What is Asthma?Asthma is known to be an inflammatory condition associated with chronic inflammation of the airways. These airways often become very narrow due to the presence of such an inflammation. Although asthma can occur in any individual, irrespective of age or gender, it generally develops in individuals during their childhood. The symptoms of this condition often worsen at early morning or late night. It is important to note that medical science has not found a cure for this condition. Even if you do not experience the symptoms of this condition on a regular basis, you can still be suffering from it. You may experience a flare-up at any point of time. However, several natural treatments as well as medicinal drugs may help in reducing the intensity as well as frequency of asthmatic attacks.
Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma is a condition associated with the narrowing of the respiratory muscles and the accumulation of mucus in the respiratory tract. This may lead to constant coughing by the affected individual to clear the airways. It has been stated that in most cases, coughing worsens at night when lying on the bed as it causes the person to feel congested. The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh states that chest tightness is also a common symptom of this condition and is accompanied by frequent coughing. There are certain individuals suffering from asthma who experience persistent cough, whereas some may experience flare-ups on certain occasions only. When the person suffering from asthma experiences an asthmatic attack, it results in the inflammation of the airways. As a result of the inflammation of the airways, the affected individual may experience shortness of breath, which worsens due to strenuous activity. Difficulty in breathing is a dangerous symptom of asthma and requires immediate medical attention. Asthma is also known to deter the supply of oxygen to the brain. This may result in fatigue in the affected individuals. This causes the person to feel extremely tired and deters them from performing any physical activities such as sports or any other form of exercise.
Causes of Asthma
Mayoclinic.com states that the actual reason behind the occurrence of this condition is not known. However, it is presumed to occur as a result of genetic and environmental factors. Certain substances in the environment are considered responsible for triggering allergic asthma. Common allergens include pet hair, pollen, mold and dust. Prolonged exposure to these allergens is known to aggravate this condition repeatedly. Asthmatic bronchitis is known to develop as a result of first-hand or second-hand smoke. The National Lung Health Educational Program states that those who smoke are at a heightened risk of suffering from bronchial asthma. Emotional stress is also known to result in the occurrence of asthma. Allergic reactions to foods such as peanuts or shellfish are also known to be one of the major causes of asthmatic attacks.
Home Remedies for Asthma
The University of Maryland Medical Center states that boswellia may prove an effective remedy in the treatment of asthma. According to a research study published in 'Clinical Biochemistry', researchers noted that this herb was effective in reducing inflammatory mediators in those suffering from asthma, when used along with licorice root and turmeric. However, if you are taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, it is recommended that you avoid using this herb, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Before making use of this herb, it is recommended that you consult your doctor.
Spikenard is an herb that may prove beneficial in treating the symptoms associated with asthma. Health expert Dr.Sharol Tigner states that this herb is known to possess anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and expectorant properties. Consume this herb only under the supervision of your physician.
Licorice root is considered an effective herbal remedy for treating bronchial asthma. This herb has been used for centuries to add flavour to food, in addition to being an effective remedy for a host of health ailments. This herb has been used extensively to treat conditions such as canker sores, peptic ulcers, dyspepsia, eczema as well as asthma. Dr. Sharol Tigner states that this herb is known to play the role of an expectorant, antioxidant as well as demulcent. It is also known to possess antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. You should avoid making use of this herb if you suffer from kidney disease, liver disorders or high blood pressure. Before making use of this herb to treat asthma, it is recommended that you consult your physician regarding the correct dosage as well as possible side effects.
Yerba santa is considered an effective remedy for treating bronchial asthma. The leaves of this plant are used for medicinal purposes. Botanical.com states that this herb is helpful in the treatment of bronchial as well as laryngeal conditions, in addition to treating pulmonary infections. Dr. Sharol Tigner states that this herb plays the role of an expectorant, bronchial dilator and exhibits antimicrobial properties. This herb helps in thinning the mucus in the lungs and causes it to be eliminated from the body. This effect of this herb is known to attribute to its extensive use in treating respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, hay fever, colds and laryngitis. It is important that you consult your doctor regarding the safety of this herb in treating asthma, especially if you are taking other medications as well.
Ma Huang is an herb that is considered effective in the treatment of respiratory ailments such as asthma. The National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that this herb is an evergreen plant that is found mostly in Central Asia and Mongolia. They also state that this herb possesses an active ingredient by the name ephedrine, which plays the role of a stimulant for the heart and nervous system. The dried leaves as well as stem are used for medicinal purposes. Author of 'Natural Medicine from the Heart of the Earth', Dr.Sharol Tigner states that this herb possesses antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antitussive, decongestant as well as bronchodilator properties. This herb has been considered effective in opening up the airways, thereby promoting the free flow of air through the lungs. Use this herb under the supervision of your physician only.
