Asthma is a chronic disease affecting the upper respiratory tract, in particular the lungs. During an asthma attack, the lining of the lungs becomes inflamed, forcing the muscles in the airways to swell, inhibiting normal breathing. About 20 million people suffer from asthma with half of them being children, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Although there are numerous conventional medicines used for asthma treatment, many cause side effects; and, some people prefer natural remedies. Certain herbs have been shown effective in relieving and reducing a variety of asthma and related allergy symptoms. You should consult your natural health practitioner before using unfamiliar herbs for asthma treatment.
Turmeric reduces inflammation that may be causing swelling in the airways. Turmeric helps dilate blood vessels increasing better circulation. It relieves muscle spasms, causing the airways to relax and restoring natural breathing patterns. The recommended dose is 250 mg, 3 times daily, however you may need more or less, so confirm the dosage with a practitioner who is familiar with your case. Turmeric is a natural blood thinner, so use caution if you’re taking blood-thinning medicines.
Boswellia, also known as frankincense in the West, is used in Ayurvedic medicine to improve overall lung function and lessen the recurrence of asthma attacks. Boswellic acid, the active component of Boswellia, inhibits the inflammatory effects of leukotrienes, which are thought to be a common causative factor in asthma. Using Boswellia stops the cascade of immune system reactions that result in an asthma attack. The recommended dose is 3 mg, three times per day. People taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines and drugs to lower cholesterol should not take Boswellia without speaking to their natural health practitioner first.
Saibokuto or Chai Po Tang
The Japanese herbal tonic Saibokuto, also known in China as Chai Po Tang, has shown great efficacy in the treatment of asthma. Saibokuto is made from the combination of the Eastern herbs: minor Buplerum, Pinellia, Magnolia bark decoction, Ginger, Korean Ginseng, Scullcap and Licorice — and it may have other related herbs added depending on the apothecary and herbalist making the remedy. Not only indicated for asthma, Saibokuto is also used for various types of coughs, bronchitis, dizziness, depression, allergies, nervousness and a host of other ailments. The UMMC notes that individuals suffering from asthma who took Saibokuto were able to significantly lower their doses of corticosteroids due to the anti-inflammatory effects of the tonic. Saibokuto contains herbs that may cause side effects in sensitive individuals, so consult with an herbalist before using this for your asthma.
Parsley leaf is an expectorant, used in cases where there is much coughing and tightness in the airways and little ability to cough up phlegm. Parsley leaf soothes the cough, relieves tightness, and loosens mucus. Make a tea from parsley leaf by using 2 tsp. fresh parsley or 1 tsp. dried parsley. Add the herb to 1 cup boiling water and allow it to steep for 15 minutes. Strain and drink. Add honey to taste. Parsley may also act as a diuretic, increasing the amount and frequency of urination. If you are taking diuretics or drugs for high blood pressure, use caution when taking Parsley for asthma.
Mullein has been used for centuries for upper respiratory problems. Among its many therapeutic uses, it helps relax spasms and constriction in the airways, and relieves wheezing and shortness of breath during asthma attacks. Dried Mullein can be used on its own as an herbal tea and is found in many herbal asthma preparations.
Gingko biloba is commonly used to combat memory loss and increase blood circulation to the brain; however, it’s also highly effective for the treatment of asthma. It has anti-inflammatory properties to decrease inflammation in the lungs, lessens the hyper-responsivness of the airways to improve circulation and deliver much needed oxygen, and reduces bronchospasm during an asthma attack. Additionally the Traditional Chinese Medicine website discusses how Ginkgo has been shown to help reduce the mechanism causing wheezing. Always consult your natural health practitioner for the correct individual dosage. Gingko may produce some mild side effects such as headache, nausea and diarrhea.
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