Holistic Remedies for Asthma

Because of the severity of the physical and emotional effects of the problem, many asthma sufferers seek additional help beyond what their doctors recommend. While many alternative medicine treatments proliferate, the Mayo Clinic has identified a number of natural remedies which have some evidence to support their claims.

Many alternative asthma treatments have some evidence to support their claims

Eat Specific Foods

Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which boost the immune system and may improve lung function and decrease asthma symptoms. Treating asthma with diet is best done by getting these nutrients from whole foods, rather than supplements. Vitamins and minerals often work better in combination with their naturally occurring complements than separately. Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce lung inflammation and other symptoms. They can be found in high-fat fish, such as salmon, nuts like almonds and Brazil nuts, flaxseed and certain oils.

Avoid Specific Foods

Some foods may exacerbate the symptoms of asthma, including foods high in saturated fat (e.g., red meat), sodium, dairy and containing additives, preservatives and artificial sweeteners. Sodium may trigger attacks by stimulating the immune system’s response related to asthma, while dairy products can increase the production of mucus.

Add Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular function, including strengthening the lungs. Exercise can trigger an asthma attack, especially if performed in cold weather, so check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Start slowly and build up your heart rate as you gauge the effects of your exercise.

Experiment with Herbs

Healers have used herbs to treat asthma for thousands of years. Still used in many countries, herbal remedies which have the best reputation for improving asthma symptoms include: butterbur, ginkgo extract, dried ivy, choline, French maritime pine bark extract, tylophora indica and Indian frankincense.

Breathing Exercises

In order to decrease the amount of medicine necessary to treat asthma, as well as to reduce the symptoms, consider a regimen of breathing exercises, including: the Buteyko technique (focuses on breathing less and stress reduction); the Papworth method (focuses on deep breathing, using the nose and diaphragm); yoga exercises (focuses on slow, steady breathing and stress reduction).

Additional Resources

Mayo Clinic: Asthma Treatment – Do Complementary and Alternative Approaches Work?

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Asthma and Complementary Health Approaches

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