By Justyn Lang, Contributing Writer
My husband has had asthma since he was a child and was on different “maintenance” inhalers (aka, “steroids”) and albuterol for years. He was warned that not using these inhalers could cause horrible damage to his lungs. Not one doctor mentioned the risks and side effects of these powerful drugs. You can go to www.drugs.com to check out the side effects for yourself. The heart and central nervous system can have all kinds of crazy reactions, which is scary.
His asthma is allergy- and exercise-induced, so outdoor activities always required frequent puffs on his “rescue” inhaler (we would buy ventolin inhaler brand in our particular case). Whenever he used the albuterol, it was extremely difficult to stop. He would have rebound attacks for days, which either meant using more and more albuterol, or suffering through hours of horrible wheezing. To get through it, he would have to consume huge amounts of caffeine and sit (usually all night) in a steam-filled bathroom, just to be able to breathe.
8 Tips for Controlling Asthma Naturally
A few years ago, he decided to try to completely wean himself off these dangerous drugs. This was long before we knew anything about “real foods”, but I did know a bit about herbs. We had already had some success with large amounts of caffeine to get him through the initial attack from quitting the inhalers, but I hoped to find a healthier and more effective alternative.
Lobelia was my first discovery. Everything I read said it would help relax his chest and make breathing easier. I added some to a cup of tea… it did NOTHING. Completely worthless. We were so disappointed, but he made it through the initial withdrawal attack. After that, we just tried really hard to avoid any asthma triggers. Hmm. That would be exertion and the great outdoors. Hard things to avoid, so he wheezed a lot.
I continued to study herbs to treat other ailments, but I had pretty much given up on anything helping with asthma. Then, I stumbled upon one little sentence about lobelia that hadn’t been in any of the other books I’d read. “Do not heat.” Turns out, heat destroys the beneficial properties in lobelia. I had squirted the tincture into a hot cup of tea, which made it useless. I was so excited about this discovery that I redoubled my efforts to find ways to help my hubby. Here’s what we discovered over the last couple of years…
1. Half a dropper of lobelia tincture in a room-temperature cup of water works wonders!
Start out slowly and work your way up, though. Large amounts can induce vomiting, and everybody has a different threshold. Some people have great success applying it topically.
2. Inhaling clary sage essential oil opens up the respiratory tract and helps stop an attack.
It can be put in a diffuser, a bowl of steaming water, the floor of a shower, or even smelled straight from the bottle.
It is essential for muscles to properly relax. Due to depleted soil, many people are deficient in magnesium, so it is one of the very few supplements we take.
4. Cod Liver Oil
It is an excellent anti-inflammatory, which is helpful in reducing asthmatic tendencies.
5. Freeze-dried nettle
This is THE herb for reducing allergies. Taking it before being exposed to a known allergen can prevent an attack in the first place.
This is another safe and nutritious anti-inflammatory supplement. Ground turmeric can be taken in capsules, but you can also cook some delicious Indian food with lots of turmeric!
7. Eliminate Food Dyes
Asthma might be triggered by food additives, such as MSG or food colorings. These should be avoided for this, and many other reasons.
8. Eliminate Gluten (or Other Sensitive Foods)
Last December, our family went gluten-free for one month. During that time, my husband’s asthma completely disappeared. Although we now consume gluten again, we know that going gluten-free would be helpful if ever he is having a difficult time in the future. Consider food sensitivities as a possible cause. The GAPS diet might be worth trying, if herbal remedies aren’t enough for you.
Since switching to real foods last January, my husband seldom wheezes. I believe diet is more of a contributing factor than seasonal allergies or exercise. When he does have the occasional wheezing, the remedies above have proven to be even more effective than traditional drugs. He doesn’t have rebound attacks, and we aren’t risking his health by using these! The only “maintenance” we do is avoiding food additives as much as possible, though we do take the freeze-dried nettle quite often for allergies. It is highly nutritious and has no negative side-effects, so we’re okay with that.
Note from Kate: A recent study also showed that raw milk has a protective effect against asthma.
NOTE: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, do not use the lobelia or clary sage without the supervision of a qualified medical professional. I’d suggest a naturopathic doctor, who may prescribe something more suitable for a pregnant woman.