Herbs for Asthma

Each year, thousands of people die from asthma related complications. Asthma is a chronic respiratory ailment with symptoms like wheezing, coughing, congestion, and shortness of breath. Many people often suffer anxiety about not being able to breathe.

Statistics show that children are more likely to die from asthma in the summer while people over 65 are more likely to die in the winter months from asthma.

Many things can trigger asthma attacks like histamine, strenuous exercise, cigarette smoke, chemicals, aspirin, pet dander and sulfites that are added to food. There’s also a lot more pollution these days than in the past and some speculate that’s part of the rise in asthma cases each year. People are often stuck working inside and some believe that indoor pollution or “sick buildings” are also to blame.

One drug used to treat asthma is theophylline also known as Theo-Dur. Theo-Dur is a bronchodilator which opens up the bronchial tubes.

If you catch yourself off without your medication, a few cups of coffee have been shown to be a good emergency substitute in helping open the bronchial tubes. Coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate and other caffeinated drinks or foods are good to help fend off a severe asthma attack. Not only do they contain caffeine but they also contain two other major asthma fighting compounds, theobromine and theophylline, both of which are xanthines. Xanthines help stop bronchospasms and open up bronchial airways.

Natural approaches should be used with caution and only as supplemental treatments to what your doctor has prescribed for you. These natural treatments may help reduce the amount of medication that you need but should be discussed with your doctor first.

Ephedra (Ephedra sinica) The Chinese call this herb Ma Huang and have used it for thousands of years. Americans on the other hand have been known to abuse this substance and several deaths have occurred because of its misuse. If you decide to use this herb, please use it with caution. It is suggested that you obtain this herb from a health food store and use it as a tea instead of buying over-the-counter products. It also has a stimulant effect so you may want to avoid this herb at night.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Australians have used nettle for many years as an asthma treatment and as an antihistamine. It has gained popularity for it’s affects with allergies and asthma. If you harvest your own nettle, be sure to wear gloves as the plant does have a stinging effect. The tiny hairs lose their stinging effect when cooked though.

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) and Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). These two herbs contain two chemicals called creosol and alpha-pinene that help loosen bronchial secretions although Anise doesn’t contain very much alpha-pinene. Other herbs that can be used like Anise and Fennel are parsley seed, coriander, juniper berries, cardamom, sassafras, ginger, dill, and tarragon.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). Licorice tea is good for a sore throat, cough and asthma. Licorice is generally safe to have up to three cups a day, but long term use or excessive amounts can produce headaches, lethargy, water retention, loss of potassium and high blood pressure. One of the best ways to use licorice is to use a dried root to stir your other herbal teas.

Ginkgo (Gingko biloba). Gingko has been used to treat asthma, allergies, bronchitis and coughs. It is popular in this country for treatment of strokes and increasing blood flow to the brain in the elderly but in China it is still used to treat asthma. A standard dose of gingko is 60-240 milligrams and does higher than that can cause diarrhea, irritability and restlessness.

Tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum) and other citrus fruits that contain Vitamin C. Studies have shown that 1,000 milligrams of Vitamin C a day can prevent asthma attacks, bronchospasms, wheezing, respiratory infections, nasal congestion, watery eyes and other allergy symptoms. Vitamin C blocks the release of histamine which is a leading cause of allergy symptoms.

As you can see, treating asthma with herbs and natural foods can be very tasty if you eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.

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