Don’t let asthma knock the wind out of you. Asthma is a lung disorder characterized by sudden fits of wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
Try proven herbal remedies
Boswellia extract (900 mg a day), ivy leaf extract (50 drops a day), or tylophora leaf (200 to 400 mg a day) may improve breathing; children should get one-half of these amounts or less, depending on body weight
Clean it up
To avoid triggering asthma attacks, control household and workplace irritants such as dust, mold, smoke, chemicals, and animal dander, and dietary triggers like certain food additives
Keep a healthy body weight
Shed extra pounds to improve breathing and decrease the need for medications
See an allergist
Find a specialist to help you build tolerance to allergens
About This Condition
Asthma is a lung disorder in which spasms and inflammation of the bronchial passages restrict the flow of
air in and out of the lungs.
The number of people with asthma and the death rate from this condition have been increasing since the
late 1980s. Environmental pollution may be one of the causes of this growing epidemic. Work exposure to flour
or cotton dust, animal fur, smoke, and a wide variety of chemicals has been linked to increased risk of
Findings from animal and human studies confirm that DTP (diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and pertussis) and
tetanus vaccinations can induce allergic responses,2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and can increase
the risk of allergies, including allergic asthma. An analysis of data from nearly 14,000 infants and children
revealed that having a history of asthma is twice as great among those who were vaccinated with DTP or
tetanus vaccines than among those who were not.7
An asthma attack usually begins with sudden fits of wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath. However, it may also begin insidiously with slowly increasing manifestations of respiratory distress. A sensation of tightness in the chest is also common.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
Being overweight increases the risk of asthma.8 Obese people with asthma may improve their lung-function symptoms and overall health status by engaging in a weight-loss program. A controlled study found that weight loss resulted in significant decreases in episodes of shortness of breath, increases in overall breathing capacity, and decreases in the need for medication to control symptoms.9
A set of breathing exercises called Buteyko breathing techniques has been reported to significantly reduce the need for prescription drugs for people with asthma.10 Although the people in this controlled trial experienced an improved quality of life while doing these exercises, objective measures of breathing capacity did not improve, despite the decreased need for drugs.
Antibiotic use during the first year or two of life has been associated with an increased risk of asthma in preliminary studies.11, 12 Whether this association might result from allergic versus non-allergic effects remains unknown. However, the association does suggest that, until more is known, gratuitous use of antibiotics in early childhood (e.g., to inappropriately treat viral diseases) should be reconsidered. Of course, the appropriate use of antibiotics in the treatment of infections as necessary should not be avoided. Concerns should be discussed with the prescribing physician.
Acupuncture might be useful for some asthmatics. Case reports13, 14 and preliminary trials15, 16, 17 have suggested acupuncture may be helpful for people with asthma, either as a treatment for an acute attack or as a longer term therapy for reducing the number or severity of attacks, decreasing the need for medications, and so on. Placebo-controlled trials using sham (“fake”) acupuncture, however, have been quite contradictory, many of them showing a strong placebo effect that is not significantly improved upon by real acupuncture.18, 19, 20, 21 It is possible that needle insertion in non-acupuncture points has a stimulating effect that benefits asthma. The success of acupuncture may also depend on other factors, such as the type of asthma being treated and certain characteristics of the patient. Nonetheless, since some controlled research has demonstrated positive effects of real acupuncture, people with asthma may want to consider a trial of acupuncture treatment to see if it helps their individual cases.
Chiropractic physicians have reported that manipulation may be helpful for patients with asthma.22, 23, 24 In a controlled study, chronic asthmatics received either real or sham chiropractic manipulations for four weeks, after which the treatments were switched for another four weeks. No improvement in measurements of lung function was found at the end of the study. In addition, while both the manipulation and the sham treatment groups reported significant decreases in asthma frequency and severity, there were no differences between the treatments.25 A larger controlled study compared chiropractic manipulation to sham manual treatments in children whose asthma was still a problem despite usual medical management.26 Both groups experienced a significant decrease in symptoms and need for medication, as well as small increases in ability to breathe. These benefits lasted for four months after the treatments were discontinued. Although there was no additional benefit of chiropractic compared to the sham treatments, it is possible that improvements in both groups were real, rather than placebo effects. The sham therapy, which consisted of “soft tissue massage and gentle palpation [touching],” may have had real effects. More research is needed to address this confusing issue.
