Try These Home Remedies for Asthma

Cup of coffee on floral table cloth
Boris Jovanovic/Stocksy United

With the idea of natural medicine becoming ever more popular, I am commonly asked about the safety and effectiveness of a number of home remedies for asthma.

All of these treatments try to improve asthma symptoms, such as:

It is important to realize that none of these treatments will cure asthma, but some may help you get your asthma under control.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been practiced for many years and involves both herbal products and mind-body exercise in treatment.

Research with a number of different formulations of herbs such as Radix glycyrrhizate, Radix sophorae flavescentis, and Ganoderma have demonstrated improvements in measurable asthma outcomes such as FEV1 and peak flow. The only problem with much of the research showing improvements in asthma outcomes is that the treatments were not added to best current care available. If you want to experiment with any herbs for your asthma, make sure you talk with your doctor first.

Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic medicine for asthma generally involves the use of herbs that have anti-inflammatory or bronchodilatory properties. Tylophora indic is found naturally in forests and sandy areas of India. Randomized controlled trials showed improvement in asthma symptoms, but also side effects including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and loss of taste.

Picrorhiza kurro is another widely used Ayurvedic medicine that has anti-inflammatory properties.

Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash.

It is important to realize most Ayurvedic medicine products are not regulated by the FDA and risk of side effects is real. Shwasa sanjeevani is an Ayurvedic herbal medicine some people have used for asthma and a number of other respiratory conditions.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency warns that this product contains undeclared dexamethasone as part of its ingredients. As a systemic steroid, it has a number of side effects, including increased blood pressure and bone problems. A patient presented to their doctor with mild weight gain and increasing facial hair that prompted an investigation that involved testing of Shwasa sanjeevani and determined the presence of the steroid.

Other Ayurvedic medicines used in asthma include:

  • Boswellia serrata gum resin

  • Solanum xanthocarpum

Breathing Techniques

Buteyko breathing exercises have been around for a long time. The idea is that you can gain control over your asthma by retraining how you breathe. Developed by Ukrainian physician Konstantin P. Buteyko, he believed that asthmatics breathe too quickly, leading to low carbon dioxide levels and resultant inflammation and bronchoconstriction. Buteyko breathing has been shown to improve a number of different asthma outcomes.


Caffeine is the main stimulant found in coffee, soda, and a number of popular energy drinks.

It is also similar to the asthma drug theophylline, which acts as a bronchodilator. Small amounts of caffeine have been noted to cause bronchodilation for up to four hours. The effect is thought to be significant enough that you might want to avoid caffeinated products before pulmonary function testing. However, in terms of regular treatment more study is needed. It may be that you would need some much caffeine that side effects would outweigh the benefits.


In Spain, it I widely believed that if you cut asthma in two and leave it by your bedside you are able to inhale vapors that improve asthma symptoms such as a cough. There are also descriptions of onion syrup made from a mixture of onion, sugar, vinegar, and water. Despite thousands of pages on the internet supporting the claim, onions can improve your asthma, I do not find this supported by the scientific evidence.

Chilli Peppers

While workers making chili pepper spices are known to be at risk for occupational asthma, chili peppers contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, the spicy foods may increase secretions and help clear mucus that is part of the pathophysiology of asthma. Animal studies have demonstrated that chili peppers decreased inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness. The only human study I find demonstrated its effectiveness in the treatment of allergic rhinitis.


This home remedy for asthma falls into the prevention category and can be especially helpful if you have pets. Covering air conditioning vents with a material like cheesecloth can help trap dander, dust, and other asthma triggers from being transported into your bedroom via the air conditioning vents.

1. Welsh EJ, Bara A, Barley E, Cates CJ. Caffeine for asthma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD001112. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001112.pub2
2. Singh BB, Khorsan R, Vinjamury SR et. al. Herbal Treatments of Asthma: A Systematic Review. Journal of Asthma,44:685–698, 2007.
3. A. Martı´nez-Gimeno. Onions, myths, beliefs, fashion and reality in asthma. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2009;37(6):309–313

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