Home > Health > Remedies > Herbal

ASTHMA

Asthma is an ancient Greek word meaning "panting or short drawn breath". Asthma is a lung disease that results in blockage of the airways. During an asthma attack, the muscles around the bronchi (which are the small passageways of the lungs), tighten and narrow, making it difficult for air to leave the lungs.
People without asthma breathe normally despite a haze of pollens, moulds, animal dander and cigarette smoke.
For a person with asthma, inhaling certain irritants triggers a cascade of events as follows - The smooth muscle encircling the airways constricts, reducing their diameters. The bronchial tubes swell and become plugged with mucous, further narrowing the air passages.
There are other triggers that can cause Asthma attacks: Anxiety, fear, laughing, stress, low blood sugar, adrenal disorders, temperature changes, extremes of dryness or humidity, or respiratory infections.
Asthma attacks can be scary, and most people that have asthma have to carry around an inhaler to fight off these asthma attacks.

Unfortunately, asthma has become more common in recent years, especially among children, which many studies now point the finger to a diet of junk food and of increased pollution.
About 80% of sufferers have an allergic disorder. Experts warn that the ongoing increasing amount of pollutants will cause the number of asthmatics to increase. Many process workers must continually live and work around such chemicals as sulphites, urethane, polyurethane, epoxy resins, dry cleaning chemicals, and many other chemicals common to industry but sensitive to Asthma sufferers.
As mentioned earlier, Asthmatics are quite often very sensitive to foods containing sulphite additives: potassium metabisulphite, sulphur dioxide, potassium bisulphite, sodium bisulphite, etc. Restaurants use them, to prevent discoloration in salads and other foods. Sulphites are also added to many other foods by the food industry.
Nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide are also known to precipitate asthma attacks.
Fumes and strong odours, such as turpentine, paints, gasoline, perfumes, etc., disturb many asthmatics.

Doctors prescribe asthma medications according to the severity of the disease and how often the attacks occur. If you have asthma, you should work in close partnership with your doctor when trying herbal remedies.
Note: Never stop taking any asthma medication or change your dosage without your doctor's approval.
If you do take any asthma medication, check with your doctor for any interaction with the herbal medicines you are planning to take.

Non Herbal ways to ease Asthma symptoms

Cold Water

Pour cold water on the back of the neck while the person is bending over. Around 4 litres of cold water should be poured on the back of the neck from a container situated about 24 inches (60 cm) above the neck. Pour it for about 30-90 seconds. Repeat this three times a day during the critical phase.

Cold moist air

Blowing cold moist air using a vaporizer will help during an attack. Menthol or eucalyptus oil may be added to the water.

Breathing and Coughing exercise

At soon as you can detect the early signs of an asthmatic attack, sit up straight in a chair for the first ten minutes. Inhale through your nose and exhale through pursed lips. This helps press open the bronchial tubes.
After the above, lie on your stomach with your head and chest over the edge of the bed. Cough gently for two to three minutes (This should help to bring up the sputum). If the person cannot tolerate this position during an attack, he can, instead, lie face down on the bed with two to three pillows under their hips and a towel under their face.

Acupuncture

Researchers have found that acupuncture significantly improves asthma and other long-term lung conditions. It often leads to reduced need of medication while having minimal side effect.

Yoga

Some studies did find that yoga training improves overall well-being, promotes relaxation, increases exercise tolerance and reduces the need for asthma medications.

Diet changes

Studies have shown that adults on a vegan diet (diet that eliminates all animal products, including dairy and eggs) significantly improves asthma symptoms. Scientists do believe the vegan diet may work due to the increase of antioxidants and other helpful botanical chemicals while reducing pro-inflammatory chemicals that are abundant in animal foods.
If you're not interested in becoming a fanatic vegetarian, your asthma may improve when you decrease the amount of meat, eggs and dairy products in your diet and increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, and grains.

HERBAL REMEDIES

Ginkgo

This herb has long been used by the Chinese to treat asthma. The leaves contain ginkgolides, which inhibit platelet-activating factor, a chemical involved in asthma and allergies. Small studies on humans show that taking ginkgolides orally reduces narrowing of the airways in response to inhaled allergens and it partially protects against exercise-induced asthma.

Typical dosage: 40 milligrams of standardized extract three times per day for six to eight weeks.

Caution: in rare cases skin allergies or upset stomach may occur. People using blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin must than consult their doctor before using ginkgo.

Indian Gooseberry

Take five grams of Indian Gooseberry mixed with one tablespoon of honey.
This should form an effective medicinal tonic for the treatment of this disease when taken every morning.

Garlic and Onion

Both herbs are a part of the allium family and have been used to treat bronchitis and asthma for years.
Laboratory tests show that onion extracts can block the production of certain chemicals involved in inflammation and thereby inhibiting allergen-induced asthmatic responses.
The ingredients responsible for this action include mustard oils and quercetin. You can find quercetin, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substance sold as a dietary supplement. Remember to follow the packet directions for dosage. You can also include lots of onions and garlic in your daily diet. Garlic and Onion also possess anti-inflammatory, immune-stimulating and antimicrobial properties.

