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A Holistic Approach to Treating Asthma

Asthma can be a debilitating condition that limits physical activity. Learn natural ways to gain control of asthma symptoms for less frequent attacks.

Asthma is a health disorder that causes the airways to swell and become narrow, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing and chest tightness and can be triggered by dust, pet dander, pollen, mold, tobacco smoke, exercise, stress, respiratory infections and chemicals in food or in the air as well as cold weather.

Conventional forms of treatment for asthma, such as the use of beta-agonists (Prednisone or Albuterol), can be effective as bronchodilators, which help open the airways, but they don’t typically reduce inflammation. In addition, many conventional asthma treatments can cause significant side effects. Fortunately, there are effective holistic alternatives available for treating asthma.

Herbal Remedies and Natural Supplements

There are specific nutrients beneficial for asthma patients, including vitamins B6, B12 and C. The minerals molybdenum and selenium can also reduce symptoms. About five to 10 percent of people who suffer from asthma find their symptoms are aggravated by sulfites, which are commonly found in restaurant foods and everyday home products. Vitamin B12 and molybdenum help in reduce allergic sensitivity to sulfites.

These supplements can also be helpful in treating asthma:

  • Butterbur -- The active components of butterbur, a perennial shrub, are isopetasin and petasin, which have anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties. Individuals who suffer from allergic asthma can decrease their symptoms by using butterbur on a consistent basis. However, if you're allergic to any members of the ragweed family of plants -- marigold, ragweed, chrysanthemum or daisy -- don’t use butterbur.
  • Boswellia -- An herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, boswellia effectively inhibits leukotriene formation in the lungs. Leukotrienes cause narrowing of the lungs' airways.
  • Bromelain -- An extract derived from pineapples, bromelain can either be taken in the form of a supplement or directly by eating fresh pineapple. Bromelain has natural anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce inflammation in the airways.
  • Essential Fatty Acids -- Arachidonic acid is a substance that causes inflammation and can therefor exacerbate the symptoms of asthma. This acid can be produced by the body or ingested via certain foods such as meat, shellfish or egg yolksConsuming essential fatty acids through fish oil, flaxseed oil or evening primrose oil can significantly reduce the amount of arachidonic acid in the body.

Additional Therapies

In addition to supplements, there are physical exercises to assist with asthma regulation. Here are some to try:

  1. Massage Therapy
    In some cases, misalignment of the spine can cause asthma attacks to occur more often. Massage therapy that's focused on working the soft tissues of the upper back between the shoulder blades can help in reducing the frequency of asthma attacks or the severity of these attacks. Chiropractic adjustments can also realign the upper thoracic vertebrae.
  2. Hydrotherapy:
    Acute asthma attacks can be treated with steam inhalation. Open the airways by placing a towel over the head and breathing in warm steam from a bowl full of hot water. Add a few drops of pure eucalyptus oil for better results. Another form of hydrotherapy that works to restore comfortable breathing involves placing a hot, damp towel over the chest area to relax the muscles.
  3. Breathing Exercises for Asthma:
    Breathing exercises can promote clear airways, strengthen the respiratory muscles, promote relaxed breathing instead of forceful breathing, improve efficient use of respiratory muscles, reduce hyperventilation and increase diaphragm function.
  4. Yoga or Tai Chi:
    These types of exercise further help patients learn to control their breath. Low-impact exercises like these are also ideal for asthma sufferers whose symptoms are aggravated by physical activity, allowing them to get the exercise they need.

The Relationship Between Diet and Asthma

A diet low in fat and sugar and high in complex carbohydrates with 12 to 15 percent protein from vegetable sources is ideal for reducing the frequency or severity of asthma symptoms. An emphasis on unprocessed, vegetarian foods can help quite a bit. Excellent foods for dilating the bronchi and reducing inflammation include garlic, collard greens, green vegetables, cherries, elderberries, apricots, onions, endive, sprouted seeds, sprouted grains and raw nuts.

Asthma patients don’t just have to rely solely on medication. Being proactive is a great way to control asthma symptoms and live a healthier life.


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