Background on Asthma

Asthma Inhaler

Warning Signs of Asthma

Alternative Strategies

Different Cultures Remedies

Information on Herbal Remedies

Medical Herbs And Elements


By: Jennifer Loleit, Jaime Moore, Jesse Cuaron

Background Information Concerning Asthma:

            The word asthma is Greek, and generally in the past, it is said: “The lungs suffer and the parts which assist respiration sympathize with them.”  Thus, a more modern definition of asthma is the condition in which there are episodes of breathing difficulty due to widespread narrowing of the airways of the lungs. 

The narrowing of the airways can be caused by three main factors, which include swelling of the airway lining, mucus in the airway, and/or spasm of the muscle in the airway walls. 

Asthma affects people of all ages and races, occurring differently from patient to patient.  This implies that asthma is a threat to various people, especially since it can be potentially life-threatening due to the attacks of wheezing and coughing due to the spasms of the bronchi within the lungs.

 “Asthma is broken down to two basic types, intrinsic and extrinsic.” 

Intrinsic asthma is caused by internal factors, while extrinsic asthma is caused by reactions to allergies and other factors, which involves the direct environment that surrounds a person.  Yet, even with these two terms, research shows that terms are to be used loosely, due to the fact that the specific data for each of these terms is not substantial.  Even with the little knowledge known about asthma, it is known for certain that asthma is not contagious, as well as the fact that a person has an increased risk at getting asthma if someone else in their family has it or has had it, thus possibly passing it down to later generations within the family. 

Warning Signs of Asthma:

                Not being able to finish a long sentence without     drawing an extra breath.

                 Not breathing properly, thus breathing with several accessory muscles instead of breathing with the sole muscles of your diaphragm.


                 Anxiety (thus with breathing in particular)

                 Pain in back, breastbone, abdomen, and/or ribs, thus giving an overall hunched look.

                 Rapid pulse.


NOTE:  Having one or more o these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have asthma!


Different cultures of the world, and their herbal asthma remedies:

                Past German herbalist and/or healers practiced an indirect method that would hopefully control asthma attacks.   First, the patients were frightened and then instructed to breathe in and out slowly.  Next, the herbalists and/or healers tried to divert blood from the heart by bathing the arms of he patient while also applying a cloth briefly dipped into hot lemon balm tea or hot hayflower extract over the general heart area of the patient.

           In the port city of Amalfi, Italy, a delightful aroma of lemon is everywhere and the inhabitants have used these lemons and limes as  well as an asthma remedy.  This was done by diluting lemon juice with cold water every morning and drinking it when one awoke.  The patient would also have to drink this juice between meals of one teaspoon of undiluted lime juice.

            In Japan, practitioners must massage several points of the upper back to ease asthma.  These asthma patients should also have their whole back massaged.  Also, any other easily reached trigger point should be massaged and slashed or tapped accordingly to ease the specific patient’s type of asthma.  Trigger points would include the sides of the nostrils and the chest.

           The Egyptians used rare garlic and garlic juice to heal asthma related coughs.  Sometimes, processed carrots and beets were added to the juice for a better overall drink.

           The Russians used a water sipping remedy to halt oncoming asthma attacks.  The patient was told to breath slowly and to be aware of the need to breath deliberately.  In between breaths, the patient was asked to sip to glasses of tepid water.  This remedy was to take about half an hour.

Medicinal herbs and some of their respective elements that are used to control and/or ease asthma:


Bee Pollen                                Detura                                      Mistletoe

            Black Cohosh                           Ephedra                                   Mullein

            Brigham Tea                             Ginseng                                    Myrrh

            Camomile                                 Golden Seal                              Nettle

            Cayenne                                   Horseradish                              Parsley

            Chaparral                                 Hyssop                                     Pleurisy Root

            Chickweed                               Licorice                                    Saw Palmetto

            Chlorophyll                               Lobelia                                     Slippery Elm

            Comfrey                                   Marshmallow                            Thyme

                                                                                                             Wood Betony




Asthma Inhaler:

This type of inhaler can be used for all types of asthma medication.  The drug is dissolved in a mixture of organic solvents and sealed under pressure in a small canister.

The most important reason in inhaling medicines, of course is to deliver the treatment directly to the part of the body in need, thus being within the blocked airways.  An improvement can be achieved with a smaller dose of inhaled medication than that required in a single tablet.  With this tenfold difference, there is much less chance of causing unwanted side effects. 

Alternative Strategies For Treating Asthma Include:

·        Acupuncture

·        Chiropractic

·        Herbal Medicine

·        Hypnosis

·        Osteopathy


In this case, we are trying to investigate the overall effects of herbal medicine.  Although many herbal remedies have thought to be found, and thus be effective against asthma, it has been found out only a few of these herbal remedies are effective.  This is due to the lack of real knowledge and research on these potential asthma treating plants.  As for the herbs that have been found to contain chemicals to help with asthma, it is uncertain about the quantity and quality of the risks which may involve side effects and other overall safety standards for the patient at hand.    

More Information on Herbal Asthma Remedies:

Perennial Sow thistles

Common Mullein

Jimson Weed

Butterfly Weed


Cow Parsnip

Evening Primrose



Red Clover

Wild Licorice

White Mulberry

Maidenhair Fern



  Buchman, Dian D.  (1996). Ancient Healing Secrets.  Owings Mills: Ottenheimer Publishers, Inc.

  Buchman, Dian D. (1979). Herbal Medicine “The Natural Way to Get Well and Stay Well”.  New York : David Mckay Company, Inc.

  Duke, James A., Foster, Steven.  (1990).  A Field Guide To Medicinal Plants. Boston :   Houghton Mifflin Company.  June 4

Kershaw, Linda. (2000). Edible & Medicinal Plants of the Rockies Renton , WA : Lone Pine Publishing. 

  Lane, Donald J.  (1996).  Asthma. New York : Oxford University Press.

  Moore, Michael.  (1979).  Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.  Sante Fe: Museum of  New Mexico Press.

  Royal, Penny C. (1982). Herbally Yours.  Provo : SOUND NUTRTION.

  Wray, Betty B. (1998). Taking Charge of Asthma “An Alternative Strategy”. Toronto :  John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Last updated 07/21/04
For more information contact Dr. Mary O'Connell at
Return to Diseases with Plant Pharmacopeia Index