Asthma sufferers know all too well the feeling of panic when their airways constrict and breathing becomes difficult. Studies have found that alternative therapies, while not a replacement for conventional medications, can help prevent and lessen the number of acute asthma attacks in many patients.
In the practice of yoga, breathing is extremely important. Certain poses also help to open your airways and relax your lungs. Studies show that practicing yoga reduces the frequency and severity of acute attacks and reduces the amount of medication needed.
Talk to your doctor before taking any herbal medicine, as it may interfere with other medications. Herbal remedies often have fewer side effects than pharmaceutical drugs, but are still potent drugs. Herbs that have been shown to be effective in treating asthma include:
- Ma Huang - Don't let a bad reputation scare you away from this helpful herb. Taken as directed by your physician, this herb (also called ephedra) is a potent bronchodilator that is extremely effective in opening the airways.
- Coleus forskohlii - Contains a bronchodilator called forskolin. Must not be taken with blood pressure or anticoagulant medications.
- Lobelia - Is powerful, but potentially toxic, so it must only be used in small doses supervised by a physician or an herbalist experienced with this herb. Do not take lobelia if you have high blood pressure or heart disease.
- Reishi mushroom - A potent immunity builder and anti-inflammatory, it is used in Chinese medicine to strengthen the lungs. Can be used in food or taken as a tincture.
While diet cannot cure asthma, eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong foods may help you manage the disease.
- Fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, and vitamins C and E may help keep lung inflammation under control.
- People with severe asthma have been shown to have lower levels of Vitamin D, so eat foods high in this vitamin or spend time outside in the sun every day.
- Sulfites can trigger asthma in some people. They are found in shrimp, wine, pickles and dried fruits.
- Allergy-triggering foods do not usually cause asthma attacks, but can cause wheezing.
Studies have shown that yoga, herbs and diet may play an important role in controlling the severity and frequency of asthma attacks. While alternative therapies are excellent aids to your conventional treatments, always talk to your doctor before adding anything new to your regimen. For more information about asthma relief, visit Allergy Asthma & Immunology Associates.