On May 29, 2014, Manalapan health Examiner Stacey Chillemi research a variety of recent studies on alternative methods and herbal supplements that have been used for centuries to help prevent and cure asthma. Some of these time-honored remedies are showing promising results in recent research studies. Here is a rundown of some of the most popular natural remedies for asthma.
Buteyko Breathing Technique for Asthma
Russian-born researcher Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko developed the Buteyko (pronounced bew-TAY-ko) Breathing Technique. It consists of shallow-breathing exercises designed to help people with asthma breathe easier. It is based on the premise that raising blood levels of carbon dioxide through shallow breathing can treat asthma. Carbon dioxide is believed to dilate the smooth muscles of the airways. A study involving 60 people with asthma compared the effects of the Buteyko Breathing Technique, a device that mimics pranayama (a yoga breathing technique), and a placebo. Researchers found people using the Buteyko Breathing Technique had a reduction in asthma symptoms. Symptoms did not change in the pranayama and the placebo groups. The use of inhalers was reduced in the Buteyko group by two puffs a day at six months, but there was no change in the other two groups.There have been several other promising clinical trials evaluating this technique.
Biofeedback has long been recommended as a natural therapy for asthma. The idea behind biofeedback is that, by harnessing the power of your mind and becoming aware of what's going on inside your body, you can gain more control over your health. Researchers aren't exactly sure how or why biofeedback works. They do know that biofeedback promotes relaxation, which can help relieve a number of conditions. During a biofeedback session, electrodes are attached to your skin. These electrodes send signals to a monitor, which displays a sound, flash of light, or image that represents your heart and breathing rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, sweating, or muscle activity. When you're under stress, these functions change. Your heart rate speeds up, your muscles tighten, your blood pressure rises, you start to sweat, and your breathing quickens. You can see these stress responses as they happen on the monitor, and then get immediate feedback as you try to stop them. A biofeedback therapist helps you practice relaxation exercises, which you fine-tune to control different body functions.
Fruits, vegetables, and supplements used to prevent, improve and cure asthma:
Omega Fatty Acids
The primary inflammation-causing fat in our diets is called arachidonic acid. A German study examined data from 524 children and found that asthma was more prevalent in children with high levels of arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid is found in food, particularly egg yolks, shellfish, and meat. Eating less of these foods may decrease inflammation and asthma symptoms.
Arachidonic acid can also be produced in our bodies. Another strategy to reduce levels of arachidonic acid is to increase intake of beneficial fats such as EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) from fish oil, and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) from borage or evening primrose oil.
Fruits and Vegetables
- A study examining food diaries of 68,535 women found that women who had a greater intake of tomatoes, carrots, and leafy vegetables had a lower prevalence of asthma.
- High consumption of apples may protect against asthma.
- Daily intake of fruits and vegetables in childhood decreased the risk of asthma.
- A University of Cambridge study found that asthma symptoms in adults are associated with a low dietary intake of fruit, vitamin C, and manganese.
Butterbur is a perennial shrub that grows in Europe, Asia and North America. The active constituents are petasin and isopetasin, which are believed to reduce smooth muscle spasm and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Researchers at the University of Dundee, Scotland, evaluated the effects of the herb butterbur in people with allergic asthma who were also using inhalers. They found that butterbur added to the anti-inflammatory effect of the inhalers.
Another study examined the use of butterbur root extract in 80 people with asthma for four months. The number, duration, and severity of asthma attacks decreased and symptoms improved after using butterbur. More than 40 percent of people using asthma medication at the start of the study reduced their intake of medication by the end of the study. The butterbur plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can cause liver damage. Only extracts in which the pyrrolizidine alkaloids have been removed should be used.
Bromelain is an extract from pineapples that is believed to be a natural anti-inflammatory. Researchers at the University of Connecticut found that bromelain reduced airway inflammation in animals with allergic airway disease. Side effects may include allergic reactions in some people.
The herb boswellia, known in Indian Ayurvedic medicine as Salai guggal, has been found to inhibit the formation of compounds called leukotrienes. Leukotrienes released in the lungs cause narrowing of airways. A double blind, placebo-controlled study of forty patients, 40 people with asthma were treated with a boswellia extract three times a day for six weeks. At the end of this time, 70 percent of people had improved.