The 9 Best Herbs for Asthma

Do you find breathing difficult at times? Does it feel as though you are unable to take long, deep breaths without coughing?  Asthma is a common disease, especially among children. …

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Written by: Siobhan Mendicino
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Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Do you find breathing difficult at times? Does it feel as though you are unable to take long, deep breaths without coughing? 

Asthma is a common disease, especially among children. While there are modern medical ways to alleviate asthmatic symptoms, many different natural remedies for asthma have proven to be highly effective.    

Using natural herbs for asthma can be helpful for improving oxygen intake and reducing discomfort in the airways. 

This article gives an overview of the most significant clinical research behind the best herbs for asthma. 

best herbs for asthma - close up image of turmeric

Overview:

Asthma is a disease of the lungs and is characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Symptoms can range from mild wheezing to life-threatening closure of the airways. 

Hyperresponsiveness and chronic inflammation are two of the key drivers of asthma.

Airway hyperresponsiveness is when the airways over-constrict in response to a trigger (often an allergen). This causes a narrowed airway which in turn leads to breathing difficulties and a lack of oxygen in the body. 

Chronic inflammation causes airway constriction, excess mucus production, as well as lung tissue scarring, and stiffness. Tissue stiffness, or fibrosis, that occurs causes parts of the lung to become rigid and ineffective leading to a breakdown in respiratory health.      

Approximately 8% of the US population has reported having asthma, with higher percentages in children. Common causes of asthmatic attacks include pollen, dust mites, animal dander, tobacco, exercise, and cold air. 

Herbs and natural bronchodilators can open up the airways and help to reduce inflammation and thus improve lung function.

The 9 Best Herbs for Asthma:

Below are the best herbs for asthma symptoms. These herbs have been known to alleviate asthmatic responses in a number of ways.

1. Black Seed

Black seed is a popular herb for asthma treatment. It’s one of the most commonly used supplements for asthma treatments.

A placebo-controlled study discovered that 500mg daily of black seed oil was able to reduce biomarkers involved with allergic reactions. This allowed the study participants to exhale greater amounts of air, an indicator of increased lung capacity.

Another clinical trial found that black seed oil is able to reduce inflammation in the lungs. Researchers mention that the decrease of the inflammatory response may be helpful for those suffering from asthmatic symptoms. 

A randomized trial involving children with asthma discovered that supplementation of black seed oil significantly improved asthma control. The oil was also able to regulate inflammatory biomarkers and reduce inflammation. 

In another study, black seed was able to ease asthmatic symptoms. The extract specifically inhibited inflammation of the airway and had a bronchodilatory effect. 

Summary:

Several trials show that black seed is beneficial to those struggling with asthma by increasing lung capacity and reducing inflammation.

2. Turmeric 

Using turmeric for asthma is a popular natural remedy for asthma. Turmeric is an herb known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties – it’s thought to be one of the best natural asthma remedies.

A study involving patients with moderate to severe asthma discovered that curcumin, the active constituent in turmeric, has the ability to reduce inflammation in the respiratory system.

Another trial observing individuals with persistent asthma found that turmeric has the ability to prevent nighttime awakenings caused by asthmatic episodes and reduce the amount of “rescue medication” used.

In a study involving 77 participants with mild-to-moderate bronchial asthma, curcumin was able to alleviate airway constriction along with a host of other asthmatic symptoms. Researchers noted that there weren’t any adverse effects and that curcumin should be considered therapeutic for those with bronchial asthma.  

Summary:

Turmeric shows evidence of being one of the best herbs for asthma by its ability to decrease respiratory inflammation.

3. Astragalus  

Astragalus is one of the best herbs for asthma. It’s known for reducing symptoms of hyperresponsiveness and inflammation in the airways.

A study observing 80 children with asthma found that astragalus was able to improve the volume of air the children were able to breathe out during a forced expiratory (breathing out) test. Researchers believe this effect is due to astragalus’ ability to reduce inflammation.

In a clinical combination study involving adults with asthma, a blend of astragalus, Dangshen (Codonopsis pilosula), and Chinese liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) was able to significantly increase the amount of air that was forcibly exhaled from the lungs.

An animal study discovered that astragalus extract has the ability to reduce inflammation and hyperresponsiveness in the airways of asthmatic mice.

Another animal study observing mice with allergy-induced asthma found that astragalus was able to reduce inflammation in the lungs, as well as reduce the amount of mucus secretion in the lung tissues.

Summary:

Research indicates that astragalus may help those with asthma by supporting lung function. Additional human studies are required to confirm these findings.

4. Cordyceps

Clinical research indicates that the medicinal mushroom cordyceps is one of the best herbs for asthma due to its ability to improve lung function. 

In a clinical trial observing participants with moderate-to-severe asthma, cordyceps was able to increase lung capacity and function as well as decrease inflammation. After three months of supplementation, the study participants found that their asthma symptoms improved significantly.  

An animal study found that cordyceps has the ability to alleviate airway hyperresponsiveness in rodents with allergy-induced asthma. The extract also appeared to prevent inflammation in the lungs.

An in vitro study found that cordyceps is effective for lowering inflammation levels in the bronchioles. 

Summary:

Research shows that cordyceps mushroom may be able to help asthmatic individuals by reducing inflammation. Further studies are needed for verification of this benefit.

5. Ginger

Research, and traditional usage, shows that ginger may help reduce inflammation in the lungs and therefore may be a helpful natural remedy for asthma. 

In a trial involving patients with tuberculosis, ginger was shown to reduce inflammation in the lungs. These promising results led researchers to believe that ginger should be considered for reducing inflammation in patients with asthma. 

