25 Home Remedies for Asthma

by Editors of Consumer Guide

Natural Home Remedies for Asthma

Although there are many medical ways to help asthma sufferers breathe easier, experts recommend combining certain natural home remedies with prescription anti-inflammatories and bronchodilators. Here are some helpful remedies right from the kitchen.

Home Remedies From the Cupboard

Coffee. The caffeine in regular coffee can help prevent and control asthma attacks. Researchers have found that regular coffee drinkers have one-third fewer asthma symptoms than those who don't drink the hot stuff. The reason? Caffeine has bronchodilating effects. In fact, caffeine was one of the main anti-asthmatic drugs during the nineteenth century. Don't load up on java, though -- three cups a day will provide the maximum benefit -- and don't give coffee to children with asthma.

Onions. Onions are loaded with anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that these properties can reduce the constriction of the airways in an asthma attack. Raw onions are generally too irritating, but eating cooked onions may help to lessen asthma attacks.

Home Remedies From the Drawer

Cheesecloth. Put a fine cheesecloth over each room's heat outlet. This homemade dust filter can help by catching dust, animal dander, and pollen before it's recirculated into the air. Stick-on commercial filters are also available. And don't forget the number one most effective home aid -- scrupulous cleaning. It's not easy, but being a bit obsessive about keeping a clean house goes a long way toward helping to alleviate asthma symptoms.

Home Remedies From the Refrigerator

Chili peppers. Hot foods such as chili peppers open up airways. Experts believe this happens because peppers stimulate fluids in the mouth, throat, and lungs. The increase in fluids thins out the mucus formed during an asthma attack so it can be coughed up, making breathing easier. Capsaicin, the stuff that makes hot peppers hot, acts as an anti-inflammatory when eaten.

Eating hot foods like chile peppers may help you breathe easier.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Eating hot foods like chili peppers may help you breathe easier.

Orange juice. Vitamin C is the main antioxidant in the lining of the bronchi and bronchioles. Research discovered that people with asthma had low levels of vitamin C; eating foods that had at least 300 mg of vitamin C a day -- equivalent to about three glasses of orange juice -- cut wheezing by 30 percent. Other foods high in vitamin C include red bell pepper, papaya, broccoli, blueberries, and strawberries.

Salmon. Fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids seem to help the lungs react better to irritants in people who have asthma and may even help prevent asthma in people who have never had an attack. Studies have found that kids who eat fish more than once a week have one-third the risk of getting asthma, as compared to children who don't eat fish. And researchers discovered that people who took fish oil supplements, equivalent to eating 8 ounces of mackerel a day, increased their body's ability to avoid a severe asthma attack by 50 percent.

Yogurt. Vitamin B12 can alleviate the symptoms of asthma, and it seems to be even more effective in asthma sufferers who are sensitive to sulfite. Studies have found that taking 1 to 4 micrograms (mcg) works best as protection against asthma attacks. The current RDA for vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg for adults. One cup of yogurt has 1.4 mcg of the lung-loving vitamin.

Home Remedies From the Spice Rack

Peppermint extract. This is a folk remedy for a homemade vaporizer: Put 1 quart nonchlorinated water in a stainless steel, glass, or enamel pan, and put it on the stove. Add 10 drops peppermint extract or peppermint oil, and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 1 hour, until all the water is gone. The volatile oil will saturate the room air.

Home Remedies Do's and Don'ts

Don't overload your salt intake. Salt tends to make the airways more sensitive to triggers.

Do consider a high-quality vegan diet. Getting rid of animal products in the diet helps asthma by eliminating many food allergens (cow's milk, for example). Remember, though, that vegan diets can be deficient in protein and B12, which can be especially risky for kids and pregnant or lactating women. You might consider seeking the help of a nutritionist or dietician to help you plan a vegan diet.

For more information about asthma and the allergies that can trigger an attack, try the following links:
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Timothy Gower is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in many publications, including Reader's Digest, Prevention, Men's Health, Better Homes and Gardens, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. The author of four books, Gower is also a contributing editor for Health magazine.

Alice Lesch Kelly is a health writer based in Boston. Her work has been published in magazines such as Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Woman's Day, Reader's Digest, Eating Well, and Health. She is the co-author of three books on women's health.

Linnea Lundgren has more than 12 years experience researching, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines. She is the author of four books, including Living Well With Allergies.

Michele Price Mann is a freelance writer who has written for such publications as Weight Watchers and Southern Living magazines. Formerly assistant health and fitness editor at Cooking Light magazine, her professional passion is learning and writing about health.

ABOUT THE CONSULTANTS:

Ivan Oransky, M.D., is the deputy editor of The Scientist. He is author or co-author of four books, including The Common Symptom Answer Guide, and has written for publications including the Boston Globe, The Lancet, and USA Today. He holds appointments as a clinical assistant professor of medicine and as adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.


This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

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