Herbal Remedies for Asthma
Affecting over 23 million Americans (including over seven million children), asthma is a chronic condition involving the lungs. Individuals with asthma have a difficult time breathing due to inflamed and swollen airways. In some people, asthma can be triggered by exercise or the weather. In others, allergens such as dust, mold, pet dander or cigarette smoke cause asthma attacks.
Asthma can be a very serious, even life-threatening, condition for some people; and asthma attacks cause a great deal of anxiety for those who have to face them on a regular basis. Most asthma sufferers experience symptoms such as tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, chronic coughing or wheezing, and a “whistling” sound when exhaling. More severe asthma causes extreme difficulty breathing and an inability to sleep soundly due to constant bouts of coughing.
According to the American Lung Association, asthma cannot (yet) be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled. Asthma treatment is generally focused on opening the airways in the event of an attack and controlling the body’s response to asthma triggers. Many asthma patients carry inhalers containing a bronchodilator—a drug that quickly helps to expand swollen, irritated airways to allow oxygen to flow more freely. Inhaled corticosteroids are often used as long-term therapy to reduce airway inflammation.
In addition to or in place of prescription medications, some individuals find relief from asthma symptoms through natural, herbal remedies. Following are some of the most common herbal remedies for asthma along with an explanation of how each may benefit an asthma sufferer.
Herbal Remedies for Asthma
Chamomile, usually used as a relaxing tea, also acts as an antihistamine. This is useful in those individuals whose asthma is triggered by allergens. In addition, ginger may help to reduce the severity of allergic reactions.
Although somewhat controversial, ephedra has been used for centuries to help make breathing easier, to control the wheezing associated with asthma and to relieve nasal congestion, also common in individuals with both allergies and asthma. Elderberry, an herb with anti-inflammatory properties, also helps to clear nasal passages and offers an immune system boost. Similarly, garlic helps to open nasal passages and offers powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.
For asthma sufferers with a chronic dry, unproductive cough, licorice root is sometimes used to increase mucus production. Licorice root also has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy effects that mimic cortisone, but do not cause the same side effects.
When used regularly, nettle can also be helpful for asthma sufferers. Like other herbal antihistamines, nettle can help to reduce the body’s reaction to allergens, lessening the likelihood of allergy attacks.
To help open the bronchial passages, bishop’s weed may be used in a steam treatment. Bishop’s weed also helps to relieve coughing.