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
Get your vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that may protect against asthma. Children with asthma have been shown to wheeze significantly less if they eat lots of vitamin C–rich fruit, such as citrus fruit, strawberries, and currants.
Vitamin C, an antioxidant present in fruits and vegetables, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. This anti-inflammatory activity may influence the development of asthma symptoms. A large preliminary study has shown that young children with asthma experience significantly less wheezing if they eat a diet high in fruits rich in vitamin C.27
Try a vegan diet
A vegan diet in conjunction with other dietary changes—such as avoiding caffeine, sugar, salt, and chlorinated tap water—can lead to improvements.
A vegan (pure vegetarian) diet given for one year in conjunction with many specific dietary changes (such as avoidance of caffeine, sugar, salt, and chlorinated tap water) and combined with a variety of herbs and supplements led to significant improvement in one group of asthmatics.28 Although 16 out of 24 people who continued the intervention for the full year were much better and one person was actually cured, it remains unclear how much of the action was purely a result of the dietary changes compared with the many other therapies employed.
Watch the salt
Too much salt may aggravate asthma symptoms, particularly in men. Cutting back may help keep airways clear.
Studies suggest that high salt intake may have an adverse effect on asthma, particularly in men. In a small, preliminary trial, doubling salt intake for one month led to a small increase in airway reactivity (indicating a worsening of asthma) in men with asthma, as well as in non-asthmatics.29 Several double-blind trials have provided limited evidence of clinical improvement following a period of sodium restriction.30, 31, 32, 33 It is difficult to compare the results of these studies because they used different amounts of sodium restriction. However, they consistently suggest that increased dietary sodium may aggravate asthma symptoms, especially in men.34
Look at food additives
Some asthmatics react to food additives and chemicals. A doctor or an allergist can help determine if you are chemically sensitive.
Some asthmatics react to food additives, such as sulfites, tartrazine (yellow dye #5), and sodium benzoate, as well as natural salicylates (aspirin-like substances found in many foods).35, 36 A doctor or an allergist can help determine whether chemical sensitivities are present.
Uncover food allergies
Unrecognized food allergy can aggravate asthma. Try an elimination diet to uncover potential problem foods. A healthcare professional must supervise this test because it is possibile to trigger a severe asthma attack during the reintroduction.
Although most people with asthma do not suffer from food allergies,37 unrecognized food allergy can be an exacerbating factor.38 A medically supervised “allergy elimination diet,” followed by reintroduction of the eliminated foods, often helps identify problematic foods. A healthcare professional must supervise this allergy test because of the possibility of triggering a severe asthma attack during the reintroduction.39
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
250 to 500 mg twice per day
Amrita Bindu is an Ayurvedic herbal preparation shown to have antioxidant activity. In one study, some children with severe asthma who received amrita bindu were able to stop their asthma medications and were no longer having asthma attacks.
Amrita Bindu is an Ayurvedic herbal preparation that contains a mixture of 13 salts and spices. It has been shown to have antioxidant activity. In a preliminary study, children with severe asthma received 250 to 500 mg (depending on their age) of Amrita Bindu twice a day after meals.40 After three months of treatment, most of the children were able to stop their prescription asthma medications and were no longer having asthma attacks. While these results are impressive, they should be followed up with a double-blind study, to rule out the possibility that the benefit was due to a placebo effect.
64 mg a day of natural supplement
Some researchers have suggested that exercise-related asthma attacks might be caused by free-radical damage caused by the exercise. Supplementing with beta-carotene, an antioxidant, protects against free-radical damage and may prevent these attacks.
Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.
Some researchers have suggested that asthma attacks triggered by exercise might be caused by free-radical damage caused by the exercise. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that protects against free-radical damage. Israeli researchers reported that 64 mg per day of natural beta-carotene for one week in a double blind trial protected over half of a group of asthmatics who experienced attacks as a result of exercise.41 More research is needed to confirm this promising finding.
