If you have severe asthma and your regular medications don’t seem to be providing the relief you need, you may be curious whether there’s anything else you can do to cope with your symptoms.
Some natural remedies may be able to ease your symptoms, reduce the amount of medication you need to take, and generally improve the quality of your life. These remedies work best when taken alongside your usual prescribed asthma medications.
With all the studies on alternative medicine and natural remedies, you may wonder if there’s a natural cure for asthma. Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma at this point. In fact, you should avoid any treatment or product — natural or otherwise — that claims to be a “cure” for asthma.
Some natural therapies may help you manage symptoms of asthma. For instance, a negative response to emotional stress can cause an asthma attack. Some natural relaxation remedies like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and biofeedback can help relieve stress.
Other findings suggest that diet plays a role in easing asthma symptoms. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found naturally in high-fat fish like salmon, mackerel, and cod may help your body fight inflammation. Whether this may help people who have asthma is still unproven.
Asthma is characterized by inflammation of the bronchial tubes with increased production of sticky secretions inside the tubes. People with asthma experience symptoms when the airways tighten, inflame, or fill with mucus. Common asthma symptoms include:
- Coughing, especially at night
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness, pain, or pressure
Still, not every person with asthma has the same symptoms in the same way. You may not have all of these symptoms, or you may have different symptoms at different times. Your asthma symptoms may also vary from one asthma attack to the next, being mild during one and severe during another.
Some people with asthma may go for extended periods without having any symptoms, interrupted by periodic worsening of their symptoms called asthma attacks. Others might have asthma symptoms every day. In addition, some people may only have asthma during exercise, or asthma with viral infections like colds.
Mild asthma attacks are generally more common. Usually, the airways open up within a few minutes to a few hours. Severe attacks are less common but last longer and require immediate medical help. It is important to recognize and treat even mild asthma symptoms to help you prevent severe episodes and keep asthma under better control.
Yoga incorporates stretching and breathing exercises to help boost flexibility and increase your overall fitness. For many people, practicing yoga can decrease stress, which may trigger your asthma.
The breathing techniques utilized in yoga may also help to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks. However, there isn’t currently any conclusive evidence to prove this.
SpeleotherapySpeleotherapy involves spending time in a salt room to introduce tiny particles of salt into the respiratory system. There is currently no scientific evidence to prove that speleotherapy is an effective form of treatment against asthma, but one study did show that it had a beneficial effect on short-term lung function.
AcupunctureAcupuncture is a form of ancient Chinese medicine that involves placing small needles into specific points on the body. Long-term benefits of acupuncture have not yet been proven to be effective against asthma. But some people with asthma do find that acupuncture helps to improve airflow and manage symptoms like chest pain.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that focuses on how the mind and the body are feeling in the present moment. It can be practiced almost anywhere. All that you need is a quiet place to sit down, close your eyes, and focus your attention on the thoughts, feelings, and sensations in your body.
Because of its stress-relieving benefits, mindfulness can help to complement your prescription medication and relieve stress-related asthma symptoms.
HypnotherapyIn hypnotherapy, hypnosis is used to make a person more relaxed and open to new ways to think, feel, and behave. Hypnotherapy may help facilitate muscle relaxation, which may help people with asthma cope with symptoms like chest tightness.
Caffeine is a bronchodilator and can reduce respiratory muscle fatigue. A 2010 study showed that caffeine can be effective for people with asthma. It may be able to improve the function of airways for up to four hours after consumption.
Omega-3 oils, which can be found in fish and flax seeds, have been shown to have many health benefits. They may also work to decrease airway inflammation and improve lung function in people with severe asthma.
High doses of oral steroids, though, can block the beneficial effects of omega-3 oils. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor before upping your intake of omega-3.
Honey is frequently used in cold remedies to help soothe the throat and reduce coughing. You can mix honey with a hot beverage like herbal tea to provide relief for your symptoms.
Still, there’s limited scientific evidence that honey should be used as an alternative asthma treatment.
GingerGinger is another herb that contains anti-inflammatory properties and may help with severe asthma. A 2013 study showed that oral ginger supplements were linked to an improvement in asthma symptoms. But it didn’t confirm that ginger leads to an improvement in overall lung function.
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Garlic has several health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, according to a 2013 study. Because asthma is an inflammatory disease, garlic may be able to help relieve your symptoms.
Still, there’s no conclusive evidence that garlic is effective against preventing asthma flare-ups.
The Papworth method is a breathing and relaxation technique that has been used since the 1960s to help people with asthma. It involves using your nose and diaphragm to develop breathing patterns. You can then apply these breathing patterns to various activities that may cause your asthma to flare-up.
A training course is usually recommended before adopting the exercises as part of your daily routine.
Buteyko Breathing Technique
The Buteyko Breathing Technique (BBT) is a system of breathing exercises. It may be able to help reduce your asthma symptoms through slow, gentle breathing.
BBT focuses on breathing out of your nose instead of your mouth. Breathing out of your mouth can dry out your airways and make them more sensitive.
Some people may experience less respiratory infections from using this technique. Others who practice BBT believe that it helps to raise your carbon dioxide levels. Still, there isn’t conclusive evidence to support this theory.
Although there’s no specific diet for people with severe asthma, there are a few steps you can take that may help with your symptoms.
Being overweight can often worsen severe asthma. It’s important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. These are good sources of antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, and they may help to reduce inflammation around your airways.
If you experience a flare-up in asthma symptoms after eating certain foods, try to avoid eating them. It’s possible that you have a food allergy that’s causing your symptoms to worsen. Talk to your doctor to confirm this.
Some of these natural remedies may be able to help reduce asthma symptoms. But you should still adhere to the medications your doctor prescribes. Plus, many of these have limited or no evidence that they work for asthma.
Check with your doctor before trying out a new complementary therapy. If you start to notice any new side effects, stop taking or using it right away.