Pin Me

Natural Supplements for Asthma

written by: Heidi Wiesenfelder • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 2/23/2009

Natural remedies are becoming increasingly popular for dealing with many health conditions, and asthma is no exception. People are ready to forego the long-term costs and side effects of prescription medication such as steroids in favor of holistic supplements. Fortunately there are many options.

  • slide 1 of 4

    About Asthma

    Asthma comprises an array of symptoms including tightness in the chest, wheezing, shortness of breath, and mucus in the respiratory passages. Individuals may sufferer from any or all of these problems, and symptoms can range from quite mild to very severe. Chronic mild symptoms may be accompanied by occasional acute flareups, referred to as asthma attacks. Triggers can include environmental factors such as cold air, humidity, pollution, or air-borne allergens, as well as internal factors such as food allergens and exertion.

    The physiological process includes constriction and inflammation of the bronchial passages, and secretion of mucus in those airways as well. Thus both conventional and alternative treatments are selected to relieve one or more of those processes. Conventional treatments fall into two main categories: long-term medications for prevention and control and short-term medications for dealing with acute attacks. Prescription medications such as inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-2 agonists are typically used on a long-term basis, whereas inhaled albuterol, a short-acting beta-2 agonist is the most popular medication for quick relief.

  • slide 2 of 4

    Natural Supplements for Asthma

    Holistic remedies from a variety of traditions are in use for providing relief from asthma symptoms and for reducing or eliminating reliance on prescription medicines. In most cases, a natural health practitioner will select the proper remedy based on an individual's specific symptoms and overall health. For instance, a homeopath will select the proper homeopathic asthma remedy based on what symptoms a person experiences, what time of day they are most severe, and what the main triggers are for that person. A Chinese herbalist will also ask questions about a person's symptoms to ascertain the cause of the symptoms and select the appropriate remedy.

    Homeopathic remedies that are commonly used for asthma relief include Natrum sulphuricum, ipecacuanha, and aresenicum. Chinese herbs helpful in dealing with asthma include Er Chen Wan and Ching Fei Yi Huo. The Japanese formula Saiboku-tu has also shown the ability to relieve asthma symptoms and reduce dependence on prescription drugs. Licorice is a key component of that formula, and is used on its own in Chinese medicine for asthma relief as well. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties.

    In addition to licorice, other readily available herbs are beneficial for asthma sufferers. Cayenne acts to dilate the bronchial passages and thin mucus. Ginkgo biloba also dilates the respiratory passages and reduces bronchial inflammation. Pau d'arco is an Amazon rainforest herb that reduces inflammation in the respiratory tract. Lobelia is an expectorant and antispasmodic, and also acts as a bronchodilator. These supplements are all available in a selection of forms including teas, liquid tinctures, and powders. Even apple cider vinegar is recommended for its ability to affect the pH level in the body and reduce wheezing.

    Ayurvedic remedies are also an option for addressing asthma symptoms. As with homeopathy and Chinese herbs, an ayurvedic practitioner will choose the best remedy for an individual based on symptoms and related health conditions. Of special importance is the individual's dosha or ayurvedic type: vata, pitta or kapha. Commonly recommended ayurvedic preparations include Chayawanaprash, Agastaya Rasayana, and Thylophora Asthmatica.

  • slide 3 of 4

    Disclaimer

    Please read this disclaimer regarding the information you have just read.

  • slide 4 of 4

    Sources & Resources

    Books:

    Severe Asthma: A Multidisciplinary Approach, Donald Y. M. Leung & S. J. Szefler

    Gentle Healing for Baby and Child: A Parent's Guide to Child-Friendly Herbs and Other Natural Remedies for Common Ailments and Injuries, Andrea Candee & David Andrusia

    The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs, Ron Teeguarden

    Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-To-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, Phyllis A. Balch

    Severe Asthma: A Multidisciplinary Approach, Donald Y. M. Leung & S. J. Szefler

    Websites:

    Ayurveda for Asthma

    Chinese Medicine for Asthma

    Herbal Recipes for Asthma

    University of Maryland Medical Center: Lobelia