300 mg three times per day of a resin extract
In one trial, people with acute bronchial asthma who took powdered boswellia resin extract had significantly fewer asthma attacks and improved measurements of breathing capacity.
One double-blind trial has investigated the effects of the Ayurvedic herb boswellia in people with acute bronchial asthma.42 Participants took 300 mg of powdered boswellia resin extract or placebo three times daily for six weeks. By the end of the study, the number of asthma attacks was significantly lower in the group taking boswellia. Moreover, objective measurements of breathing capacity were also significantly improved by boswellia.
Adults: 50 mg three times per day for adults; children: 50 to150 mg per day, depending on body size
In one study, asthma patients taking inhaled steroids who also took butterbur extract saw significant improvement in airflow.
In a double-blind study, adult asthma patients taking inhaled steroids took either butterbur extract or placebo.43 There was a significantly greater improvement in airflow in the group that took butterbur extract compared with those who took placebo. A study without a control group showed that people with mild asthma, most still taking various anti-asthma medications, had better airflow but actually showed some evidence of having more frequent asthma attacks when they took butterbur.44 Therefore more rigorous studies are needed to know how effective butterbur is in people with asthma.
Consult a doctor
Research shows that fish oil partially reduces reactions to allergens that can trigger asthma attacks. It has also been shown in one study to prevent exercise-induced asthma attacks.
Double-blind research shows that fish oil partially reduces reactions to allergens that can trigger attacks in some asthmatics.45 Another double-blind study showed that fish oil supplements prevented exercise-induced asthma attacks in people with asthma.46 A few other researchers have reported small but significant improvements when asthmatics supplement with fish oil,47, 48 but reviews of the research concluded that most fish oil studies showed little or no benefit.49, 50 It is possible that some of these trials failed to show an improvement because they did not last long enough to demonstrate an effect. There is evidence that children who eat oily fish may have a much lower risk of getting asthma.51 Moreover, in a double-blind trial, children who received 300 mg per day of fish oil (providing 84 mg of EPA and 36 mg of DHA) experienced significant improvement of asthma symptoms.52 It should be noted that these benefits were obtained under circumstances in which exposure to food allergens and environmental allergens was strictly controlled. Though the evidence supporting the use of fish oil remains somewhat conflicting, eating more fish and supplementing with fish oil may still be worth considering, especially among children with asthma.
50 mg of omega-3 fatty acids twice per day
In a study of people with asthma, supplementing with a proprietary extract of New Zealand green-lipped mussel (Lyprinol) significantly decreased wheezing and improved airflow.
In a double-blind study of people with asthma, supplementation with a proprietary extract of New Zealand green-lipped mussel (Lyprinol) twice a day for 8 weeks significantly decreased daytime wheezing and improved airflow through the bronchi.53 Each capsule of Lyprinol contains 50 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
500 mg three times per day
Animal studies have found that extracts of holy basil help keep the bronchial airway passages clear. In two trials, asthma patients who took holy basil had better breathing function and fewer attacks.
Animal studies have found that extracts of holy basil (Ocimim sanctum) inhibit constriction of the bronchial airway passages.54 Two preliminary clinical trials treated asthma patients with 500 mg of holy basil three times daily for one month.55, 56 Breathing function improved and the frequency of attacks was reduced. Placebo-controlled research is needed to validate these results.
25 drops of a leaf extract twice per day
A study involving children with bronchial asthma suggested that ivy leaf was effective in increasing the amount of oxygen in the lungs.
A controlled trial on children with bronchial asthma suggested that 25 drops of ivy leaf extract given twice daily was effective in increasing the amount of oxygen in the lungs after only three days of use. However, the frequency of cough and shortness of breath symptoms did not change during the short trial period.57
30 mg daily
Lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, helps reduce exercise-related asthma attacks.
Lycopene, an antioxidant related to beta-carotene and found in tomatoes, helps reduce the symptoms of asthma caused by exercising. In one double-blind trial,58 over half of people with exercise-induced asthma had significantly fewer asthma symptoms after taking capsules containing 30 mg of lycopene per day for one week compared to when they took a placebo.