Typical dosage: up to three capsules per day of 500 to 600 milligrams.
Look for products that contain at least 5,000 micrograms of allicin in a daily dose or simply eat one or more raw garlic cloves per day.

Bitter Gourd Roots

The roots of the bitter gourd plant have been used in folk medicine for asthma since ancient times and acts as an excellent medicine for this disease.
Take a teaspoon of the root paste mix it with an equal amount of honey or juice of the holy basil leaves. Take it once every night for a month.

Liquorice

This herb acts as an expectorant, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, immune stimulator and antiviral - all have potential benefit for people with asthma.

Typical dosage: up to six capsules per day of 400 to 500 milligrams or 20 to 30 drops of tincture up to three times per day.

Caution: Do not take liquorice for more than six weeks unless under the supervision of a health practitioner.
People who take corticosteroids should not take liquorice without consulting their doctor.
Do not take liquorice at all if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, disease of the thyroid, kidney, liver or heart; if you're using diuretics; or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Drumstick Leaves

A soup made of these drumstick leaves and taken daily, has been found beneficial in the treatment of asthma.
Prepare the soup by adding a handful of leaves to 180 millitres of water and boil it for five minutes. You may add a little salt, pepper, and lime juice after it is cooled.

Ephedra

This herb is used for the last 5,000 years to treat asthma. It contains ephedrine, which is similar in structure to your body's own adrenaline. It decreases congestion and opens the airways.
Important Note: Ephedra stimulates the systems and may cause restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, headache, elevated blood pressure and heart rate. This is why Ephedra must be used under the supervision of a trained herbal practitioner.

Typical dosage: 15 to 30 drops of tincture in water up to four times per day; or follow manufacturer's or practitioner's directions.

Caution: Don't use if you have high blood pressure, cardiovascular and nervous heart disease, glaucoma, anorexia, hyperthyroidism or diabetes, or if you take theophylline or MAO (Monoamine oxidase ) inhibiting antidepressants.
If you're taking other asthma drugs, check with your doctor before taking ephedra. Do not combine with caffeine use; do not use while pregnant.

Bishop's Weed

The herb bishop's weed has been found valuable in treating asthma symptoms.
Half a teaspoon of bishop's weed should be mixed in a glass of buttermilk and taken twice daily. It is an effective remedy for relieving draining off dried-up phlegm.

Reishi

This medicinal mushroom boasts several healthful effects, including an ability to reduce allergies. Reishi inhibits some of the chemicals mediators of inflammation including histamine. Reishi can also assists asthmatics since it acts as an immune tonic.
Eat or take Reishi every day to keep asthma at bay.

Typical dosage: up to five capsules per day of 420 milligrams or up to three capsules per day of 1000 milligrams

Carom seeds

The patient should inhale steam twice a day from boiling water mixed with carom seeds. It will dilate the bronchial passages.

Rosemary

This common culinary herb has been used traditionally to ease asthma.
Rosemary tea - infuse 4 tablespoons of the needles in 1 litre of hot water for 10 minutes. Drink up to 3 cups per day.
Rosemary bath - Add 5 to 10 drops of rosemary essential oil or 1 litre of rosemary tea to a warm bath.
You can also use the tea for steam inhalation.

Astragalus

This herb can be taken as a tonic as part of your long-term daily diet. It will strengthen the immune system's natural defenses.

Typical dosage: eight or nine capsules per day of 400 500 milligram or 15 to 30 drops of tincture twice per day.


Lobelia

Lobelia is an herb that when sipped slowly relaxes the nerves and tends to stop the spasm.
If one drinks more quickly, it has a different effect, and induces vomiting.

Mullein

Antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory, Mullein also fights some of the respiratory viruses that tend to plague people with Asthma.
Mullein oil is a worthwhile remedy for bronchial congestion. The oil stops coughs by unclogging the bronchial tubes. When taken with water or fruit juice, the effect is even faster.

Typical dosage: up to 6 cups of tea per day. Steep two teaspoons of dried leaves and flowers in 14 litre of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes; or 25 to 40 drops of tincture every three hours.

Honey

Honey is one of the most common home remedies for asthma.
It is claimed that if an asthma patient inhales the air while an open jug of honey is held under his nose, he will start breathing easier and deeper.

Safflower

Take half a teaspoon of powder of the dry seeds and mix it with a tablespoon of honey.
The mix should be taken once or twice a day in treating Asthma. This will reduce the spasms by liquefying the tenacious sputum.
You can also make an infusion from five grams of flowers mixed with one tablespoon of honey and taken once a day.

Figs

Figs have proved to be quite valuable in asthma. They provide ease to the sufferer by draining off the phlegm.
Clean thoroughly three or four dry figs with warm water and soaked them overnight. Eat the soaked figs on empty stomach and drink the water in which the figs soaked. This will further help to clear the throat of built-up mucus and phlegm

Lemon

This is another fruit that is found to be beneficial in the treatment of asthma.
Dilute juice of one lemon in a glass of water. Drink it with meals and it should bring positive results in clearing your throat.
A more extreme way is to go on a three days lemon juice fast each month of distilled water and lemon juice. This will help clean out the body of toxins and mucous.