A Holistic Approach to Living with Asthma
Last updated: March 2022
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Dr. Ceaser’s Naturopathic Medicine Clinic on naturopathic medicine— a holistic approach to those living with asthma. The techniques below are not recommended to replace conventional treatments, but they can be used in conjunction with traditional medications and inhalers.
Those who suffer from asthma are always seeking new ways to treat this condition. But is there any validity in using natural solutions to alleviate the symptoms of asthma? If you’re interested in a holistic approach, you could benefit from naturopathic medicine for asthma. A holistic method involves looking at all factors that could contribute to one’s asthma, whereas conventional treatments typically isolate one factor and try to treat it. Holistic treatments focus on helping the mind and the body.
Identifying an allergy isn’t as easy as one might think. Contrary to popular belief, allergic reactions aren’t always immediate; they’re often delayed, and take the form of symptoms like eczema, arthritis, and asthma.1 You might be asked to keep a food diary in which you write down everything you eat and any symptoms that may result.
Herbs that have shown to be effective in relieving symptoms
Some herbs that have shown to be effective at treating symptoms of asthma include:2
- Honey. Honey can loosen mucus and soothe the throat, which is beneficial for coughs.
- Turmeric. This spice might diminish airway obstruction.
- Garlic. Garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties can relieve symptoms of asthma.
- Mustard oil. Rubbing this oil into the chest during an asthma attack might make it easier to breathe.
In addition, studies have shown that diets high in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats offer better asthma control.3
Yoga and breathing exercises
In many yoga practices, breathing exercises play an important role. Not only is it important to control your breath during physical activity, but it also helps center the mind and promote relaxation.
It can be helpful to focus entirely on the breath when asthma symptoms flare-up. During a yoga practice, mindfulness sessions are often incorporated. Being present and mindful may help an individual regain control of their breathing.
Stress reduction techniques
We’ve discussed how diet and environmental factors can trigger asthma, but stress can do the same. One study demonstrated that high-stress levels correlated with a higher risk of asthma attacks in children.4
The idea behind this approach is that asthma is an inflammatory disorder, and chronic stress causes inflammation.5 Therefore, managing one’s stress could be an effective way to reduce asthma symptoms. This exemplifies the holistic approach, which considers all conditions in one’s life that could contribute to their disease.
Techniques to help manage stress
Here are a few techniques that you can use to manage stress levels:
- Meditation. Sometimes, the most effective techniques are also the simplest. When practicing meditation, you can aim to distance yourself from stressful thoughts and focus entirely on the present moment. Whenever you are distracted, be patient with yourself, and return to your breath.
- Exercise. Shift your attention away from stressors by getting outside and being active. You can exercise in any way that you prefer, whether that’s going for a bike ride or a long walk.
- Massages. Book an appointment with a massage therapist or ask a friend/family member to lend you a hand. Relieving tension from sore parts of the body can help you restore a sense of wellbeing and peacefulness.
Asthma and naturopathic medicine
Many people with asthma are searching for new ways to treat this chronic condition. While holistic and naturopathic approaches have shown some efficacy in treating symptoms, it is not recommended to replace conventional treatments with naturopathic ones altogether. Instead, these techniques can be used in conjunction with traditional medications and inhalers.
Before trying a new treatment, talk to your doctor to ensure that it does not conflict with your current medication.
Has laughter ever triggered your asthma?