Asthma Attacks--Top 10 Natural
Remedies for Asthma
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Last Updated April 16, 2017, originally published May 15, 2010

By Louise Carr, Contributing Columnist and Susan Callahan,
Health Editor

What Is Asthma?

Asthma affects the airways, the small tubes that carry air in
and out of the lungs. Asthma causes the muscles around the
airways to tighten so the tubes narrow and become inflamed
or swollen. In some cases the body produces sticky mucus
or phlegm which narrows the airways further. When the
airways become irritated and narrow in this way, it can be
difficult to breathe. Sufferers may also cough, wheeze or
experience tightness in the chest.

Asthma UK says 5.4 million people in the UK are currently
receiving treatment for asthma, 1.1 million of which are
children. Asthma affects more than 20 million people in the
US, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of
America.  What are the risk factors for asthma? Are there
any foods that can reduce asthma attacks? Can vitamins help
to reduce asthma?

What Causes Asthma?

You are more likely to develop asthma if you have a family
history of it but certain environmental factors also influence
whether a person will suffer from the condition. Smoking
during pregnancy has been shown to significantly increase
the risk of asthma and children whose parents smoke are at
an increased risk.

Environmental pollution may increase the incidence of
asthma. Smog and smoke can irritate the airways, making
existing asthma symptoms worse. Research from the Rollins
School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, 2010,
found ozone and other pollutants from traffic significantly
increased asthma-related emergency room visits in children.
Researchers analyzed 90,000 asthma-related emergency
department visits against data on pollutants collected in
Atlanta. Ozone, pollution from cars and trucks that reacts
with oxygen, was strongly associated with an increase in
child emergency room admissions.

In 2004, according to the American Lung Association, 136
million people lived in areas that violated Environmental
Protection Agency ozone air quality standards. In 2010 the
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America named Richmond,
VA, the top "Asthma Capital" in its annual ranking of the 100
most challenging places to live with asthma, due to many
factors including a higher than average pollen score,
continued poor air quality and a lack of “100% smoke-free”


A growing number of scientists believe that asthma may
result from an overactive immune system. These scientists
believe that lowering the body's histamine levels may also
reduce the number of asthma attacks. Here are
foods and
herbs that lower histamine levels naturally.]

There may not be a cure for asthma but there are many
medicines available to help sufferers control their symptoms
and lead an active life. In addition, complementary remedies
--foods, vitamins and exercises -- can significantly help ease
the distress associated with asthma.


Caffeine is not a substitute for traditional asthma medicine
but one or two cups of strong coffee can really kick asthma

Caffeine is considered a mild bronchodilator, a type of
medicine that helps open the airways, and is similar to the
prescribed asthma drug Theophylline. The Cochrane
Collaboration analyzed the results of seven trials involving a
total of 75 people with mild to moderate asthma and found
that caffeine appears to improve airways function modestly,
for up to four hours.

A study from the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana
University found caffeine decreases wheezing,
coughing, and
other symptoms of exercise-induced asthma. Researchers
found a dose of 9 milligram per kilogram (mg/kg) of body
weight before exercising was equivalent to using an
albuterol inhaler before exertion. (Read more about
of and remedies for chronic coughing.)


Asthma sufferers can sometimes experience a mild increase
in symptoms when exercising but fitness activities are
nevertheless important and can be of real benefit as a
remedy for asthma.

Swimming may be the ideal exercise for asthma sufferers.
Swimming is particularly helpful as the warm, humid air in
the pool is less likely to trigger asthma symptoms. Swimming
is a great way to burn up to 300 calories an hour. Losing
excess weight and increasing fitness improves general lung
function, helping asthma sufferers breathe easier.

According to Asthma UK, 20% of the British Olympic Team in
Athens 2004 had asthma, so there’s no excuse not to get in
the pool.


Use yoga as a natural remedy for asthma as it helps relax the
body and improves breathing technique, channelling more
air into the lungs. The postures and breathing techniques in
Pranayama yoga were found, in two studies, to be beneficial
to asthma sufferers.

According to Asthma UK, participants showed a higher
tolerance to certain asthma triggers and experienced fewer
asthma attacks. You can also try simple relaxation and deep
breathing techniques which can help reduce stress, a trigger
for asthma.


Following the Buteyko technique (named after the Russian
researcher who developed it) can help ease symptoms of
asthma. The technique consists of shallow breathing
exercises designed to improve health by changing the
balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in exhaled air.
Following the technique is said to correct ‘over-breathing’
which expels too much carbon dioxide from the body.

A 2005 review published in Complementary Therapy
Medicine involving 60 people with asthma compared the
effects of the Buteyko Breathing Technique and a placebo.
Researchers found people using the Buteyko Breathing
Technique had a reduction in asthma symptoms. Asthma UK
funded research into the Buteyko’s effectiveness and found
that while some people’s symptoms were reduced it did not
improve the underlying condition.