300 to 400 mg daily
People with asthma frequently have low magnesium levels. Supplementing with the mineral might help prevent asthma attacks because magnesium can prevent bronchial spasms.
Magnesium levels are frequently low in asthmatics.59 Current evidence suggests that high dietary magnesium intake may be associated with better lung function and reduced bronchial reactivity. Intravenous injection of magnesium has been reported in most,60, 61, 62, 63 but not all,64 double-blind trials to rapidly halt acute asthma attacks. Magnesium supplements might help prevent asthma attacks because magnesium can prevent spasms of the bronchial passages. In a preliminary trial, 18 adults with asthma took 300 mg of magnesium per day for 30 days and experienced decreased bronchial reactivity.65 However, a double-blind trial investigated the effects of 400 mg per day for three weeks and found a significant improvement in symptoms, but not in objective measures of airflow or airway reactivity.66 The amount of magnesium used in these trials was 300 to 400 mg per day. Children usually take proportionately less based on their body weight, but one study of asthmatic children between the ages of 17 and 19 used 300 mg of magnesium per day.67
400 to 1,500 mg of powdered root per day
Two preliminary trials have shown picrorhiza to improve asthma symptoms.
Two preliminary trials have shown picrorhiza to be of benefit in asthma.68, 69 However, a follow-up double-blind trial did not confirm these earlier results.70 A range of 400 to 1,500 mg of powdered, encapsulated picrorhiza per day has been used in a variety of trials. It remains unclear how effective picrorhiza is for people with asthma.
1 mg per pound of body weight per day, in two divided doses
In one trial, supplementing with Pycnogenol improved lung function and asthma symptoms and reduced the need for rescue medication in children with asthma.
In a double-blind trial, supplementing with Pycnogenol significantly improved lung function and asthma symptoms and significantly reduced the need for rescue medication in a group of children (ages 6 to 18 years) with asthma.71 In contrast, no significant changes were seen in the placebo group. The amount of Pycnogenol used was 1 mg per pound of body weight per day, in two divided doses, for three months.
Refer to label instructions
In preliminary trials, saiboku-to, a traditional Japanese herbal formula with numerous anti-inflammatory actions, has been shown to reduce asthma symptoms and the need for steroid medication.
In three preliminary trials on people with asthma, a traditional Japanese herbal formula known as saiboku-to has been shown to reduce symptoms and enable some people to reduce their use of steroid medication.72, 73, 74 Saiboku-to has been extensively studied in the laboratory and has been shown to have numerous anti-inflammatory actions.75 Some of these studies used 2.5 grams three times per day of saiboku-to. A traditional Chinese or Japanese medicine practitioner should be consulted for more information. Saiboku-to contains bupleurum, hoelen, pinellia, magnolia, Asian ginseng, Asian scullcap, licorice, perilla, ginger and jujube.
100 mcg daily
Asthma involves free-radical damage that selenium might protect against. In one trial, supplementing with sodium selenite (a form of selenium) improved symptoms in some patients.
People with low levels of selenium have a high risk of asthma.76, 77, 78, 79, 80 Asthma involves free-radical damage81 that selenium might protect against. In a small double-blind trial, supplementation with 100 mcg of sodium selenite (a form of selenium) per day for 14 weeks resulted in clinical improvement in six of eleven patients, compared with only one of ten in the placebo group.82 Most doctors recommend 200 mcg per day for adults (and proportionately less for children)—a much higher, though still safe, level.
150 to 400 mg daily of powdered leaf
Tylophora has been shown to benefit people with asthma in a variety of ways, including relieving asthma symptoms, increasing the lungs’ capacity for oxygen, and reducing nighttime shortness of breath.
