Although asthma cannot be totally cured, appropriate management can control the disease and enable people to enjoy a good quality of life. Let us speak about herbs which show anti-asthmatic properties.
Many Ayurvedic herbs are used as antiasthmatics, such as Adhatoda vasica, Inula racemosa, Ocimum sanctum, Solanum xanthocarpum etc.
Acharya Charaka described ten important drugs for treatment of Asthma, such as Shati (Hedychium spicatum), Puskaramoola (Inula racemosa), Amlavatsha (Garcinia pedunculata), Elaichi (Elettaria cardamomum), Hingu (Ferula narthex), Agara (Aquilaria agallocha), Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Bhoomiamalaki (Phyllanthus urinaria), Jivanti (Leptadenia reticulata), Chanda (Angelica glauca). Acharya Sushruta also mentioned Surasadi gana (decoction of herbal oils, which should be used in drinks, massage, gargle, inhalation therapy) for treatment of Swasa.
Natural medicine provides many phytomedicines which represent a significant alternative for the management of this affection in many places around the world.
In India Solanum xanthocarpum, Indian Solanum or Kantakari is used for the management of bronchial asthma. Solanum xanthocarpum, also known as the Thai eggplant, is a medicinal herb common in Bangladesh, Nepal and India.The Thai eggplant is a variety of eggplant used in Southeast Asian cuisines. It is also cultivated in Sri Lanka and used in Sri Lankan cuisine.
In Europe Inula helenium or Elecampane, has been used since the middle ages for its expectorant properties, it is known as a stimulant to the respiratory system and has long been used to treat asthma and chronic bronchitis. Inula also contains a volatile compound, alantolactone, in the oil that has antibacterial and antifungal properties. This herb was sacred to the ancient Celts, and once had the name “elfwort”.
Pushkar mool – Sanskrit name of Inula racemosa. Pushkar mool is a powerful bronchodialator and act as anti dote of histamine. According to Ayurveda Inula racemosa is the best drug for respiratory disorders such as pluersy, chronic cough, asthma and hiccough.
In Ivory Coast traditional medicine, air-dried powdered stem bark of Dichrostachys cinerea or Veerataru is used by inhalation for the treatment of the airways affection. Scientists support the use of Dichrostachys cinerea as antiasthmatic remedy, it showed therapeutic potential for the management of asthma. In Siddha medicine of the Tamils in southern India, Dichrostachys cinerea is called vidathther and used for gonorrhea, syphilis and eczema.
Justicia adhatoda, commonly known as Malabar nut, Adulsa, Adhatoda, Vasa or Vasaka is a medicinal plant native to Asia, widely used in Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine. It is the Unofficial provincial flower of the Punjab province of Pakistan. This bush grows in all parts of the world and the bark, flowers, roots and leaves are used in medicine. Adhatoda leaves have been used extensively in Ayurvedic Medicine for over 2000 years primarily for respiratory disorders. The leaves enjoy a reputation as a useful remedy in the cure of coughs and bronchitis The main agents of the plant act as anti-asthmatic, antispasmodic and expectorant (an agent that promotes the discharge of mucous and secretions from the respiratory passages). Being a very good expectorant, it draws out all kapha(phlegm) accumulated in the lungs. In many cases where bronchitis is due to lack of appetite and poor digestion, the juice of Vasaka is mixed with the juice of ginger and honey and given in the early morning on an empty stomach.
Datura Stramonium or Thorn Apple. Smoking of Dhatura seeds as a cure for asthma was known during the Vedic period. The leaves are burnt and the fumes are inhaled to take in the antispasmodic properties of datura. Traditionally, datura leaves were rolled and smoked to improve the symptoms of asthma. This herb is mainly used as a natural home remedy for respiratory diseases like whooping cough, asthma and bronchitis. Though it is a poisonous plant still datura benefits in healing spasmodic disorders and dealing with respiratory disorders,especially asthma. The leaves, seeds, and root of this plant have medicinal value.
Other herbs, which are beneficial for asthmatic conditions:
Pimpinélla anísum Anis, Abutilon indicum Atibala, Indian Ephedra Bala, Achyranthes aspera Apamarga, Ocimum Basil, Terminalia bellirica Bibhitaki, Bamboo manna, Eclipta alba Bringraj, Glycyrrhiza glabra Licorice, Leucas aspera Polpala, Phyllanthus emblica Amalaki, Morinda Citrifolia Noni, Convolvulus pluricaulis Shankpushpi etc.
Dos and Don`ts for Astmatic people:
1. Avoid being in cold area. Use of cooler or A.C is not good for patients with Asthma.
2. Use of liquid diet is harmful in Asthma.
3. Taking water after meal is contradicted in Asthma.
4. Using ghee after meal gives relief to the patients with Asthma.
5. Taking of Godhum Shali rice is useful in Asthma.
6. Taking polluted water enhances Asthma.
7. Taking fish as food is harmful in Asthma.
8. Use of Elephant foot yam is not good for patients with Asthma.
9. Use of honey gives good result in Asthma.
10. Taking rough, cold and heavy diet aggravates Asthma.
11. Dust is the enemy for the patients with Asthma.
12. Walking with heavy luggage is not good for the Asthma patients.
13. Keeping a sufficient gap between meals and sleep is necessary for Asthma patients.
14. Suppress the urge of urination, defecation, thirst and cough increases the intensity of Asthma.
15. Asthma patients should avoid walking too much.
16. Asthma patients should do fomentation on chest when the disease troubles them.
17. Sleeping at day time helps the patients with Asthma.
18. Use of cold water is harmful in Asthma.
19. Taking bath with cold water in Asthma enhances its intensity.
Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways affecting a large percentage of people all over the world. Although wide ranges of drugs are available, the relief is mainly symptomatic and short lived. The available treatment options have major limitations owing to adverse effects. Herbs/Plants are always an ideal source of drugs. In the ancient times, traditional drugs of plant origin were used for the treatment of various diseases. As from various experimental and clinical studies, a number of Ayurvedic herbs have been reported that help in preventing asthmatic attacks without any side effects and gradually helps in recovering from asthma. So in this review paper, various such herbs with significant antiasthmatic activity are described.