Asthma, how to treat it with plants

Stone mortar and pestle with sprigs of lavender in it, ready for crushing to treat asthma

Breathing means life and breathing well makes you feel even more alive!

The physiological process that takes place in the lungs helps the body access much-needed oxygen and discharge excess carbon dioxide, for humans and other living beings, too. With two main tracts and hundreds of millions of tiny cells, lungs are key to the breathing system.
When they’re “in bad shape”, the patient is exposed to a number of disorders. One of these particular respiratory diseases is asthma, which, according to WHO, impacts nearly 300 million persons on the planet.

This respiratory disease is very common in countries that are highly industrialized.

Asthma, a quick overview

The root word stems from ancient Greekásthma” and from ancient Latinasthma” which means “difficult breathing”.

Asthma is thus a disorder of the respiratory system that is connected to lower-level breathing passageways. These smallest of all air ducts in the body are called bronchioles, they stem out from the main pulmonary tract and lead fresh air up to the alveoli, which are the endmost tiny pockets of air in the lungs.

Symptoms of asthma

Usually, people suffering from asthma experience laborious breathing like being out of breath. Wheezing is common, as is the sensation that the thorax is gripped in a vice. There are different clinical types of asthma: allergy-related asthma, chronic asthma, asthma that appears after physical exercise

The clinical form that we will focus on in the present article is bronchial asthma. What are its symptoms?

Bronchial asthma is a combination of 2 lung diseases: asthma and bronchitis.

Detection signs for bronchial asthma include symptoms such as “chronic respiratory tract inflammation with hypersensitivity of the bronchi and contraction of the respiratory tract”. But there are also occurrences of more “conventional” asthma symptoms like bouts of cough that produce a thick translucent mucus, especially during the night.

The symptoms for the different types of asthma are very similar. It’s often quite difficult to determine the correct one.

Causes of asthma

Studies have shown that the ultimate causes of asthma are yet unknown.

However, some scientists have shown that multiple environmental (increased amounts of chemical pollutants in the air), genetic, psychological (stress), nutritional and even infectious risk factors may trigger a bout of asthma. Some even believe that this respiratory tract disease is hereditary, just like dermatitis or even allergic rhinitis.

Indeed, this type of asthma may be triggered by:

– physical exertion,

– allergens (animal fur, certain food items, dust, pollen),

– physical stimuli (cold/dry air, cigarette smoke),

– virus or bacteria-caused inflammation of the respiratory tracts.

Day-to-day life with chronic asthma

A common chronic respiratory disease, asthma, especially the more severe form, truly is felt as a handicap for day-to-day life for 76% of patients. Not only does it constrain their activity and physical capacities, it can also impact them psychologically, especially children, since it leads to a perpetual feeling of anxiety and a sense of feeling inferior.

Treating Asthma with plants

When dealing with asthma, being cautious is crucial and you must always work together with a qualified doctor.
Indeed, some plants aren’t recommended in some cases (such as pregnancy), and certain inhalations and essential oils are actually dangerous.

However, with a medical prescription, plants are extremely beneficial natural remedies to alleviate asthma.

For instance, passion flower, valerian (even garden valerian), fleawort (Plantago major), black currant, khella, lobelia, licorice, nigella, lime tree or basswood, ephedra, cinquefoil, dog rose, hawthorn, yerba santa, viburnum are plants with no essential oil that have positive effects against bronchial spasms and allergy.

As for plants that harbor essential oil, those that can be used against bronchial spasms and allergy are, among others: marjoram, rosemary, pine tree, garlic, wild thyme, garden thyme and lavender.

How to prepare these for internal use

Infusions prepared from a dose of 1 ½ oz (50 g) for one quart or liter (or 1 table spoon for just one mug) boiling water of any of the above plants, pure or combined, is a good idea every evening. You may choose from passion flower (flowers and leaves), hawthorn (flowers), poppy (flowers), plants of the Lotus genus (strands) or lime tree or basswood (berries).

It is also possible to drink 3 or 4 cups a day of an infusion prepared from these natural herbs: marjoram, poppies (flowers), melilot (strands), lobelia (flowered stem), hyssop (strands). 1 ⅓ oz (40 g) (or 3 table spoons) of each plant of your choice is enough for one quart or liter boiling water.

Note also that even when dealing with allergy-induced asthma, having a prescription issued by your consulting physician is important when considering use of mucus-regulating (mucolytic), bronchodilator, anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory agents.

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
Pixabay: Michele De Vivo