You have probably heard about many natural remedies for asthma, but do they really work? Due to the non-availability of a lasting cure in modern medicine, natural remedies for chronic diseases like asthma are quite popular.
Most of these remedies are harmless and even if they don’t improve your asthma, they will probably improve your health in other ways. Although a large number of people vouch for some of these remedies, medical evidence to verify their effectiveness is lacking. Here are five natural techniques and remedies that you can try out to complement your prescribed treatment.
1. Calm your mind
Asthma attacks are often triggered due to stress, fear or emotional outbursts like laughing or crying. It is impossible to eliminate emotions altogether or control an asthma attack with your mind. However, you can definitely avoid negative moods and emotions like stress, fear and panic from triggering an attack or making it worse. Knowing how to keep calm during an asthma attack makes it easier to deal with. This comes with practice and there are several techniques to help you learn it. Practice them regularly to experience the benefits.
a) Self-awareness and mediation
The human mind has a tendency to dwell on past experiences and future possibilities. If left uncontrolled, it will rarely remain in the present. People often find themselves thinking about and regretting bad decisions of the past or worrying about their future. Meditation breaks this obsession by bringing you into the present. It also allows you to become aware of what is happening inside your body and mind at the moment.
In theory, meditation can be practiced anywhere, but it’s best to do it when you are free and are unlikely to be disturbed. Sit in a comfortable relaxed position and direct your awareness inside your body. Become aware of and observe the sensations inside your body, starting from your head and moving gradually to your toes. If you don’t find any sensations to observe or if they die out, focus on and observe your breathing. If thoughts disturb you, just observe them without thinking about them until they fade away. Regular practice of meditation will help you maintain your calm and improve your concentration.
b) Deep breathing
Most people use only a fraction of their lung capacity. This is due to shallow breathing. You might have noticed that when you breathe normally, you don’t empty your lungs when you exhale. A significant portion of the air is still retained in the lungs. Due to this, the fresh air you can inhale during the next breathing cycle is limited and far below your actual lung capacity. This makes you breathe more rapidly. Rapid and shallow breathing is often associated with stress, anxiety and hyperventilation. Learning the deep breathing technique improves your lung health, lung capacity and reduces stress.
Before you try this technique, there are a few caveats. First, don’t do this when you have asthma symptoms because it can become worse. Do this only if you have sufficient time and you should not do it immediately after eating. Check with your doctor because in some people, altering the breathing pattern can bring on an asthma attack. Before doing this exercise, clear your nose to remove any obstruction.
Sit in a comfortable position. Inhale through the nose at a slow and steady pace until your lungs are full. Your abdomen will expand as your inhale. Next, exhale slowly through your nose and watch as your abdomen relaxes completely. When your lungs are empty, no more air will come out. Repeat this about five times. You can do this exercise a couple of times in a day. You can also take an occasional deep breath when you take a break during your daily activities.
2. Learn and practice yoga
Yoga is an ancient Indian relaxation and meditation technique. Although the goal of yoga goes far beyond achieving good health, it is now widely acknowledged as a beneficial technique that calms the mind, improves body flexibility and health. Breathing exercises called “pranayama” are a part of yoga. The deep breathing technique described previously is just the first and most basic breathing technique of pranayama.
There is no conclusive medical proof that yoga helps people with asthma, but several studies have found that asthma patients who practice it suffer from fewer asthma flare-ups. This could be due to its ability to reduce stress and the improve lung function. Yoga was never meant to be a do-it-yourself method. You must learn it under the guidance and supervision of a qualified yoga teacher.
3. Herbal medicines and natural supplements
Herbal medicines or supplements should never be tried without the permission of your doctor. Herbal medicines can have side-effects and some medicines may trigger an allergic reaction in some people. Herbal medicines may also interfere with the working of your asthma medicines.
Studies have found that some herbal medicines fight inflammation. However, their effect on asthma patients is not fully understood. One such medicine is the evening primrose oil. It is available in capsules and contains a fatty acid called GLA, which the body converts into substances that reduce inflammation. Colorful vegetables get their color due to the presence of compounds called bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids may reduce allergy and inflammation. Quercetin, a popular bioflavonoid, is believed to block the production of histamine.
4. Weight reduction
If you are overweight or obese, losing weight may give you immediate benefits. When you are carrying excess weight, your heart and lungs have to work that much harder. Weight is an important thing to focus on because many standard asthma medicines cause weight gain as a side-effect. Discuss with your doctor to see which weight loss methods are safe in your case. Always check with your doctor before you make any changes to your diet or exercise regimen.
5. Steam inhalation
Heat and moisture work well for many asthma patients. Steam may help expand the airways and also loosen phlegm so that it can be easily coughed up and eliminated. Steam inhalation may solve the problem if you are experiencing a mild breathing difficulty. It cannot on its own be used for acute asthma.
You can inhale steam using a steam inhaler or a nebulizer. A steam bath will produce similar effects. Sipping warm water or hot beverages can also help. Be careful with the temperature because too much heat can also be a problem. There is also the risk of getting scalded.
There are many natural remedies for asthma, but not all of them are safe or effective for everyone. There is no evidence backed up by rigorous studies to confirm the effectiveness of most natural remedies. You can try natural methods as a compliment to the line of treatment given by your doctor. Always check with your doctor before trying anything new and stick to your asthma action plan. Learn more at https://twitter.com/EbenGreenHomes.