Asthma is a respiratory disorder characterized by episodic constrictions and inflammation of the bronchial tubes. It can be acute or chronic, and both children and adults can have this problem.
Some 26 million Americans suffer from asthma, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Asthma attacks occur when there is an obstruction in the flow of air in the lungs. Common triggers are allergies, air pollution, cold air, humidity, respiratory infections, strong emotions, stress, physical activity, sulfites and preservatives in food, and certain medications.
The exact cause of this disorder is not known, but a number of factors increase your chance of developing asthma, such as genetics, an existing allergic condition, obesity and excessive smoking.
Common symptoms of asthma include wheezing (especially on expiration), coughing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing. The severity of symptoms ranges from minor to serious and even life threatening.
You can control the symptoms with lifestyle changes, dietary changes, medicines as well as herbs. In fact, many herbs can help treat and prevent asthma attacks.
Here are the top 10 herbs for treating asthma.
Oregano is a powerful herb for treating asthma. Along with anti-inflammatory properties, it contains carvacrol, flavonoids and terpenes that work as lung-cleansing elements.
This herb can reduce inflammation of the respiratory tract and bronchial tubes, thus providing relief from asthma symptoms.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of oregano tea daily when suffering from asthma. To make the tea, steep 3 teaspoon of oregano in 1 cup of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain, add honey as per taste and drink it.
- Alternatively, take 1 tablespoon of juice extracted from fresh oregano leaves a few times a day to relieve asthma symptoms and chronic coughs.
2. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba contains antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties that help treat asthma.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Huazhong University of Science and Technology (Medical Sciences) found that extracts of this herb helped decrease the infiltration of inflammatory cells in the asthmatic airway and relieved the airway inflammation.
It is readily available in the market in supplement form.
Note: Ginkgo biloba may interact with certain medications, so consult your doctor before taking this supplement.
Another well-known herb used for treating asthma is ginger. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce airway inflammation and inhibit airway contraction.
According to a study presented at the American Thoracic Society 2013 International Conference, several compounds in ginger may help relax smooth muscle tissue in the airways, which is constricted during asthma attacks. Further studies, however, are still required
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily. To make the tea, add 1inch of ginger (cut into small pieces) to a pot of boiling water. Simmer for 10 minutes, strain, allow it to cool and drink it.
- Another option is to mix equal amounts of ginger juice, pomegranate juice and honey. Consume 1 tablespoon of this mixture 2 or 3 times a day.
- You can also take ginger supplements after consulting your doctor.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, garlic is a popular medicinal herb used to treat asthma. Its anti-inflammatory properties help clear congestion in the lungs. In addition, its antibiotic and antiviral properties help boost immunity and fight infections that can trigger asthma.
- Boil 2 to 3 garlic cloves in ¼ cup of milk. Allow it to cool to room temperature and drink it once daily.
- Alternatively, eat 2 garlic cloves with 1 teaspoon each of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and honey each morning before breakfast.
- Another option is to eat 1 to 2 crushed raw garlic cloves daily to boost immunity and prevent asthma attacks.
- You can also take garlic supplements after consulting your doctor.
5. Slippery Elm
Slippery elm is another effective herb for asthma. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help thin the mucus that clogs the airways.
It also provides relief from coughing and tightening of the chest. In addition to asthma, it can help treat bronchitis, sore throats and coughs.
- Add 2 teaspoons of the inner bark of slippery elm to 2 cups of boiling water. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain, add honey as per taste and drink this tea twice daily when suffering from asthma.
- You can also enjoy some slippery elm lozenges that are readily available in the market to reduce inflammation of the bronchial tubes.
Note: Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take slippery elm.
The herb licorice also helps in the treatment of asthma. Licorice has a systemic anti-inflammatory effect on the lungs, which helps reduce inflammation of the bronchial tubes, calm the airways and restore normal breathing. In addition, it has immune-stimulant properties.
- Add 2 teaspoons of licorice root powder to a cup of hot water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, add honey as per taste and drink it once daily when suffering from asthma.
- You can also take this herb in supplement form.
Note: Licorice is not suitable for people who have diabetes, high blood pressure, adrenal disease or reduced kidney or liver functioning.
Turmeric is a powerful herb to prevent asthma attacks and other allergies. It contains the active ingredient curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that helps fight asthma symptoms.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in 1 cup of milk and boil it. Allow it to cool and drink it twice daily.
- You can also take curcumin supplements after consulting a doctor.
Lemongrass is widely used in traditional medicines for treating asthma, coughs and other respiratory disorders. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties that help reduce inflammation and fight infections. In addition, it has vitamin C that boosts your immune system.
- Add 2 teaspoons of dried lemongrass to 2 cups of water ½ teaspoon of grated ginger, 2 cloves and a small piece of a cinnamon stick.
- Bring it to a boil, then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Strain, add a little lemon juice and honey and drink it once daily when suffering from asthma.
9. Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle is an excellent treatment for allergy-related asthma. This herb contains natural antihistamines and anti-inflammatory properties that help open up constricted bronchial and nasal passages to relieve asthma symptoms. In addition, it is rich in butyric acid, which helps maintain a healthy immune system and metabolism.
- Add 1 tablespoon of dried stinging nettle root or leaves to a cup of hot water. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Strain, add honey as per taste and drink it. You can drink this herbal tea a few times per day when suffering from asthma.
- You can also take nettle supplements after consulting your doctor.
Note: This herb may not be suitable for pregnant women and young children.
10. Bishop’s Weed
Bishop’s weed, also called carom seeds or ajwain, is also useful for treating asthma. It exerts a strong antispasmodic effect on the inflamed bronchioles, which in turn relieves asthma symptoms.
It can even help prevent or ease asthma attacks. Bishop’s weed can also treat bronchitis, emphysema and whooping cough, as well as cardiovascular disorders. The seeds of this herb are primarily used in asthma treatment.
- Mix together 1 teaspoon each of bishop’s weed seeds and jaggery. Take this mixture twice daily.
- You can also chew some roasted bishop’s weed seeds with water to get relief from asthma symptoms.
- Try to identify your asthma triggers and avoid them.
- Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke, indoor and outdoor pollution, and other common allergens.
- Include some aerobic exercise, resistance training, and stretching or yoga in your daily routine.
- Do not exercise in cold, dry air, and always warm up before exercising.
- Maintain optimal humidity levels. If needed, use a dehumidifier.
- Clean your home at least once a week. Always wear a mask while cleaning.
- Cover your nose and mouth if you need to go out in the cold.
- Avoid food additives, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, fried foods and artificial sweeteners.
- Eat foods high in vitamin B12.
- Take omega-3 supplements after consulting a doctor to help decrease inflammation.
- Eat foods high in antioxidants to reduce free radical activity, which tends to stimulate inflammation.