Alongside medication and a proper treatment plan, home remedies for asthma can play an important role in keeping symptoms under control. Remedies range from simply identifying triggers to making various lifestyle adjustments.
Asthma is a disease that causes inflammation in the airways in the lungs. The resulting swelling and narrowing of the airways make it harder to breathe, as do the increased levels of mucus and tightening muscles around the airways.
All of these effects can happen at once and continue to get more intense, leading to what people often call an asthma “attack.” During an asthma attack, the lungs do not get enough oxygen, so the person feels short of breath. They often cough, gasp, wheeze, and feel a tightness in their chest.
People with asthma, of whom there are more than 24 million in the United States, may sometimes need to go to the hospital or stay home from work, and the condition can even be fatal.
Asthma is a chronic disease, which means that there is no cure. However, people can often manage it with a combination of daily and rescue medications.
In addition, self-care is important for people with asthma. Individual responsibility and action are essential for the prevention of attacks. In combination with a medically sound asthma action plan, home remedies for asthma can be very helpful and play an important role in keeping it under control.
One of the most effective home remedies for asthma is identifying and eliminating triggers for asthma attacks. These triggers vary from person to person, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that the following are common:
- smoke, especially from tobacco, but also from burning wood or grass
- household pets, including dogs and cats
- dust mites
- air pollution
- being sick with a respiratory infection, such as influenza
- emotional stress
- cold air
Once a person knows what their asthma triggers are, they can take action to avoid them by, for example:
- refraining from smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
- using allergy-proof bedding, and washing and drying it weekly
- vacuuming regularly
- using airtight food storage to keep pests away and cleaning storage and dining areas frequently
- tracking air quality forecasts and changing plans to accommodate low air quality
- having an air filter in the bedroom
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, these healthful habits can help people manage their asthma:
- quitting smoking, if a smoker
- reaching or maintaining a moderate weight
- being physically active
- getting enough sleep
- practicing stress management techniques, such as mindfulness and deep breathing
Research indicates that yoga can be an effective home remedy for asthma. Data showed that participants with asthma who practiced physical yoga poses called Asanas, yoga breathing practices called Pranayama, and meditation had:
- reduced frequency of asthma attacks
- fewer asthma symptoms
- enhanced lung capacity
- improved blood flow
- better response to medication
According to experts, in 2012, 21.2% of adults and 7.2% of children with asthma in the U.S. used herbs, nonvitamin dietary supplements, or both to manage their condition. Although there is no reliable scientific evidence of their efficacy, the most common choices were:
- fish oil
Researchers have identified other natural products that people commonly use as home remedies for asthma. Again, there is not much scientific evidence to support them, but they include:
- over-the-counter (OTC) chest rubs, especially for children, frequently comprising eucalyptus oil, menthol, and camphor
- herbal therapies, such as chamomile, mint, and echinacea
It is important to use home remedies for asthma with caution because even OTC and so-called natural products can be dangerous for some people or in specific situations or combinations. People who are not aware of these hazards can put themselves at risk.
Experts point out that popular herbs, such as echinacea and chamomile, are members of the ragweed family. If people who are sensitive to ragweed use these herbs to manage their asthma symptoms, they may find themselves getting worse instead.
Other known and yet often unexpected side effects associated with home remedies for asthma include ephedra having a synergistic cardiovascular effect with albuterol (Ventolin) and some kinds of black licorice prolonging the half-life of corticosteroids.
People should discuss all aspects of managing their asthma with their healthcare providers and use caution when considering home remedies for asthma. Just because a treatment is popular does not mean that it is safe or effective.
For example, the American Lung Association reported research showing that soy isoflavone supplements, while popular, do not provide any benefits for people with asthma.
Experts say that stress and powerful emotions, such as anger, can sometimes bring on asthma attacks. Techniques to help people reduce their stress levels may be helpful home remedies for asthma, although additional research is necessary to confirm this.
Techniques that people may find beneficial include:
- breathing exercises
- massage therapy
Technology can help people manage their asthma, and several apps are available for this purpose.
Researchers have found that some apps could help people change their behavior and take the necessary steps to manage their asthma. Apps can also help people take their medications consistently and appropriately.
Asthma is a serious and chronic health condition that affects millions of people in the U.S. While there is no cure, people can manage it with consistent medical care.
Self-care is an important part of managing asthma, and many different home remedies for asthma help support individual wellness.
Avoiding known triggers, practicing yoga or other forms of regular exercise, using herbs and supplements wisely, and harnessing the power of technology to keep track of all these initiatives can help.