Asthma's Natural Remedies
Imagine not being able to breath – that is the feeling asthmatics feel every day. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute defines asthma as a “chronic, long-term, condition that intermittently inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs” . As a result, when a person has an asthma attack, they may experience “periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing,” and when these symptoms get worse, which can be sudden, it is called an asthma attack .
According to the Global Initiative for Asthma, asthma affects an estimated 300 million people worldwide , and one study claimed: “the prevalence of asthma increases globally by 50% every decade” .
Not only have asthma cases been increasing, so have asthma-related deaths which have reached the rate of 180,000 annually according to the World Health Organization , and in the United States alone, cases of death from asthma have doubled since the 1980s and have reached 5,000 a year .
Researchers have not been able to identify a single cause of asthma, but instead, symptoms can be worsened, and asthma attacks can be triggered by viral infections, allergens, tobacco smoke, exercise, and stress.
Who is at Risk of Contracting Asthma?
Even though researchers have not been able to discover a single cause of asthma, researchers have found associations between medical conditions and asthma.
During a 2016 study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found that there is a link between asthma and obesity , and that was not the only study to come to that conclusion. Another study found obesity to be “independently associated with asthma, and atopic and nonatopic asthma” . Further, researchers from Duke Children’s Hospital in North Carolina found individuals with body mass index (BMI) scores in the obese range to be 12% more likely to have more severe asthma than those who have healthier BMI scores . So, with these studies, it seems there is at least a correlation between one’s body size and their chance of contracting asthma.
Additionally, one study examining vitamin D levels in asthmatic individuals versus a control group found vitamin D levels were significantly less in the asthma group. Therefore, it could be possible that being deficient in vitamin D could lead to an increased chance of asthma . There will be more on vitamin D and how it related to asthma treatment later in this article.
Are There Ways to Decrease the Risk of Contracting Asthma?
Intriguingly, that are studies which have found associations between specific actions and increased or decreased risks of asthma.
Researchers from the University of Manitoba in Canada found there is a negative correlation between delaying the childhood diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT) vaccine and one’s risk of contracting asthma. The researchers found postponing the administration of the first three doses of the DPT vaccine cuts the risk of asthma by 60% .
One study entitled “Role of breast feeding in primary prevention of asthma and allergic diseases in a traditional society” investigated the association between infants and children who were breastfed and cases of asthma. The researchers discovered asthma was less frequent in exclusively breastfed children versus children who were partially breastfed or given formula, and the risk even seemed to be less in children who were breastfed for longer than six months .
Further, a meta-analysis study furthering the examination between a child’s asthma risk and breastfeeding found “Exclusive breast-feeding during the first months after birth is associated with lower asthma rates during childhood,” specifically a reduced risk of 30% was found . The researchers noted this was the case because of the immunomodulatory qualities of breast milk .
To summarize, there is a positive correlation of an obese BMI and a negative correlation with delaying the DPT vaccine and exclusively breastfeeding with a child’s chance of contracting asthma   .
Though the conventional treatment of asthma seems to be an inhaler with a type of steroid, there are natural remedies for asthma with research backing. I believe it is an excellent choice to consider dietary changes or a natural treatment before choosing the conventional medicine route because of the adverse side effects of inhaler medications  ; however, discuss these options with your doctor before starting them. If your doctor is unwilling to help, you may want to consider finding a doctor who is willing to work with natural remedies before going the medical route. This section will review scientific studies which investigate the effectiveness of natural remedies for asthma treatment.
I have found several studies which conclude simple breathing exercises have helped people with asthma. One study found that “adult patients with asthma who were taught breathing exercises showed improvements in quality of life, symptoms and psychological well-being after six months” .
You may ask, “What type of exercises could this be?” Well, the Buteyko technique has shown promising results; in a randomized and controlled study testing the effectiveness of the Buteyko technique, researchers found Buteyko exercises increased asthma control from 40% to 79%, and those who used the method seemed to use their inhalers less than those who did not use the technique .
Further, two studies have shown yoga practices such as yoga breathing and various stretching postures seemed to “increase respiratory stamina, relax the chest muscles, expand the lungs, raise energy levels, and calm the body . After two months, the yoga group exhibited statistically significant improvement in their lung function , and the second study also claimed similar points stating “Yoga techniques seem beneficial as an adjunct to the medical management of asthma” .
I have already examined the benefits of turmeric. To read that article, click here.
Turmeric has a robust link to reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the airways. Many studies and a growing amount of data supporting that turmeric can play a vital role in “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lung injury, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and allergic asthma" . This association exists because of turmeric’s strong anti-inflammatory properties  .
One study from 2008 testing the relationship between curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric (these two terms can pretty much be used interchangeably), and allergic responses in animals showed curcumin was majorly effective in inhibiting allergic reactions in animals .
Another study from 2014 using human subjects found curcumin capsules extremely helpful in improving airway obstruction, and the researchers also noted there were no “clinically significant adverse effects,” meaning there were no notable negative side-effects of the treatment . The researchers concluded, “curcumin is effective and safe as an add-on therapy for the treatment of bronchial asthma” .
Healthmasters’ Turmeric Force is an excellent turmeric supplement.