Different preparations of tylophora, including crude leaf, tincture, and capsule, have been tested in human clinical trials. One double-blind trial had people with bronchial asthma chew and swallow one tylophora leaf (150 mg of the leaf by weight) per day for six days. Participants were also given a comparable placebo to be chewed and swallowed during a different six-day period. When consuming tylophora, over half of the people reported experiencing moderate to complete relief of their asthma symptoms, compared to only about 20% reporting relief when consuming the placebo.83 In a follow-up double-blind trial, an alcoholic extract of crude tylophora leaves had comparable effects to that of chewing the crude leaf.84 Another double-blind trial found 350 mg of tylophora leaf powder per day increased the lungs’ capacity for oxygen and reduced nighttime shortness of breath, but was not as effective as an antiasthmatic drug combination.85 A fourth double-blind trial found no significant changes in lung volume measurements or asthmatic symptoms after treatment with 400 mg per day tylophora.86
100 to 200 mg daily
Vitamin B6 deficiency is common in asthmatics. Supplementing with the vitamin may decrease the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.
Vitamin B6 deficiency is common in asthmatics.87 This deficiency may relate to the asthma itself or to certain asthma drugs (such as theophylline and aminophylline) that deplete vitamin B6.88 In a double-blind trial, 200 mg per day of vitamin B6 for two months reduced the severity of asthma in children and reduced the amount of asthma medication they needed.89 In another trial, asthmatic adults experienced a dramatic decrease in the frequency and severity of asthma attacks while taking 50 mg of vitamin B6 twice a day.90 Nonetheless, the research remains somewhat inconsistent, and one double-blind trial found that high amounts of B6 supplements did not help asthmatics who required the use of steroid drugs.91
1,000 to 1,500 mg daily
Supplementing with vitamin C reduces the tendency of the bronchial passages to go into spasm, an action that has been confirmed in double-blind research.
Supplementation with 1 gram of vitamin C per day reduces the tendency of the bronchial passages to go into spasm,92 an action that has been confirmed in double-blind research.93 Beneficial effects of short-term vitamin C supplementation (i.e., less than three days) have been observed. In double-blind trials, supplementation with 1,000 to 1,500 mg of vitamin C per day for 2 to 14 days prevented attacks of exercise-induced asthma.94, 95 Two other preliminary trials found that vitamin C supplementation reduced bronchial reactivity to metacholine, a drug that causes bronchial constriction.96, 97 However, other studies,98 including two double-blind trials,99, 100 have failed to corroborate these findings. The only double-blind trial of a long duration found that vitamin C supplementation (1 gram per day for 14 weeks) reduced the severity and frequency of attacks among Nigerian adults with asthma.101 A buffered form of vitamin C (such as sodium ascorbate or calcium ascorbate) may work better for some asthmatics than regular vitamin C (ascorbic acid).102
1,200 IU per day for 15 to 17 weeks
A study of Japanese children found that daily supplementation with vitamin D during the winter months significantly reduced the amount of times the children experienced asthma attacks.
In a double-blind study of Japanese children (average age, ten years), supplementation with 1,200 IU per day of vitamin D for 15 to 17 weeks during the winter significantly reduced the incidence of asthma attacks compared with a placebo.103
Refer to label instructions
Used under medical supervision, betaine HCl may help restore stomach acid levels and improve asthma symptoms.
A study conducted many years ago showed that 80% of children with asthma had hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid). Supplementation with hydrochloric acid (HCl) in combination with avoidance of known food allergens led to clinical improvement in this preliminary trial.104 In more recent times, HCl has usually been supplemented in the form of betaine HCl. The amount needed depends on the severity of hypochlorhydria and on the size of a meal. Because it is a fairly strong acid, betaine HCl should be used only with medical supervision.
Refer to label instructions
Bromelain reduces the thickness of mucus, which may be beneficial for people with asthma.
Bromelain reduces the thickness of mucus, which may be beneficial for those with asthma,105 though clinical actions in asthmatics remain unproven.
50 to 100 mg of an extract standardized to 18% forskolin, taken two to three times per day
One trial found that a constituent of coleus, called forskolin, when inhaled, could decrease lung spasms in asthmatics.
