Most asthma sufferers are familiar with the inhalers and oral remedies prescribed by their doctors for the treatment of wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath that accompany an asthmatic episode. While these medicines are typically effective in the treatment of the condition, there are people who may prefer a more natural approach to asthma relief, for a variety of reasons. Some people want more natural remedies.
Any drug introduced to the body has the potential for unpleasant side effects; short term reactions such as nausea and long term concerns such as potential permanent damage from steroids used to decrease inflammation in the lung tissues. There has been ongoing controversy in the medical community regarding the safety and advisability of steroid use. While these can be life-saving, there is concern that the steroids may cause irreversible damage such as muscle weakness and bone loss. To minimize the frequency of use, the asthma sufferer can make some dietary and lifestyle changes to help reduce the likelihood of an asthma attack.
The best “natural” defense against an asthmatic episode is to avoid known triggers. People with sensitivity to tobacco smoke should obviously stay away from it; and if your trigger is cat dander, you’ll just have to avoid petting the kittens in the pet store – no matter how adorable. Stay indoors on “high pollen” days if that is your trigger and always try to keep stress levels down. Using common sense is the first step toward lowering frequency of asthmatic episodes.
Asthma sufferers can also make healthy changes to their diets which can minimize asthma symptoms. Beyond avoiding known dietary triggers such as food allergies, nutritional supplements in the form of necessary vitamins and minerals can go a long way toward minimizing asthma attacks. Nutritional deficiencies make for a weakened system that isn’t able to effectively fight unexpected environmental triggers. Asthmatics need to exercise care even when using natural supplements. Make sure supplements are hypo-allergenic so as not to react to those! The need for certain vitamins and minerals may be greater among asthma sufferers than the average person as the condition itself tends to contribute to certain deficiencies. A good multi-vitamin is recommended to compensate for these deficiencies and make for a healthier body, better equipped to ward off reactions. Asthmatics also tend to have very low magnesium levels – a mineral that helps relax bronchial tubes – so a supplemental dose may be advisable. Finally, Vitamin C is believed to improve bronchial functioning.
More and more people are turning to herbal remedies to find relief from asthma symptoms. While most herbal supplements are not evaluated or endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration, there have been reports of success among those who have used them. Tylophora indica, used in Auyervedic medicine in India, has been getting a lot of positive attention thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects. Additionally, some individuals treated with the herb, Boswellia, reported a reduced number of asthma attacks. Butterbur is another promising herb shown to be as effective as traditional antihistamines in initial studies. As conclusive studies have not been done on most herbal remedies, the asthma sufferer is advised to be cautious when experimenting with these.
While it is possible to relieve symptoms of asthma, and reduce the likelihood of an asthma attack by avoiding known triggers, making lifestyle and dietary changes, and using certain herbal remedies, it is imperative to listen to your healthcare provider. Discuss vitamin and herbal supplements with your physician, and keep him informed of any changes you make and improvements you notice in your condition. The journey to a healthier life begins with a healthy amount of care and old-fashioned common sense.