9 Natural Asthma Remedies

Guest Post 

Asthma is a disorder that causes the airways of the lungs to become hyper-sensitive, causing wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. The disease affects approximately 25 million Americans, and 60 percent of those cases are spurred by allergies. Typically, asthma is treated through medication, with the help of an inhaler or nebulizer. But scientists are also exploring the potential benefits of several natural remedies, be they vitamins, peppers, or even mushrooms! Here are 9 possible “cures” under investigation:

Vitamin C – Vitamin C acts contains powerful antioxidant and antihistamine properties. If you’re wondering what a histamine is, think of it as your body’s defense mechanism against allergens; you sneeze, cough and itch because your body is trying to rid itself of pollen and other irritants. Vitamin C lowers the amount of histamines in your body, making asthma attacks less severe and more infrequent.

Quercitin – Like vitamin C, Quercitin works as an antihistamine, helping to alleviate the allergy symptoms that frequently trigger asthma attacks. It’s found naturally in onions, apples and buckwheat tea, but you can also buy it as a dietary supplement. Clinical trials evaluating the role of quercitin in human asthma prevention are lacking, but animal studies have found that the supplement may have potential uses as an anti-inflammatory drug. Avoid if you’re taking antibiotics, pregnant, or breastfeeding.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Fish oil, krill oil, plant oils – these supplements are all chock-full of omega-3s. In addition to providing protection against heart disease and stroke, omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in treating asthma. One study measured the effects of fish oil in 29 asthmatic children, and reported a reduction in symptoms compared to those who took a placebo. Further research is needed, however, to establish a definitive link.

Chili Peppers – Spicy foods stimulate fluids in the mouth, throat and lungs, thinning out the mucus in the airways so it can be coughed up: gross, but good for your airways. Cayenne peppers improve blood circulation, which can help to stimulate tired lungs; additionally, capsaicin ¬– the stuff that makes peppers so hot – is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. That nuclear curry just might help ease your asthma symptoms!

Ginger – A recent Columbia University study found that asthmatics who consumed ginger in tandem with their prescribed medicine had improved bronchodilation; in other words, their airways were more relaxed, making it easier for them to breathe. Consumed as a spice, in tea, or as a supplement, ginger also provides plenty of fiber, manganese, and vitamin C.

Reishi Mushroom – This fungus isn’t exactly scrumptious – some people describe it as having a tough texture and bitter taste. It’s commonly prescribed by practitioners of Eastern medicine for its immunity-boosting powers, but acids found in the Reishi mushroom may also be good for strengthening the lungs and preventing an asthma attack. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that ASHMI, a Chinese herbal product containing the fungus, was helpful in controlling asthma. However, more research is needed to understand this mushroom’s pulmonary effects.

Licorice Root – I’m not talking about Twizzlers here, but rather, the ancient herb used as medicine for more than 5,000 years. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, licorice root can help to reduce inflammation and loosen up mucus. Licorice can be taken as an extract, incorporated into tea (for more flavor and asthma-fighting power, add ginger!), or you can just chew on the root itself. Just make sure not to take more than 20 grams a day, as this may contribute to headache, high blood pressure, and heart problems.

Flavonoids – Flavonoids are antioxidant-rich compounds found in a whole array of foods: apples, green tea, chocolate, red wine, and more. They work by destroying cell-damaging free radicals, and scientists believe that they work as powerful anti-histamines as well. As an added bonus, they can defend against heart disease; one or two glasses of red wine daily can significantly cut your risk! As if you need more reasons to eat apples and chocolate.

Gingko – Gingko is thought to decrease inflammation, soothe hyper-irritated airways, and cut down on uncomfortable bronchospasms. There’s been extensive research indicating that the Gingko biloba plant has the potential to help with memory disorders like Alzheimer’s, but its asthmatic benefits still require more research before they can be considered definitive.

While these foods and vitamins may be useful in helping with the symptoms of asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions, it’s important to talk things over with your doctor first before trying any natural medicine. Also, remember to get plenty of exercise and drink lots of water – but you already knew that, right? Best of luck, and be well!

Zoe Camp is an avid blogger for justnebulizers.com and a student at Columbia University who spends her time researching and writing about health care, specifically pulmonary health issues.

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