Natural Ways to Help With Asthma Symptoms | Wellness Mama
I typically rely on allergy relief remedies when seasonal allergies creep up, but some of the things that can trigger allergies can also trigger asthma. If you or your child suffer from asthma (which is a growing problem!), you’ll be happy to know that there are lots of natural remedies for asthma that are surprisingly easy to use.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition where airways narrow, swell, and become inflamed. This can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and excess mucus production. The severity of asthma varies from person to person. For some, it’s a nuisance and for others, it can be much more serious.
Unfortunately, asthma typically begins in childhood (but can happen at any age).
Symptoms of Asthma
There are some obvious symptoms of asthma:
Important note: Not all people who have asthma have any symptoms. Also, you can have these symptoms without having asthma. To diagnose asthma, your doctor may want to give you a lung function test along with using other diagnostic tools. As always, checking with a doctor is the best approach.
Severity of an Asthma Attack
Mild asthma is fairly common and usually can be addressed with natural remedies. It’s good to know the symptoms of each stage though, so you know when to seek a doctor’s care. (It’s always good to check in with your doctor even if you think you have only mild to moderate symptoms.)
If you or someone you know is having an asthma attack that resembles severe or respiratory failure, call 911 right away.
What Causes Asthma?
Experts still don’t know for sure what causes asthma. However, they believe it is a combination of environmental irritants and genetic predisposition. Some possible causes are:
Additionally, there are some risk factors that make certain people more likely to get asthma. Risk factors for asthma include:
One interesting theory that researchers have for what causes asthma is the “hygiene hypothesis.” Basically, this hypothesis says that in the Western world we worry a lot about cleanliness and sanitation. Because of this, children aren’t exposed to germs and have fewer illnesses. Because of the reduction in exposure to these illnesses and germs, kids’ immune systems don’t grow as robust as they could. This is why I stopped using antibacterial cleaners at home.)
Natural Asthma Remedies
Typically, doctors treat asthma symptoms with steroid inhalers and bronchodilators. Steroid inhalers help quickly reduce inflammation to open the airway. But they have some side effects (just listen to a commercial for asthma medicine!).
Asthma medication certainly may be life-saving and important (always check with your doctor), but how can you support your health in other ways? Natural remedies for asthma can help with mild to moderate asthma symptoms.
Most of all, treating symptoms when they first appear is important for avoiding more serious or severe symptoms.
Intense exercise may make asthma symptoms worse but moderate or mild exercise can help strengthen the lungs and reduce inflammation. A 2005 review found that lack of physical activity may be one cause of asthma and that physical activity should be a prescription for all asthmatics.
Reduce Environmental Irritants
Since environmental irritants can cause or exacerbate asthma, reducing them makes sense as a preventative measure.
Everything you can do to reduce dust or other allergens in your home is a great first step!
Deal With Stress
Stress is more of a health risk than many of us realize. In fact, high levels of stress can completely undo all of the other healthy things you may be doing (like eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly). Research published in 2014 shows that asthma has a psychological trigger. It also explains that breathing exercises can reduce asthma symptoms for many patients.
Additionally, a review in the Journal of Asthma found that meditation may be beneficial to asthma sufferers (but higher quality studies are needed).
Try Himalayan Salt Therapy
Some asthma sufferers swear by salt therapy for their symptoms. Salt caves or Himalayan salt inhalers are two ways of experiencing salt therapy. There’s not much information about salt therapy for asthma. However, one study published in Pneumologia does say it could be beneficial (though researchers couldn’t rule out placebo effect). Salt therapy seems to be safe, so it may be worth a try.
Use Essential Oils
My favorite ways to use essential oils is to diffuse them or use them topically. If used topically, dilute in a carrier oil and use to massage on the skin (the chest is a good place to start). Always be sure to use a quality brand.
Herbal medicine is another way to treat asthma symptoms without the side effects of steroids. A Chinese medicine herbal formula called ASHMI has been found in clinical trials to be only slightly less effective than prednisone for treating asthma. This herbal blend includes reishi, Chinese liquorice, and shrubby sophora. (Check with a doctor before to avoid interactions any medications.)
Change Your Diet
Diet is one of the most important things we can focus on to optimizing health. A high nutrient diet rich in antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds can help avoid the inflammatory response that asthma can create. Other nutrients to include in the diet are the following:
Using a Natural Remedy Arsenal for Asthma
Asthma symptoms are a nuisance at best and dangerous at worse. Luckily there are some natural remedies for asthma that can help you prevent the onset of asthma symptoms for you or your child, and make daily life more enjoyable.
Do you or a family member suffer from asthma? What remedies work best for you?