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Herbs for Asthma Management

You can find hundreds of herbal products online that claim to relieve asthma symptoms. But do they actually work, or are they too good to be true?

Herbs have been used for thousands for medicinal purposes, and now research is confirming the benefits of many of them. Many work by decreasing inflammation, boosting the immune system and promoting the body’s ability to heal.

However, do not assume that everything natural is 100% safe. While herbs have an excellent safety profile and generally speaking are well tolerated (as long as you take the recommended dose) they can trigger allergic reactions in some individuals. If you have food or environmental allergies you should use them cautiously.

Herbs can also interfere with prescription drugs, influencing absorption and augmenting or reducing their efficacy. Finally, herbal products are not evaluated by the FDA for safety and efficacy, so you should buy your products only from a reputable, high-quality brand.

The following herbs have been researched in scientific studies and have been shown to have benefits for asthmatics. Always check with your doctor before you start taking any herbal medicine.

1. Boswellia

Also known as salai guggal or Indian frankincense, boswellia is one of the most popular herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used for thousands of years for various health concerns including asthma, arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Boswellia can help decrease frequency of asthma attacks and improve the function of the lungs, according to a randomized controlled study conducted over a six-week period. It also appears to help improve the efficacy of some prescription drugs, including leukotriene modifier.

The active ingredient in the herb, called boswellic acid, helps decrease inflammation and inhibit 5-lipooxygenase (5-LO), an enzyme that produces leukotriene. Leukotrienes are substances that make the bronchial muscles contract.

Boswellia should be used cautiously if you take cholesterol lowering medication or anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant you should not use this herb as it increases blood flow in the uterus and making miscarriage more likely.

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