An animal study found that ginger extract, as well as one of its active constituents, shogoal, was able to reduce lung inflammation in rodents with asthma. The extract also caused the smooth muscle of the airway to relax, causing fewer spasmodic contractions. 

Summary:

Preliminary studies show that ginger may be beneficial in reducing inflammation in the lungs. More research is needed to confirm these findings.
best herbs for asthma - rosemary

6. Rosemary

Research shows that rosemary is a helpful natural herb for asthma treatment.

In a comparison study involving asthmatic patients, researchers found that rosemary reduced asthmatic symptoms significantly compared to other herbs. The rosemary extract was found to reduce coughing, wheezing, and mucus production. These effects were attributed to the rosemary’s ability to reduce inflammation in the airway. 

An animal study observed rosemary’s promising ability to reduce pro-inflammatory biomarkers in mice with pleurisy.

Another animal study discovered that carnosol, an active constituent of rosemary, has the ability to inhibit the inflammatory response in mice with allergic asthma. Researchers attributed this effect to carnosol’s ability to regulate the body’s immune response. 

Summary:

Studies show that rosemary may help to reduce asthmatic symtpoms. Large-scale human studies are needed to verify these findings.

7. Garlic

Garlic is an important herb for asthma since it’s mechanism of action appears to be its ability to reduce airway inflammation. 

In a lab study, garlic extract was found to be helpful for reducing airway inflammation. The researchers mentioned that garlic helped to decrease bronchial wall inflammation and prevent mucus buildup.

In another animal study, garlic extract was found to reduce multiple inflammatory biomarkers in mice with asthma. After taking garlic daily for four weeks, the mice showed a noticeable reduction in airway inflammation.

Another animal study found similar results in mice who were injected with aged garlic extract. The extract was able to reduce inflammatory biomarkers and significantly decrease levels of inflammation in the airways of mice with allergy-induced inflammation.  

Research has shown that a compound in garlic known as diallyl-disulfide is responsible for the anti-inflammatory and protective effects of garlic when used for inflammation of the airway.

Summary:

Lab-based studies give evidence of that garlic may have the ability to reduce inflammation in the lungs. Additional research is needed for confirmation of these findings.

8. Artemisia annua

Artemisia, or wormwood, is an important anti-asthmatic herb and is thought to be an important supplement for asthma.

An animal trial found that Artemisia annua extract has the ability to relax the smooth muscle of the airway. This discovery shows artemisia’s potential for reducing hypersensitivity in people with asthma. 

In an in vitro study, researchers observed Casticin, an active phytochemical in artemisia, to be effective in reducing the inflammatory response in human airway cells. 

Another in vitro study discovered that both casticin and chrysosplenol D, found in artemisia, have anti-inflammatory actions. 

Summary:

Research has found that artemisia may be able to decrease allergen sensitivity and inflammatory response. Further research needs to be conducted to verify these findings.
best herbs for asthma - asian ginseng

9. Asian Ginseng

Research shows that Asian ginseng is one of the herbs that helps asthma.

An animal study discovered that ginsenoside Rh2, an active constituent of red ginseng, has the ability to reduce the severity of the pro-inflammatory response of the airway. Researchers noted that ginsenoside had this effect by reducing the body’s inflammatory response.

In another animal study, red ginseng was found to improve symptoms of allergic asthma through inflammation reduction. Red ginseng also improved airway narrowing and airway hyperresponsiveness through modulation of the immune response. 

Summary:

Limited animal research shows that Asian ginseng may be able to reduce inflammatory response severity, however, human clininal studies are needed for verification of this finding.

Common Symptoms of Asthma:

Asthma is a common illness that can lead to severe issues with the respiratory system and potentially cause life-threatening situations. 

Typical symptoms of asthma include: 

  • Breathlessness
  • Wheezing
  • Cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Excess mucus production 

Asthmatic episodes consist of specific instances when the above symptoms are highly prevalent. When understanding the severity of a person’s asthma condition, health practitioners often look for: 

  • When asthma episodes occur (morning/night)
  • Presence of an allergen when episodes occur
  • How frequently episodes occur

Causes of Asthma:  

There are a variety of factors that cause asthma and asthmatic episodes. These causes fall under two categories: Allergens and non-allergens. 

Allergen causes may include: 

  • House dust mite
  • Pollen
  • Cockroach residue
  • Mold
  • Animal dander

Non-allergen causes may include: 

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Cold air 
  • Exercise
  • Viral infections
  • Antibiotic use

Due to the onset of asthmatic episodes, health practitioners often recommend several avoidance techniques that can improve the quality of life for those with asthma. 

Some of these techniques include: 

  • Using allergen-impermeable covers for bedding
  • Keeping the humidity in the house below 50% to prevent mite growth
  • Limiting time spent outside when pollen is at its peak
  • Removing pets from the home
  • Cleaning with fungicides
  • Using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters

Both modern medical care and avoidance techniques can significantly impact asthma symptoms and episodes. Applying the use of herbs and natural remedies for asthma symptoms may result in active and preventative benefits. 

Conclusion:

Managing asthma is necessary for sustained overall health and living a high-quality life. 

As mentioned above, numerous natural herbs have been clinically observed to regulate and improve asthma symptoms and episodes. 

Whether it’s through the regulation of the body’s inflammatory response or relaxation of the airway, these herbs show promise as a therapy for those suffering from asthma. 

Please note that it is of great importance to consult a health practitioner if you are considering adding supplements or making changes to your daily routine.  

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About Siobhan Mendicino

Siobhan is a herbal researcher and writer. She has a bachelor of science in communications as well as having completed a post-baccalaureate certificate in herbal studies.

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