Home remedies for asthma (backed by research)

Garlic is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to ease allergic reactions.

Garlic is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to ease allergic reactions.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • It is reasonable to try out home remedies but with caution.
  • Use the herbs, essential oils, and related remedies carefully, and always inform your doctor that you are trying the remedies.


Managing asthma requires a holistic approach that involves prescribed medication, identifying and avoiding triggers, and living a healthy lifestyle. However, just like there are activities, foods, and drinks that trigger or worsen asthma attacks, there are also substances and practices that you can take to lessen the symptoms of asthma. Many of these remedies work on mild asthma attacks or on specific triggers. Do not use them in place of medication, especially when you notice the symptoms are not subsiding.

Honey

Honey has been used for centuries as a remedy for colds and coughs. The honey is added to hot water mixed with other additives such as lemon, ginger, tea, and garlic. Coughing is one of the major symptoms of asthma attacks. Such concoctions with honey help to relieve the cough, especially for nocturnal asthma. It also helps to relieve the inflammation associated with asthma thereby accelerating the recovery process.

Studies are still ongoing on the use of honey as a conventional treatment for asthma. However, aerosolized honey has shown promising results in animal trials.

Cup of caffeinated Coffee

Initial theories that caffeine can relieve symptoms of asthma have a scientific background. Chemically, coffee is similar to theophylline, a bronchodilator used to treat asthma. This connection birthed the idea that coffee could also have a similar relieving effect. Initial studies confirmed the speculation that coffee is a mild bronchodilator, and its effect can last up to 4 hours.

A cup of coffee can therefore come in handy if you are experiencing mild symptoms of asthma. Caffeine relaxes muscles of the airways which contract during an asthma attack allowing you to breathe normally.

Ginger

Just like honey, ginger has a long history of being used as a home remedy for colds and coughs. In the case of asthma, ginger is believed to work like caffeine. When combined with other asthma medications, ginger helps to relax the constricted airway muscles. As a result, the respiratory tracts open, allowing the free flow of air into and out of the lungs.

Also, during an asthma attack, the contracted smooth muscles produce mucus which blocks the airways. By relaxing the muscles, ginger reduces the production of mucus in the respiratory system thus alleviating symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and laboured breathing.

Essential oils and turmeric supplements

Lavender and other essential oils have been popularly advertised as remedies for asthma. Same to turmeric supplements. An asthma attack is primarily an allergic reaction to an allergen or trigger substance. The selling point for these two categories of remedies is that they reduce the inflammation that results from the allergic reaction to allergens.

Some studies have shown that the essential oils and turmeric supplements work as claimed, especially in mild cases. However, the remedies didn’t have the desired results in some patients. For some, the essential oils and supplements acted as allergens and either caused or worsened the symptoms.

You should therefore talk to your doctor and be careful when using these remedies for asthma. Always have your regular medication nearby.

Garlic

Other than its flavour, garlic is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to ease allergic reactions. It is, therefore, no surprise that there are claims that garlic can help ease the symptoms of asthma. Many people have alleged to have used it successfully but there is no documented evidence.

And scientists are not ignoring the claims. Animal tests that have been carried out and mice that were given garlic during the study showed milder symptoms of asthma compared to those that were only exposed to the allergen without garlic. Garlic is therefore worth a try but with caution; it may not work if you experience intense symptoms.

It’s all about managing the symptoms and keeping them mild

These are just the most common remedies that patients use to relieve symptoms of asthma. Many other herbs, food items, and drinks have been tried too with the same aim: to relieve or reduce the severity of the symptoms. For cold-induced asthma attacks, even plain hot water sometimes helps to ease the symptoms.

Therefore, it is reasonable to try out home remedies but with caution. Always have your medication nearby. Also, remember that as an asthmatic, your body is sensitive to external substances. Use the herbs, essential oils, and related remedies carefully, and always inform your doctor that you are trying the remedies.

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