Asthma Alternative Treatments
The goal of alternative
treatments for asthma is to bolster the body’s ability to protect itself from
asthma triggers and to strengthen the lungs and immune and hormonal systems. As
with many alternative treatments for any condition, opinions are often mixed as
to the efficacy of some treatment methods. Research is often minimal in
comparison to traditional medicine treatments.
However, many people have had
success in using alternative treatments in the management of many conditions,
including asthma. Before trying any asthma alternative treatments, you should
always check with your doctor to be sure that the methods are safe and right
for you or your child.
Herbs and Supplements
A number of over-the-counter herbs
and dietary supplements have been shown to relieve asthma symptoms. However,
much of the research is ongoing or still inconclusive. Always consult a doctor
before trying any alternative treatments to find if they are safe for you or
your child. Here are a few herbs and supplements that some patients find
- Ginkgo extract has been shown to reduce
- Lobelia (Indian tobacco) was used by
Native Americans to treat respiratory disorders, including asthma.
- Other natural herbs that have been used to treat
asthma include mullein, boswellia (Indian frankincense),
dried ivy, and butterbur.
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and omega-3
fatty acids (fish oil) can reduce inflammation and alleviate
- Coffee and tea can both
be useful in treating asthma symptoms. Caffeine is a natural (mild)
bronchodilator. Tea contains minute amounts of theophylline, one of the
major prescription drugs for asthma.
Mind Body Approaches
Studies have shown that
emotional stress can exacerbate asthma symptoms and trigger asthma attacks. For
some asthma sufferers, muscular
relaxation therapy can improve lung function. Biofeedback uses
monitors to reveal physiological changes to patients and helps them to control
their bodies by understanding how they respond physically to different stimuli.
Evidence on the efficacy of biofeedback is minimal.
Yoga and Breathing Techniques
A key aspect of yoga practice
is the science of proper, controlled breathing, called pranayama. Pranayama includes deep breathing
exercises. This facet of yoga may help asthma sufferers by teaching them to
expand the lungs, promote deep breathing, and reduce stress. Other breathing
techniques, like the Buteyko
breathing technique and the Papworth
method, can be similarly effective in reducing asthma
This technique, used in
traditional Chinese medicine, involves placing very thin needles in strategic
points on the body. It’s sometimes used to ease the symptoms of asthma, but
there is minimal scientific evidence to support its efficacy.