A small double-blind trial found that a constituent of coleus, called forskolin, when inhaled, could decrease lung spasms in asthmatics compared to placebo.106 Coleus extracts standardized to 18% forskolin are available, and 50 to 100 mg can be taken two to three times per day. Fluid extract can be taken in the amount of 2 to 4 ml three times per day. Most trials have used injected forskolin, so it is unclear whether oral ingestion of coleus extracts will provide similar benefits in the amounts recommended above. One study found that 10 mg per day of forskolin taken orally for 2 months was of no benefit for adult asthmatics.107
Refer to label instructions
Elecampane has been used traditionally to treat coughs associated with asthma.
Traditionally, herbs that have a soothing action on bronchioles are also used for asthma. These include marshmallow, mullein, hyssop, and licorice. Elecampane has been used traditionally to treat coughs associated with asthma.108
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with the herb Ginkgo biloba may improve asthma, as its extracts block the action of a compound that contributes to asthma symptoms.
Ginkgo biloba extracts have been considered a potential therapy for asthma. This is because the extracts block the action of platelet-activating factor (PAF), a compound the body produces that in part causes asthma symptoms. A trial using isolated ginkgolides from ginkgo (not the whole extract) found they reduced asthma symptoms.109 A controlled trial used a highly concentrated tincture of ginkgo leaf and found this preparation helped decrease asthma symptoms.110 For asthma, 120 to 240 mg of standardized ginkgo or 3 to 4 ml of regular tincture three times daily can be used.
Refer to label instructions
Hyssop, which has a soothing effect on bronchioles, has traditionally been used for asthma.
Traditionally, herbs that have a soothing action on bronchioles are also used for asthma. These include marshmallow, mullein, hyssop, and licorice. Elecampane has been used traditionally to treat coughs associated with asthma.111
Refer to label instructions
Khella is considered an anti-spasmodic. Though it is not strong enough to stop acute asthma attacks, it has been recommended by German herbal medicine practitioners for chronic asthma symptoms.
Eclectic physicians—doctors in turn-of-the-century North America who used herbs as their main medicine—considered lobelia to be one of the most important plant medicines.112 Traditionally, it was used by Eclectics to treat coughs and spasms in the lungs from all sorts of causes.113 A plant that originates in Africa, khella, is also considered an anti-spasmodic like lobelia. Though it is not strong enough to stop acute asthma attacks, khella has been recommended by German physicians practicing herbal medicine as possibly helpful for chronic asthma symptoms.114
Refer to label instructions
In a double-blind trial, supplementing with L-carnitine improved lung function and overall asthma control, compared with a placebo, in children with asthma.
In a double-blind trial, supplementing with L-carnitine (1,050 mg each morning for six months) improved lung function and overall asthma control, compared with a placebo, in Egyptian children with asthma.115
Refer to label instructions
Licorice, which has a soothing effect on bronchioles, has traditionally been used for asthma.
Traditionally, herbs that have a soothing action on bronchioles are also used for asthma. These include marshmallow, mullein, hyssop, and licorice. Elecampane has been used traditionally to treat coughs associated with asthma.116
Refer to label instructions
Lobelia has been used traditionally to treat coughs and spasms in the lungs from all kinds of causes.
Eclectic physicians—doctors in turn-of-the-century North America who used herbs as their main medicine—considered lobelia to be one of the most important plant medicines.117 Traditionally, it was used by Eclectics to treat coughs and spasms in the lungs from all sorts of causes.118 A plant that originates in Africa, khella, is also considered an anti-spasmodic like lobelia. Though it is not strong enough to stop acute asthma attacks, khella has been recommended by German physicians practicing herbal medicine as possibly helpful for chronic asthma symptoms.119
Refer to label instructions
Marshmallow, which has a soothing effect on bronchioles, has traditionally been used for asthma.
Traditionally, herbs that have a soothing action on bronchioles are also used for asthma. These include marshmallow, mullein, hyssop, and licorice. Elecampane has been used traditionally to treat coughs associated with asthma.120
Refer to label instructions
The trace mineral molybdenum helps the body detoxify sulfites, which can trigger asthma attacks.