Like turmeric, I have written an article examining the benefits of magnesium. To read that article, click here.
During a 2000 study, researchers tested the viability and effectiveness of using intravenous magnesium as an asthma treatment. The researchers concluded children who received the magnesium sulfate treatment “for moderate to severe asthma showed remarkable improvement in short-term pulmonary function,” and the positive effects of the magnesium treatment were significantly measurable 20 minutes after the treatment started .
For oral supplementation, in a 2010, randomized, controlled study, researchers determined long-term (6.5 months), oral supplementation of magnesium proved beneficial “in subjective measures of asthma control and quality of life” .
Further, a 2007 study entitled “Oral magnesium supplementation in asthmatic children: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial” found 300mg/day of oral magnesium supplementation significantly improved bronchial reactivity after only two months . The magnesium group in the study needed less of their salbutamol medication and had fewer instances of worsening asthma .
As noted above, there is a chance that being deficient in vitamin D could lead to an increased chance of asthma because low vitamin D levels have been examined in children with asthma .
A 2016 study noted that vitamin D might improve lung function and one’s response to steroid medication regarding asthma and COPD .
During a double-blind, randomized, comparative 2015 study of 140 patients, researchers found after six months of 1000mg/day supplementation, individuals who were supplementing with D3 had a sharp improvement in the quality of life compared to individuals who received the standard treatment for asthma .
Healthmasters’ Ultimate D3-10,000 with K2 is an excellent vitamin D3 supplement.
Studies have shown there are specific changes one can make in their diet which can improve an asthmatic’s quality of life.
For example, a 2010 study found certain people have a mucus reaction to milk consumption, and if those individuals eliminate milk from their diets, their asthma symptoms could improve .
Further, in a 2014 study entitled “Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of wheezing and asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” researchers investigated the association between fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk of wheezing and asthma. The researchers found that a “high intake of fruit and vegetables may reduce the risk of asthma and wheezing in adults and children” . The researchers stated eating more fruits and vegetables could reduce the risk of asthma in children and adults by 46% .
Numerous studies have found an association between antioxidant-rich diets and reduced asthma prevalence; however, information providing direct evidence that altering one’s intake of antioxidant-rich foods affects asthma in unclear, so researchers set out to investigate this association in a 2008 study entitled “Lycopene-rich treatments modify noneosinophilic airway inflammation in asthma: proof of concept” . The researchers had asthmatic subjects eat a low antioxidant diet for ten days, and their asthma worsened. After that period, the individuals were either given a placebo, tomato extract, or tomato juice. With the tomato juice and tomato extract supplementation, the individuals were receiving 45mg of lycopene, a carotenoid which gives tomatoes their color, a day . The researchers found those on the tomato supplementation has reduced signs of asthma, and consequently, the researchers called for further research regarding lycopene supplementation for asthma therapy.
Like lycopene, research supports sulforaphane, a sulfur-rich compound in vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, and cabbage, may help people with asthma because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may affect pulmonary bronchoconstrictor responses in asthmatic patients .
Because fish oil plays a role in relieving inflammation, fish oil may help people with asthma because inflammation plays a significant role in asthma symptoms.
In a 2002 study investigating the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and inflammation and autoimmune diseases, researchers found fish oils offer a significant benefit to those with chronic inflammatory diseases .
In another study, researchers set out to compare fish oil supplementation and montelukast medication (asthma medication with the brand name Singulair used to treat wheezing and shortness of breath). The study showed there was no significant difference between the two treatments . Interestingly, while examining the results of the study, fish oil was just slightly more efficacious .
Pycnogenol® is a standardized extract of French maritime pine bark with anti-inflammatory properties. In a 2011 study, Italian researchers compared Pycnogenol’s effectiveness for treating asthma to the use of corticosteroid inhalers. At the end of the study, the researchers had several captivating conclusions. First, after six months, 55% percent of the Pycnogenol group were able to reduce their inhaler use to only 6% of that of the inhaler group . Second, none of the Pycnogenol group has worsening symptoms, but 18.8% of the inhaler group’s conditions worsened . Third, the researchers concluded, “Pycnogenol® administration was effective for better control of signs and symptoms of allergic asthma and reduced the need for medication” .
In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study conducted in 2004, researchers investigated Pycnogenol® treatment and its effectiveness in children who have mild-to-moderate asthma. After three months, the Pycnogenol group had improved lung function and were able to discontinue the use of their inhalers more often than the placebo group .
Healthmasters also sells a Pycnogenol® supplement.
Research has shown that children with severe bronchial asthma have a metabolic block in tryptophan metabolism. A study showed children who supplemented for five months with 200mg/day of vitamin B6 experienced a significant improvement in asthma symptoms and were able to reduce the dosage of bronchodilators and cortisone because the B6 supplementation helped alleviate the metabolic block .
Healthmasters’ Corticare B5 B6 is a great, high-quality B6 supplement and includes vitamins B5 and B9.
My goal in this article was to give you an insightful view of asthma and inform you of natural remedies, which according to science, show promise.
If you have any questions about any of the products mentioned in this article, please feel free to call our office at 800.736.1834.