Points - Ask the Doctor

Q: What sets asthma apart from regular breathing problems and what are some natural treatments for asthma?

A: People who are having an asthma attack have real trouble taking a breath. Many people with stuffy noses from hay fever or colds say, “I can’t breathe,” but they retain the option of breathing through the mouth. Asthmatics, however, know what “I can’t breathe” really means. Instead of their nasal passages, it is the bronchial tubes in their lungs that become swollen and clogged. Breathing can become frighteningly difficult.

Asthma involves two conditions: (1) contraction of the small muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes and (2) swelling of the lining of those tubes. Until recently, treatment usually addressed the first aspect of asthma; but in the last decade, it has become clear that tissue swelling is more fundamental.

Perhaps the most promising natural treatment for asthma is the herb tylophora. Another possibility is an herb more famous for rheumatoid arthritis, boswellia. The herb Coleus forskohlii may also be helpful, but it is really more like a drug than an herb. Vitamin C also appears to be somewhat helpful. The Chinese herb ma huang is definitely effective for mild asthma, but it isn’t safe.

None of these treatments have been shown to be effective for severe asthma. Do not stop your standard asthma medication except on the advice of a physician.

About our Doctors

This month's Ask the Doctor question was answered by:

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, PhD, D.O.M., Dipl. ABAAHP . from his website:


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