There are many natural asthma remedies touted to relieve asthma symptoms. However, because there have been limited research studies on complementary and alternative treatments for asthma, the effectiveness and safety of many are unknown.
Here are some examples of natural remedies that have been suggested:
Herbs and natural dietary supplements. Many different herbs, plants, and supplements have been used with asthma. Since none have been definitively shown to help asthma symptoms, they are generally not recommended. Other studies have looked at using omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin C, and vitamin E for asthma symptoms. Again, there is not enough evidence to recommend these natural therapies.
Asthma Diet. If you have a food allergy, avoiding foods that trigger an allergy attack may also help with some asthma symptoms.
Acupuncture. While some people with asthma have found that acupuncture can help reduce asthma attacks and improve breathing, studies are not conclusive.
Biofeedback. Learning to control heart rate may be helpful with asthma management but more studies are needed to confirm a benefit.
Is It Safe to Use Natural Asthma Remedies?
Most people think of herbs as being natural and therefore safe to take for asthma. However, many herbs have not been thoroughly tested, and, as mentioned, the FDA does not regulate them the same way as medications.
Some herbs touted to treat asthma have been found to interact with other drugs. For example, ginkgo biloba, used by some to help decrease inflammation in the lungs, can cause bleeding problems in people also taking the blood thinner Coumadin. Licorice root, thought to soothe the lungs of people with asthma, can increase blood pressure. Ephedra had been used as a bronchodilator but is not recommended because it has been linked to serious side effects including death.
It is very important that you talk to your doctor before taking any herbs, dietary supplements, or other so-called natural remedies. Some herbs may worsen your asthma or other medical condition, or they may interfere with prescribed asthma medicines you are taking.
How Do I Know If Natural Asthma Remedies Are Safe?
Because most natural asthma remedies are not regulated, it is difficult to know what you are getting. Here are some tips to follow when considering using a natural asthma remedy:
Talk to your doctor about any natural asthma remedy you are considering before trying it. Any drug or dietary supplement may interact with other medications you may be taking or worsen an existing medical condition.
If you experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, insomnia, diarrhea, or skin rashes, stop taking the herbal product and notify your doctor right away.
Beware of commercial claims of what herbal products can do. Look for scientific-based sources of information.
Select brands carefully. Only purchase brands that list the herb's common and scientific name as well as all other ingredients, the name and address of the manufacturer, a batch and lot number, expiration date, dosage guidelines, and potential side effects.