Growing up as a child with extreme asthma, I spent my initial herbal learning years trying to understand the whats and whys of this condition. Was it stress, weak immune system, our animals, what? I grew up in a non smoking home with a health freak mother and an environment that was cleaner than any hospital. So why was I having such a hard time. Ultimately, I believe it was stress induced asthma, and I had to find a way to control it.
So, being dependent on an inhaler for what seemed most of my childhood, and despising that I felt 'addicted' to this silly breathing apparatus, I searched for alternatives. I first turned to eucalyptus essential oil to ease my breathing troubles. I found that by simply inhaling straight from the bottle, my whole body relaxed. This was simply amazing to me. I mean really...it really was amazing. I had control for the first time, not my inhaler. So now that I could relax enough to catch my breath, I thought, maybe I needed to strengthen my lungs and immune system. I was on the hunt for herbs and oils that were going to help me breath. I so wanted to just breath. Sounds silly to those who have never suffered an asthma attack, but for those who have, not being able to breath is hell.
I spent my time learning about asthma and what triggers it. Asthma can caused by all sorts of things such as allergens from foods, food additives, pollen, mold, dust, mites, and pet dander, smoke, air pollution and toxins, colds, flu, or pneumonia, strenuous exercise, weather; such as extreme changes in temperature, drugs, and even emotional stress and anxiety. There is also often a strong link between seasonal allergies and bronchial asthma. Those with other respiratory disorders such as chronic sinusitis, middle ear infections, and nasal polyps were also likely to have nighttime awakening due to asthma.
That was me, I had numerous ear infections and tubes put in my ears three times. I grew up in the city with all kinds of little pets and I'm sure there was pollen in the air and what not, but I really believe it was emotional stress, as stress is the one things I have manage to eradicate from my life. I strive to live simple, silly, happy and stress free... period. But the good news is, that I have over come my daily asthma and when I do have trouble breathing (usually after weed eating/heavy yard work, or sometimes during outdoor activities in the cold or snow) I am now better equipped to control it.
Below are some herbs and essential oils I have found over the years to be very useful between and during an asthma attack. Learn about them, they may be helpful for you.
There are herbs that will reduce attacks by strengthening the lungs and the immune systems as well as calming and relaxing.
Angelica - possess anti-inflammatory properties and increases immune system function; which is why the root is often used in treating allergies as well.
Anise - often an ingredient in cough syrups and lozenges as an expectorant, which means it helps in the coughing up of mucus in conditions like asthma, bronchitis, the common cold and whooping cough.
Coltsfoot - since the principal active ingredient in the plant is a throat-soothing mucilage, it has been used medicinally as a cough suppressant and remedy for asthma and bronchial congestion.
Elecampane - long valued as a tonic herb for the respiratory system. It is often used as a specific remedy for chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma. Elecampane soothes the bronchial tube linings and acts as an expectorant.
Horehound - anti-inflammatory and is often used to treat respiratory aliments such as asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough.
Licorice - has been used traditionally to restore breathing and calm the breathing passageways.
Lobelia - is a bronchodilator and antispasmodic which explains its popularity as a medicinal herb for asthma, spasmodic croup, pneumonia and whooping cough. It is thought to stimulate the respiratory center of the brain resulting in deeper and stronger breathing.
Marshmallow - a powerful anti-inflammatory
and anti-irritant. The
soothing and healing properties that are found in the mucilage in
marshmallow make it a valuable herb for many lung ailments such as asthma.
Mullein - contains antiseptic agents and is mostly used today for chest ailments including asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, pleurisy and whooping cough.
Passionflower - decreases the severity of lung spasms but also reduce
anxiety, thus lessening the chance of an attack.
Skullcap - due to its anti-spasmodic and sedative effects, it is also great for treating throat infections and incessant coughing.
Slipper Elm - has anti-inflammation and anti-irritant properties and is often recommended for lung conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, sore throats, coughs, pleurisy, or lung bleeding.
Turmeric - powerful anti-inflammatory and it is believed to reduce inflammation. Shows a similar efficacy to cortisone.Wild Cherry - is an expectorant, antispasmodic, and antitussive. These properties indicate its usefulness as a preparation for bronchitis or whooping cough and can be helpful in coughs that accompany pneumonia. It is also helpful in coughs with influenza, where there is associated shortness of breath and or wheezing.
Aromatherapy can also be very beneficial in controlling asthma as a number of essential oils have healing properties that reduce inflammation, encourage emotional balance, ease pain, discomfort and the struggle to breathe, and cause bronchodilation.
**Always check with a trained aromatherapist when choosing the appropriate essential oils for treatment of asthma.
Bergamot - anti-inflammatory and is reputed to strengthen the immune system and combat tension and anxiety.
Chamomile- anti-inflammatory and some studies have shown chamomile to slow allergic reactions, such as those that trigger
Clary Sage - sedative and anti-inflammatory properties contains several estrogen-like oils that, when blended together, work for this condition. Blend these oils together for a massage oil or add them to bath water.
Eucalyptus - reduces swelling in the mucus membranes. A valuable oil for fighting respiratory inflammation.
Lavender - is relaxing, calming, anti-inflammatory and a gentle antispasmodic that soothes and comfort distress. Facial steams help open airways and the lavender can quickly relax lung spasms.
Pine Needle - in the bath or in steam inhalation or in a diffuser, will help reduce the incidence of attacks.
Rose Absolute - is an antispasmodic oil and can be used in steam inhalation to calm attacks due to stress.
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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Jessica Morgan, M. H., Morgan Botanicals.
Disclaimer - The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for self-diagnosis or to replace any prescriptive medication. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem, suffer from allergies, are pregnant or nursing.
Jessica Morgan, M.H.