Breathe In, Breathe Out
It is a common misconception that asthma is solely a respiratory condition when in fact, asthma is characterized more as an inflammatory condition. Asthma is a condition defined by the narrowing of airways as a result of swelling or inflammation. As the airways swell, the body produces excess mucus making it difficult to breathe thus coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath ensue. When looking for an alternative approach to treating asthma, it is important to focus on choosing products that are anti-inflammatory agents. Spearmint is one such substance.
Asthma and the effects of spearmint on this condition have roots that can be traced back to several traditional cultures. In the Middle East as well as in the Chinese, Indian and Japanese traditions, blends of different types of herbs, including spearmint, were commonly used to treat asthma and allergies. The spearmint plant is native to the Mediterranean region, but it quickly spread throughout the world. Ancient Middle Eastern medicine describes a blend of honey, black cumin, chamomile, cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, sage and spearmint used to treat asthma. This combination of herbs was said to soothe the tracheal smooth muscle, which is a muscle that can be easily aggravated by allergens such as histamine and acetylcholine thus producing an asthma attack.
Spearmint: More Than Just Gum
Spearmint has many of the same properties as peppermint; however, it is far milder making it ideal for treating children. Because spearmint is a natural suppressant, not only can it be used to clear nasal congestion caused by conditions such as the common cold, it can also be used to soothe air passageways that have been inflamed due to asthma. This plant grows well in nearly all climates. Many gardeners grow it in pots due to its invasive spreading roots. Having a pot of spearmint is a great idea for any household home to someone with asthma as the leaves can be accessed right away.
Asthma and the effects of spearmint on this condition are defined by lipoxygenase inhibition. Lipoxygenase is a chemical that interferes with the action of leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are chemicals that cause inflammatory conditions like asthma to continue once they are triggered. Leukotrienes cause bronchial constriction and mucus production, which are the main components of an asthma attack. It is obvious that the key to treating asthma is to inhibit leukotrienes. There are several oral medications that do just this including, montelukast (Singulair), zafirlukast (Accolate) and zileuton (Zyflo, Zyflo CR). Each of these medications helps prevent asthma symptoms for up to 24 hours. On the alternative end, spearmint is also a leukotriene inhibitor, making it ideal to treat asthma.
So, How Can I Use This Amazing Herb?
There are several forms by which spearmint can be used to treat asthma. The first method is to make a spearmint tea, which you can drink to soothe the constricting muscles causing your asthma attack. Spearmint tea can be bought pre-made or it can be made at home. To make spearmint tea, all you need are spearmint leaves, which can be found at most local grocery stores, and water. Simply heat the water and add the spearmint leaves. Allow the leaves to steep until the desired strength is reached. Then, drain the leaves and if you want, add a sweetener such as sugar or honey. In addition to drinking spearmint in the form of tea, spearmint oil can also be used to treat asthma. Simply purchase spearmint oil at your local grocery or health store and rub it on your chest when you feel an asthma attack coming on. The scent of the oil will help relieve some of your symptoms.
Control Not Cure
Although asthma cannot be cured, it’s symptoms can be controlled through the use of both prescribed medicine and at home remedies. It is important to understand asthma and the effects of spearmint on it so that you can discover ways to best treat your condition. Always consult your doctor regarding your plan of treatment.
MayoClinic.com: Asthma-Alternative Medicine
American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology: Treatment
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