When you have asthma, it can be hard to exercise or even walk uphill without your throat closing up. It’s hard not always being able to breathe. But when your only asthma remedy comes with a laundry list of side effects, it’s even harder.
Fortunately, the harsh drugs typically prescribed for asthma sufferers aren’t the only way to fight the disease.
Below, we’ve listed several natural remedies for asthma that work wonders without any side effects. Read on to learn some healthier treatment options.
What is Asthma?
First, let’s see a brief overview of asthma so we can understand how these natural remedies work.
Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs. It causes air passages leading to the lungs to narrow in response to certain stimuli.
People who have asthma have inflamed bronchial tubes with excess mucous, making their breathing more constricted. They also have extra-sensitive air passageways. Most people with asthma have allergies.
When an asthma attack is triggered, the muscles around the airways tighten, constricting breathing even further. This causes the coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and chest pain symptoms of asthma.
What Causes Asthma?
Asthma can be caused by environmental factors like cigarette smoke and allergens. Heavy exposure to cigarette smoke or allergens, especially during ages 0-3, is highly likely to cause asthma.
Asthma can also be passed down genetically.
Typical Treatments for Asthma
Typically, your doctor will prescribe inhalant drugs like steroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs. These open airway passages by quickly reducing inflammation. They are to be used daily to reduce the frequency of attacks.
Your doctor will also prescribe a bronchodilator. Bronchodilators are inhalant drugs that open airways by relaxing the muscles around them. These are commonly referred to as “rescue inhalers” because they are meant to quickly abate asthma symptoms during an attack.
Your doctor will probably also tell you other lifestyle choices and practical steps you can take to reduce asthma attacks and symptoms. Many of these are included in our list of natural asthma remedies below.
Side Effects of Asthma Medications
However, use of these inhalers and other asthma medications may actually worsen your asthma in the long run. Local and systemic side effects of these treatments include:
- Thrush (yeast infection of the mouth)
- A bad taste in the mouth
- A sore or itchy throat or mouth
- Reflex coughing/tracheal spasms
- Stunted growth in children
- Osteoporosis or decreased bone density
- Easy bruising
- Muscle weakness
- Worsening of cataract or glaucoma
- Increased heart rate
- Anxiety, nervousness or tremors
- Fluid retention
- Weight gain
- Elevated blood pressure or blood sugar
- Flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or upset stomach
- Nasal congestion
- Upper respiratory tract infections
If you overuse a rescue inhaler or, especially, a long-acting beta agonist inhaler, you actually increase your risk of a severe or even fatal asthma attack.
Natural Remedies for Asthma
Fortunately, there are also much more natural remedies for asthma. These include
In general, a healthy body works better. And that’s especially true for asthmatics.
Eating the right diet gives your body all the nutrients it needs to strengthen the immune system and fight off environmental toxins. It can also help your body control inflammatory reactions. Keto is very effective in assisting in curbing the effects of Asthma.
It’s good to eat a wide variety of foods to make sure your body isn’t lacking any of the nutrients it needs. And for asthmatics, there are specific foods that can help reduce asthma symptoms.
Antioxidants help remove toxins from the body, which can help how your body responds to environmental asthma triggers. Antioxidant vitamins E and C may even reduce inflammation and wheezing.
Read more about real foods high in vitamin C.
Folate (vitamin B9) decreases inflammation and allergic sensitivity and may reduce the asthma symptom of wheezing. Foods that contain high levels of folate include leafy, green vegetables, and nuts.
Asthmatics need more vitamin B5 than other people because their bodies don’t utilize it efficiently. Certain asthma medications can also cause vitamin b5 deficiency. Vitamin B5 can also help reduce stress, which reduces asthma attack frequency.
Sunflower seeds, avocado, and salmon are good sources of vitamin B5.
Carotenoid foods, for example, can reduce the frequency of asthma attacks. Carotenoids are the compounds that give many bright red or orange fruits and vegetables their color.
They are also converted to vitamin A in the body once ingested. And vitamin A is great for maintaining healthy, non-excessive levels of mucus in the bodies air passageways.
Carotenoid foods include carrots, tomatoes, red peppers, and plantains. They also include butternut squash, sweet potatoes, kale and collard greens. Citrus fruits, cantaloupes, and papayas also have a high concentration of carotenoids.
Studies show that having high blood levels of carotenoids reduces asthma.
Cruciferous foods are high in antioxidants and sulforaphane. Science has shown that sulforaphane helps protect asthmatics from the harmful effects of pollutants in the air. Cruciferous foods include bok choy, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens and kale.
Omega-3s reduce inflammation of air passageways and support immune system health. Foods rich in omega-3s include fish, flaxseeds, chia seed, and walnuts.
Probiotics like yogurt can actually prevent the development of asthma and may reduce allergic reactions. They also support the immune system and aid digestion.
Garlic, onion and mustard seeds are natural antifungals and antimicrobials. And they contain quercetin, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation. They also help boost the immune system.
