Ling-Zhi (Ganoderma lucidum), and Gan-Cao (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), . The last ingredient is licorice root. Research data shows that this regimen is safe and effective for improving asthma symptoms when combined with standard drug therapy.
Ginko Biloba has proven itself effective for fighting allergies. Common triggers for asthma exacerbations are both common colds and allergies. It makes sense that Ginko would be beneficial for asthmatic sufferers.
It has been in use for hundreds if not longer in traditional Chinese medicine due to it’s anti-inflammatory effects and is particularly of benefit in asthmatics as it relieves the bronchoconstriction within the bronchial tubes.
Turmeric is a common spice and can be found in grocery stores and a variety of herbal shops. The original studies on this herb showed an improvement in mucus clearing in mice affected with cystic fibrosis (a progressive lung disease).
There are case reports of patients requiring less corticosteroid (prednisone) due to the beneficial effects of tumeric.
Chinese skullcap is a common traditional Chinese medicine that works by stabilizing mast cells and decreasing the histamine release common with asthma and allergies. By inhibiting this process, Chinese Skullcap has been shown to improve symptoms in asthma sufferers.
The active ingredients of Chinese Skullcap include baicalin, wobogin and baicalein. They are felt of low risk for toxicity.
Grindelia acts as a smooth muscle relaxer. The bronchial tubes are lines with smooth muscle and the contraction of those muscles results in narrowing of airways and produces the wheezing sounds noted in asthmatic patients
It’s common names include gum plant, gum weed and tar weed. The plant is harvested before the buds open, dried in the sun and then can be utilized for asthma and bronchitis.
Bromelain is a pineapple derived enzyme. The reported benefits of using this naturally derived product include a decrease in inflammation, pain and swelling. Studies have also shown that Bromelain has an effect on modulating the immune response.
There are reports that by combining bromelain with rutin and trypsin, a furter decrease in symptoms occurs due to reduction in inflammation.
Some studies have shown that bromelain may help people recover faster from sinus infections which are a common trigger for asthma flare-ups.
Bromelain is felt to be best absorbed on an empty stomach.
Adhatoda is derived from a small evergreen shrub most commonly found in parts of India. Adhatoda vasica possess expectorant properties. Other active substances form this plant therapy also have bronchodilating properties that improve lung function during asthma attacks.
One final benefit comes from another active substance called vasicinol. It has been shown to decrease histamine release and therefore Adhatoda can plan an important role in treating asthma.
Dried Ivy has shown some promise in treating asthma. The studies from 2003 showed that the effects of using dried ivy preparations resulted in improvement of respiratory function in asthmatic children. The scientific name for this plant is Hedera helix. The beneficial effects were attributed to a reduction in resistance to airflow in the bronchial passages.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) has been used for hundreds of years to treat a variety of medical conditions. This short bush with daisy like flowers now grows nearly worldwide. The dried leaves are used to create tablets, capsules and liquid extracts.
The exact mechanism has yet to be worked out, but evidence suggests that by limiting inflammatory processes, feverfew may be beneficial in asthma, migraines and certain types of arthritis.
Boswellia is essentially Ayurveda frankincense and this herb is used for a variety of conditions due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties. By acting on leukotrienes, boswellia is felt to reduce the overall inflammation associated with a variety of conditions including asthma.
German research have shown that Boswellia works as a natural anti-inflammatory that is different from traditional NSAIDs. It is felt to be relatively safe and has a low incidence of side effects.
All these natural remedies are to be used as an adjunct to the existing medication and not as a substitution.
Other measures include:
- Lifestyle changes.
- Quit smoking to prevent further damage to the lungs.
- Avoid allergens like dust, pollen, smoke, chemicals.
- Weight reduction, since asthma is linked to obesity.
- Fruits and vegetables are to be eaten in abundance, which contain anti-oxidants. Avoid saturated fats and trans-fatty acids, use extra virgin olive oil.
- Fluid and water intake should be increased to liquefy the airways secretions so they are easy to expectorate.
- Increased intake of food like fish containing Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Add ginger and turmeric to food since they have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Regular moderate exercise also helps asthmatics stay healthy.
Supplements containing Choline (B vitamin), Magnesium, Selenium, Vitamin C, Lycopene, Beta-carotene Pottasium, Coenzyme Q10, and vitamin B6 may prove to be helpful. Other approaches like alternative medicines include Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Ayurvedic.
Asthma is a preventable and treatable disease to some extent. The focus of the therapy should be to keep inflammation at bay and to treat attacks promptly.