Herbs for Asthma Relief


Herbs for Asthma Relief - Licorice (image in the public domain)

When someone suffers from an asthma attack, bronchial tubes narrow and an excess of thick mucus is secreted, making it hard for one to breathe. It can be attributed to allergies, emotional problems, or exercise.

Acute asthma attacks can be an emergency. In this case, seek immediate medical attention.

Herbs for Asthma Relief


A primary component of licorice root is glycyrrhetinic acid, a compound that has been shown to have cortisol-like activity. It is similar to corticosteroids like prednisone.[1] Licorice provides asthma relief by decreasing inflammation and by eliminating secretions from the respiratory tract.


Lobelia (also called Indian tobacco) is an efficient expectorant and anti-spasmotic. Out of many herbs for asthma, it is said to be the most powerful herb for relaxing airways.

Tylophora Asthmatica

The leaves of tylophora have been used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine for treating respiratory tract disorders, including asthma. Alkoloids of tylophora have been reported to possess anti-spasmodic and antihistamine activity. In one study[2], involving 103 people, those who received a dry alcoholic extract of tylophora (40mg) daily for six days had greater asthma relief than those who received a placebo. 56% of the individuals who took tylophora had moderate-to-complete improvement compared to 31.6% of those who took the placebo.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba contains molecules, known as ginkgolides, that antagonize PAF (platelet activating factor), a key chemical mediator in asthma, allergies, and inflammation. These molecules compete with PAF for binding sites, thus producing improvements in respiratory function.[3-4]


The leaf of this small evergreen shrub has been used for hundreds of years to treat asthma by working as a mild expectorant and bronchodilator.

Other herbs for asthma relief include turmeric, grindelia, clover, skullcap, comfrey, coleus, St. John’s wort, saw palmetto, mullein, pinellia, garlic, and cayenne pepper.

Another way to get asthma relief is by inhaling herbs. Add essential oils (eucalyptus, peppermint, or both) to the water of a humidifier, sit nearby, and inhale the steam. Both of these herbs for asthma help dilate the airways.


  • [1] Acta Med Okayama 37 (1983): 385-91
  • [2] Ann Allergy 30 (1972): 407-12
  • [3] Br J Clin Pharmacol 29 (1990): 85-91
  • [4] Prostaglandins 34 (1987): 723-31


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