And, believe it or not, caffeine is an effective home remedy for asthma. It opens up nasal passages for easier breathing.
Figs and ginger are also said to be helpful in reducing asthma symptoms. Vitamin supplements are a good idea, too.
Homemade body rubs made from essential oils are a wonderful, aromatic remedy for asthma symptoms. Try these essential oil combinations for quick asthma relief.
Mustard Oil and Camphor
Mix the mustard oil and camphor together and massage it into your chest to relieve asthma symptoms. It works faster if you warm it up first.
Eucalyptus and Peppermint Oils
Rubbing eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil will have the same effect, plus an added bonus. Both eucalyptus and peppermint oil are great for opening up nasal passages and other airways in the body. Eucalyptus oil is also effective for breaking down mucus.
You can also open air passages quickly by placing a few drops of eucalyptus oil in boiling water and inhaling the steam. Or put a few drops on a towel or napkin and place it near your head while you sleep. Do this and you will breathe so much better every morning for the rest of your life.
Frankincense and Lavender Oils
Frankincense and lavender oils are another fragrant oil combination for reducing asthma symptoms. Frankincense oil is good for reducing inflammation.
Lavender oil helps relieve the stress and anxiety that can lead to or exacerbate an asthma attack. It also helps reduce the body’s production of mucus.
Like the other oils, they should be massaged onto the chest, and/or boiled in water and inhaled. Inhaling these oils in steam daily will greatly reduce the severity of your asthma. Plus, they smell amazing.
Primrose oil contains a certain fatty acid called GLA, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Use it every evening to reduce asthma-related inflammation.
Tea Tree Oil
This can be applied like the others or on a warm face cloth. Saturate a face cloth in warm water, wring it out and then put a little tea tree oil on the cloth. Lie back and place the face cloth over your face, inhaling the fumes, until it has cooled to room temperature.
Tea tree oil is a natural expectorant, decongestant, anti-inflammatory and microbial. It will relieve wheezing and coughing and reduce inflammation and excess mucus.
These breathing exercises will also help you breathe easier and reduce asthma-related irritation of your airways.
Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, is the most efficient way to breathe. It maximizes how air is distributed in your lungs.
We all breathe this way when we’re babies. But later in life, especially for those with asthma or anxiety disorders, we sometimes develop less healthy, shallow breathing habits. Doing diaphragmatic breathing exercises helps reset your body’s breathing pattern.
Here’s how you do it. First, get comfortable. You can do this exercise while sitting or laying down.
Next, breathe slowly in and out through your nose. If your nose is plugged, breathe through pursed lips.
When you breathe in, your abdomen should push out, but not your chest. Your chest should stay flat. This is the essence of diaphragmatic breathing.
When you breathe out, your abdomen should fall. You should be exhaling for the same amount of time as you inhale. Practice this for 5-10 breaths twice a day.
Buteyko breathing is a breathing exercise that helps you develop better control of your breathing. Practice this as follows.
Sit comfortably upright. Breath normally through your nose for 30 seconds.
Then, take a normal breath in through your nose. When you exhale, push all the air out of your lungs and hold your breath.
Hold it for as long as you can until you feel the need to breathe. Then go back to normal breathing. Repeat this 3-5 times.
The pursed-lip breathing technique is an easy technique to help you breathe during an asthma attack. If you are experiencing an asthma attack, simply breathe in slowly through your nose and breathe out slowly through pursed lips, as if whistling. This will get trapped air out of your lungs and help you return your breathing to normal.
Other Natural Remedies for Asthma
Here are a few more, final tips to reduce asthma symptoms.
First and foremost, learn to manage your stress. Obviously, stress is bad for anyone’s health. But, aside from environmental triggers, stress is the biggest exacerbator of asthma there is. Plus, many asthma medications can negatively impact the adrenal system, which governs our ability to handle stress. as a result, many asthmatics are a reduced ability to deal with stress.
Regularly practicing the above breathing techniques, especially diaphragmatic breathing, is a huge help against stress. You may also benefit progressive muscle relaxation, and deep tissue massages.
Avoid aerosol products. And avoid any kind of secondhand smoke, especially cigarette smoke, but also smoke from fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.
Open windows regularly to get fresh air into your house, even in the winter. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that indoor air is usually 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air.
It would also be worth it to use the more expensive air filters in your heating and air conditioning system and change them often. If you live in a damp area, use a dehumidifier.
Reduce allergens in your life by using hypoallergenic everything. Switch out any products you can with hypoallergenic versions that are free of dyes and perfumes. And try to use more natural cleaning products instead of those with harsh chemicals that may irritate breathing passages.
Wash your bedding at least once a week. Change your pillowcase even more often. Use a fresh, clean towel every time you bathe.
Reduce pet dander by not allowing pets on your bed or even in your bedroom. And, brush your pets daily to keep excess pet hair in the trash instead of floating around your house.
Breathe Easier the Natural Way
Use these natural remedies for asthma and get your breath back.
Also, check out our delicious and healthy recipes.