Pineapple is known to possess a compound known as bromelain, which is known to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that may prove to be effective in the treatment of asthma. It is important to note that consuming pineapple, as a whole fruit will not meet your requirement of bromelain to treat asthma. You need to consume pineapple extract to treat the symptoms of this condition effectively. Dr. Eric Secor from the University of Connecticut Health Center states that this extract is effective in treating mild cases of asthma and should not be used as a sole remedy for treating this condition. However, it is important to note that in certain cases, consuming pineapple extract may trigger an allergic reaction that can lead to an asthmatic attack. Make use of this home remedy only after you get the approval of your physician.
Apples are known to possess some phytochemicals that are helpful in boosting the functioning of the lungs in those who suffer from asthma. A research study was conducted by S.M. Willers of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and was also published in the journal named 'Thorax' in September 2007. The research study showed that when four or more apples were consumed by expecting mothers, the children born were at a reduced risk of developing asthma by around 50 per cent compared to those whose mothers who consumed one to four apples each week. Therefore, it can be concluded that apples help in preventing as well as treating the symptoms of asthma.
Lemons and Oranges
Consuming fruits such as oranges and lemons may prove effective in reducing the frequency as well as intensity of asthma attacks as it contains high amounts of vitamin C. Research studies have proved the effectiveness of this vitamin in preventing the occurrences of asthmatic attacks. According to a research study conducted by the Regional Health Authority of Lazio, Rome, it was observed that children who regularly consumed fruits such as grapefruit, oranges, tangerine and kiwi fruit in good amounts each week experienced a decrease in the symptoms of asthma compared to those children who never consume these fruits on a regular basis. This vitamin is helpful in protecting the lungs from inflammation as well. This vitamin is present in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, although there are several other foods that also contain good amounts of this vitamin. They include papaya, raspberries, strawberries and guava.
Ginger is considered an effective home treatment for asthma. Ginger has been used extensively to add flavour to food as well as to treat health ailments. Medical research has shown the effectiveness of this herb in the treatment of digestive ailments, bronchitis, psoriasis as well as rheumatoid arthritis. According to a research study published in 'Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry', it was observed that ginger supplements might help in reducing the frequency of asthmatic attacks caused by phthalate ester. According to a research study published in 'Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology', ginger may be helpful in reducing inflammation of the bronchial passageways and promote free flow of air through the lungs. However, before consuming this herb, it is important that you check with your physician regarding the safety of this herb, especially if you suffer from conditions such as diabetes as it causes a decrease in the levels of blood sugar. If you are taking blood-thinning medications such as Coumadin, it is advisable that you avoid using this herb as it has a thinning effect on the blood too. You can consume ginger by chopping and adding it to your food or in the form of a tea. You can prepare ginger tea by steeping an inch piece of ginger in water for around 15 minutes.
Honey is considered an effective home remedy for treating the symptoms of asthma. Honey is effective in treating wheezing and cough that occur along with asthma. ABC News states that honey is helpful in soothing the mucous membranes in the air passages. The ABC News also states that according to a research study conducted by the Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, children suffering from night cough experienced relief after consuming honey. When it comes to treating asthmatic symptoms using honey, it is important that you make use of the right kind of honey. ABC News states that using dark honey is best when it comes to treating cough, as it is rich in antioxidants as compared to light-coloured honey. Honey should only be used in cases when the affected individual is older than 2 years of age. However, it is important to note that you should only use honey as an additional treatment for asthma and not as a sole treatment for this condition.
Other Home Remedies for Asthma
- Add 25 ml of fresh honey to 40 ml of basil leaves juice and consume it to experience relief from the symptoms of asthma.
- Eat three to four figs in the morning on an empty stomach to experience relief from asthma.
- Add ½ to 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder to a cup of warm milk and consume it to treat asthmatic symptoms.
- Another effective remedy for asthma is lime juice, when consumed along with a few drops of ginger juice.
- Add around 8-10 flakes of garlic to a glass of milk and boil it. After it comes to a boil, strain it and wait for it to cool. Consume it each day before you sleep and as you wake up in the morning. This remedy is considered extremely effective in treating asthma.
- Add two teaspoons of fenugreek seeds to a glass of water and boil it until it is half the initial quantity. Strain the decoction and drink it early morning to experience relief from asthma.
- Add some black salt to holy basil leaves and eat them. This remedy is used extensively to treat asthma.
- Applying a paste containing mustard oil and rock salt to the chest is considered beneficial in treating asthma.
Diet for Asthma
Consume Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are known to be rich sources of vitamins, minerals as well as phytochemicals. Many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin A, C and E, which are antioxidants that may prove beneficial in the prevention as well as treatment of asthmatic symptoms. Fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C help in reducing the inflammation of the respiratory tract. Fruits and vegetables that contain high amounts of antioxidant vitamins include mangoes, citrus fruits, apricots, carrots, green leafy vegetables and asparagus.