In some people with asthma, symptoms can be triggered by ingestion of food additives known as sulfites. Pretreatment with a large amount of vitamin B12 (1,500 mcg orally) reduced the asthmatic reaction to sulfites in children with sulfite sensitivity in one preliminary trial.121 The trace mineral molybdenum also helps the body detoxify sulfites.122 While some doctors use molybdenum to treat selected patients with asthma, there is little published research on this treatment, and it is not known what an appropriate level of molybdenum supplementation would be. A typical American diet contains about 200 to 500 mcg per day,123 and preliminary short-term trials have used supplemental amounts of 500 mcg per day.124 People who suspect sulfite-sensitive asthma should consult with a physician before taking molybdenum.
Refer to label instructions
Mullein, which has a soothing effect on bronchioles, has traditionally been used for asthma.
Traditionally, herbs that have a soothing action on bronchioles are also used for asthma. These include marshmallow, mullein, hyssop, and licorice. Elecampane has been used traditionally to treat coughs associated with asthma.125
Refer to label instructions
Onion may act as an anti-inflammatory in people with asthma.
Onion may act as an anti-inflammatory in people with asthma. Human studies have shown onion can be a strong anti-inflammatory.126 However, some people with asthma may experience an exacerbation of symptoms if they are allergic to onion and are exposed to it.127
Refer to label instructions
Quercetin, a flavonoid found in many plants, has an inhibiting action on lipoxygenase, an enzyme that contributes to problems with asthma.
Quercetin, a flavonoid found in most plants, has an inhibiting action on lipoxygenase, an enzyme that contributes to problems with asthma.128 No clinical trials in humans have confirmed whether quercetin decreases asthma symptoms. Some doctors are currently experimenting with 400 to 1,000 mg of quercetin three times per day.
Refer to label instructions
A thymus extract known as thymomodulin has been shown to improve the symptoms and course of asthma, presumably as the result of restoration of proper immune function control.
The oral administration of a thymus extract known as thymomodulin has been shown in preliminary and double-blind clinical trials to improve the symptoms and course of asthma.129, 130, 131, 132 Presumably this clinical improvement is the result of restoration of proper control over immune function.
Refer to label instructions
In some people, asthma symptoms can be triggered by ingesting sulfites, a food additive. Pretreatment with a large amount of vitamin B12 reduced some children’s asthmatic reaction to sulfites in one trial.
In some people with asthma, symptoms can be triggered by ingestion of food additives known as sulfites. Pretreatment with a large amount of vitamin B12 (1,500 mcg orally) reduced the asthmatic reaction to sulfites in children with sulfite sensitivity in one preliminary trial.133 The trace mineral molybdenum also helps the body detoxify sulfites.134 While some doctors use molybdenum to treat selected patients with asthma, there is little published research on this treatment, and it is not known what an appropriate level of molybdenum supplementation would be. A typical American diet contains about 200 to 500 mcg per day,135 and preliminary short-term trials have used supplemental amounts of 500 mcg per day.136 People who suspect sulfite-sensitive asthma should consult with a physician before taking molybdenum.
Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Selenium
Refer to label instructions
There is some evidence that a combination of antioxidants vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium may help prevent asthma thought to be caused by air pollution.
There is some evidence that combinations of antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium may help improve symptoms of asthma throught to be caused by air pollution.137 In one double-blind study, 46 Dutch bicyclists were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or 100 mg of vitamin E and 500 mg of vitamin C daily for 15 weeks.138 Lung function was measured before and after each training session on 380 different occasions, and ambient ozone concentrations were measured during each training session. After analysis, researchers concluded that bicyclists with the vitamins C and E blunted the adverse effects of ozone on measures of lung function. In another double-blind study, 17 adults (18 to 39 years old) were randomly assigned to receive either 400 IU per day of vitamin E and 500 mg per day of vitamin C or a placebo for five weeks.139 Tests showing improved measures of lung function led researchers to conclude that supplementation with vitamins C and E inhibited the decline in pulmonary function induced in asthmatics by exposure to air pollutants. Also using a double-blind design, another study of 158 children with asthma living in Mexico City were randomly assigned to receive, a daily supplement containing 50 mg of vitamin E and 250 mg of vitamin C or a placebo.140 Tests results suggested that supplementing with vitamins C and E may reduce the adverse effect of ozone exposure on lung function of children with moderate to severe asthma.
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