You might know or see a person who doesn’t participate in any strenuous activities or sometimes wear face masks when strolling through a park filled with aromatic flowers and dirt. They might bring these odd contraptions that they puff when they look like they’re having some hard time breathing. It might look odd, but they might be suffering from asthma. It is estimated that over 334 million people around the globe are suffering from asthma, whether they know it or not. Although less than 1% of the world’s population has died because of the disease, there is a steady flow of hospital admissions because of it. And there are some people who seem relatively in the dark about asthma. So what is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease which affects the airway through increased mucus production and narrowing or of the airways. The mucus and passage narrowing is caused by inflammation of the bronchial passages, which is caused by different factors. Occupational asthma is triggered by gases or fumes in the work area, while exercise-induced asthma is caused by strenuous activity. Allergies from pollen, dust, and even peanuts are categorized as allergic asthma while millions of children are diagnosed with childhood asthma yearly. The symptoms vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
Asthma is a lifetime illness that requires regular monitoring and adherence to medication. Corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers, and beta-agonists are some examples of prescription drugs that should be taken daily and in combination in order to prevent asthma attacks and allow for regular exercise. But there are also other ways to manage symptoms of asthma. Home remedies are beneficial in alleviating some of the weight asthma brings along with its medication. They have been effective because of the natural properties that the ingredients have, but there is a catch. These can be taken after speaking to your physician about natural remedies for asthma and ensuring that it won’t cause any harm to your body. Here are the commonly used herbal treatments for fighting asthma.
Herbal Remedies for Asthma
1. Mustard Oil – this is a well-known body tonic that is used as a cooking ingredient in India. Since then it has proven beneficial for the hair and skin and was discovered to be a great alternative remedy for asthma attacks. The most common method of using mustard oil is heating a pot of water until it boils and adding a few tablespoons of mustard oil and caraway seeds. Inhaling the steam allows it to enter the lungs and soothe asthma attacks. Another method is to mix it with rock salt until a paste forms and rubbing the paste on the chest for relief after the attack.
2. Ginger – it may be commonly used for Mediterranean or Asian dishes, but ginger roots pack a powerful punch when treating common ailments. It is widely known as a remedy for nausea, but studies have shown that it is also effective in treating asthma. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties make it the ideal home remedy for asthma. Research has proven that ginger releases antioxidants that help in relieving asthma symptoms just as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). The easiest way to prepare it is chopping up the ginger into pieces and steeps them in boiling water for 5 minutes. This allows the essential components to be released and not only soothes aches and pains but asthma symptoms as well.
3. Eucalyptus oil – an extract of the eucalyptus tree or “gum tree”, it has been commonly applied on the chest when a person suffers from a cold or bronchitis. After being carefully examined, eucalyptus oil was used in a study for the treatment of asthmatic patients. The results proved satisfactory as it was able to decrease the inflammatory process of asthma. It can either be ingested or topically applied and is a common alternative when treating the disease. Eucalyptus oil should be diluted with water before ingestion or inhalation to decrease chances of allergic reactions that could be fatal. Patch tests are recommended prior to use by applying as small amount on the arm and waiting for 24 hours to see if an allergic reaction has formed.
4. Garlic – a known ingredient in traditional medicine and used for its anti-inflammatory and warming capabilities. Garlic is use to treat some forms of asthma, but not all. Dust can accumulate when handling garlic and this can be a trigger for anyone who has allergic asthma or occupational asthma when frequently handling the bulbs. But garlic has been beneficial in liquefying accumulated mucus in the lungs, allowing it to be expelled from the body more efficiently. It also helps lower the inflammatory response in the lungs which relaxes the airways for better breathing. An Ayurvedic method suggests eating 3 cloves of garlic boiled in milk while Western remedies advise consuming it with apple cider vinegar and honey before breakfast.
5. Honey – this is one of the most common treatments for respiratory ailments such as asthma. It has the ability to relax the airways and allowing a person to breathe better. According to studies, honey is helpful in relieving coughing related to asthma in children and teens. Dark honey is recommended by experts because it contains more antioxidants compared to light honey and can only be used by people aged 2 and older. Taking one teaspoon at a time can heal the inflammation and coughing while mixing it in tea is also an option. Caution should also be exercised when taking honey as it may contain pollen, so allergic asthmatics might want to choose other forms of remedies.
6. Lemons – used for thousands of years for its antioxidant qualities, lemon has been used in treating symptoms of asthma. The antioxidants and Vitamin C present in lemons help in combating the inflammatory process and the body’s allergic response to pollen or dirt. Although it is perfectly fine to drink lemon juice on its own, adding water and a dash of ginger or honey can help with the asthma attack. It is said that lemon juice helps in lowering the intensity and severity of attacks so drinking it more often can be beneficial in the long run.
Herbal remedies for common coughs and colds have either been passed down from one generation to the next or proven by scientists for their amazing capabilities, and herbal treatments for asthma are no different. Their effects and natural qualities make them a suitable choice for treating asthma. Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma, but there are so many ways to keep it from controlling your life and having you miss out at living to the fullest potential. Allowing it to become a hindrance won’t make it easier, and seeking treatment might feel like a chore. But using natural remedies to alleviate symptoms and understanding the condition will make treatment not just endurable, but enjoyable as well. These natural remedies are still undergoing research to confirm its efficacy and how it works. Though there are gray areas on how they exactly affect the body and the fact that a lot more research is needed to confirm their use, natural remedies still hold a place in our lives as nature’s secret to wellness.