Foods with Omega3 Fatty Acids
According to a research study initiated by the Harvard School of Public Health in the year 2007, it was observed that regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids help in reducing the symptoms of asthma. Foods that contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids include flax seed, herring, salmon and tuna.
Avoid Dairy Products
Naturalnews.com states that milk and other dairy products are common triggers of asthmatic attacks. Milk protein is considered one of the most common triggers of allergic asthma. Milk as well as other dairy products are known to stimulate the production of mucus in the lungs, thereby worsening the symptoms of this condition or triggering an asthmatic attack. Those who suffer from an allergic reaction to dairy products may experience flare-ups of asthma immediately after ingesting milk protein due to the excess production of mucus inside the lungs. The best way to treat this condition is to avoid consuming these foods in your diet.
Avoid processed foods
Foods containing additives, colorants and preservatives are also known to trigger asthmatic attacks. There are certain individuals who may react to certain chemicals, while some are allergic to all these chemicals. If you suffer from an asthmatic attack after consuming a processed food product, it is important that you check what chemicals were used in the preparation of the product. Common chemicals that trigger asthmatic attacks include tartrazine(E102), which is found in many baked goods such as pastries, soft drinks, cakes etc. Monosodium Glutamate, also known as MSG, is considered responsible for asthmatic attacks. MSG (E261) is found mostly in Chinese foods and snacks like potato wafers. Sulphites and sulphur dioxide are also known to be common chemicals that trigger asthmatic attacks and are found in several canned food products.
Asthma can easily be prevented by recognizing the causes and moving towards a plan to prevent the symptoms from recurring. Consult your doctor and prepare a plan containing the dosage and frequency of medications. It is important that you follow the plan to the best of your ability, as this condition requires constant monitoring as well as treatment. It is also important that you stay updated with immunizations to prevent flu and pneumonia, as they are responsible for asthmatic flare-ups. When it comes to preventing asthmatic flare-ups, it is crucial to identify common triggers and to avoid coming in contact with them. Common triggers include pollen, cold air and air pollution. If you constantly require to use albuterol, which is a quick-relief inhaler, it is advisable that you consult your doctor as this indicates that this condition is not under control and requires immediate medical treatment.
Other Treatment Options for Asthma
Vitamins for Asthma
Vitamin C is known to be a water-soluble vitamin that possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. According to a research study published in 'Paediatric Allergy Immunology' in February 2010, it was observed that vitamin C helped in preventing the symptoms of wheezing in pre-school children who were suffering from asthma. Some foods that contain high amounts of vitamin C include strawberries, citrus fruits and potatoes. You can also consume this vitamin in the form of a supplement. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends a daily dosage of 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. Vitamin D is also considered helpful in the treatment of asthma. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be derived from foods or exposure to the sun. According to a research study conducted by M. Sandhu and published in 'Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology', it has been observed that vitamin D may prove helpful in controlling the symptoms of asthma as it helps in decreasing pulmonary inflammation by inhibiting cytokines and boosting the secretion of interleukin. Foods that contain high amounts of vitamin D include fatty fish, dairy products as well as fortified cereals. Consult your physician before consuming high amounts of this vitamin as it can result in hypercalcemia. Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that is also considered effective in the treatment of asthma. This vitamin is known to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that help in preventing the body from damage caused by harmful free radicals. According to a research study published in the journal 'Thorax', increased consumption of vitamin E was linked with low number of cases of asthma. However, the research study did not indicate the effectiveness of this vitamin in terms of asthma treatment. According to a study published in 'American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine', vitamin E, when consumed along with vitamin C helped in preventing the damage to the airways by free radicals. Several foods contain high amounts of this vitamin and they include nuts, olives, fortified cereals and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin B12 is another vitamin that may prove effective in the treatment of asthma. The University of Maryland Medical Center indicates that vitamin B12 injections may prove effective in the treatment of chronic asthma. However, it is important that you use vitamin B12 injections only under the supervision of your physician.
Inhaled corticosteroids are mostly composed of fluticasone, budesonide, mometasone, ciclesonide, flunisolide, beclomethasone as well as other ingredients. However, it is important to note that you may need to use these medications for at least 7 days before you can see improvements in the symptoms of this condition. They are known to be less effective in treating asthma compared to oral corticosteroids, however, they do not trigger any side-effects. They are considered safe for long-term usage.
These oral medications are considered helpful in relieving the symptoms of asthma for 24 hours. Although rare, these medications may trigger aggression, agitation, depression and hallucinations. Consult your doctor before making use of this medication.