Acupuncture is a way of relieving the symptoms of certain
conditions with needles inserted into specific parts of the
body. It is based on theories that the body’s energies need
to be balanced in order to achieve the best health.
Acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating asthma is uncertain
but it has been shown to improve symptoms in people
whose asthma is triggered by allergies.

Fruits and Vegetables

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can significantly improve
asthma symptoms. Not only can Vitamin C and E reduce
inflammation in the lungs but a diet high in these nutrients is
a boost for the immune system. A strong immune system
helps fight off colds and flu, which can trigger asthma.

A French study in 1993 looked at the food diaries of 68,535
women and found those who ate the most tomatoes, carrots
and leafy vegetables had the lowest prevalence of asthma
symptoms. Apples were slightly related to lowering asthma.

Apples contain quercetin which is an anti- histamine and
useful for lowering reaction to asthma triggers. A University
of Porto, Portugal, study in 2008 looked at 174 asthmatics
and found that following a ‘Mediterranean diet’ full of fresh
fruit and vegetables increased the likelihood of asthma to be
under control in adults.

Hot Baths

Taking a long, hot bath can help ease the symptoms of
asthma. Inhaling the steam helps break up the mucous or
phlegm trapped in the airways and assists in opening the
tubes so breathing becomes easier.

Adding eucalyptus or peppermint oil can increase the
therapeutic effects. Draping a towel over the head and
inhaling steam from a basin can also work. Go easy at first as
some people find their symptoms worsen with too much
humidity. Try plain steam first for a few minutes then
progress to oils when you feel the benefits.

Herbal Medicine

Certain herbal medicines have been suggested as potential
asthma-busters, including coleus forskholii, ginkgo biloba,
tylophora asthmatica and saiboku-to. Coleus (Coleus
forskohlii) is used in Indian Ayurvedic remedies. It contains
forskolin, a substance that helps relax the muscle in the

Ginkgo biloba contains ginkgolides which slows down the
process of a chemical involved in triggering asthma and
allergies. Only small studies have taken place, which suggest
that taking ginkgolides reduces the narrowing of the airways
in response to asthma triggers and it partially protects
against exercise-induced asthma.


Butterbur herb has been found effective in reducing reliance
on asthma medications in 40% of patients.]


The herb boswellia, also known as Salai guggal, is known to
inhibit the formation of substances called leukotrienes. When
leukotrienes are released in the lungs they cause narrowing
of the airways. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study by
Gupta I et al. in 1998 treated 40 patients with a boswellia
extract three times a day for six weeks. 70 percent of asthma
patients improved; their breathing difficulties and the
number of attacks were reduced. Consult your doctor before
starting this or any other herbal treatment as certain
remedies may interact with other asthma medications and
can cause side effects.  

Vitamin B6 Reduces Asthma Attacks

Getting enough of this vitamin can also help. Researchers at
the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
studying the effects of Vitamin B6 on those with sickle-cell
anaemia discovered that some members of the non-sickle-
cell group also had a history of asthma.

"When they took 50 milligrams of B6 daily, it reduced the
severity of their asthma attacks," says Clayton L. Natta, M.D.,
associate professor of medicine, who conducted the
research. High levels of Vitamin B6 can be toxic; scientists
suggest a level of 50 mg can be safely taken.


Botox May Relieve Asthma Spasms. Botox, commonly
used to fight wrinkles, may also help relieve spasms in
asthma attacks.

12. Curcumin Reduces Asthma Symptoms.  Curcumin is the
yellow spice which gives curry its color. Scientists have long
known that curcumin has remarkable anti-inflammatory
properties. Recently, scientists have discovered that
curcumin's anti-inflammatory properties help to relieve the
inflammation that characterizes asthma and bronchitis.

In one study, scientists in Singapore studied 2,478 older
people to learn whether how much curry they ate affected
their respiratory health. All the participants were over the
age of 55.

The study, carried out in 2012 by scientists at the National
University of Singapore, found that people whose diets had
the included curry at least once per month had significantly
higher lung capacity.  

Even among those who currently smoke, the addition of
curry to their diets was linked with a 9.2% higher lung
capacity. Among former smokers,those who ate curry at
least once per month had a lung capacity that was 10.3%
greater than non-curry eaters.

The exact mechanism by which curcumin performs its magic
on your lungs is not known.

However, scientists have clues. Curcumin inhibits enzymes
(lipooxygenase and cyclooxugenase-2), enzymes which are
responsible for triggering the production of down-regulates
the production of powerful inflammatory agents
(leukotrienes, prostoglandins and thromboxanes).   

By thwarting the production of inflammation which would
otherwise close off your bronchial passages, curcumin allows
you to breathe more about 10% more deeply and expel air
about 10% more forcefully.  

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Certain forms of yoga help to
lower your risk for asthma attacks.
Eating curry at least once a month
increases lung capacity and lowers
risk for asthma.