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Dipal Patel*1, Dr. Kamal Singh Rathore1, Dr. O.P.Mahatma1, Twinkal Patel2
1B.N. Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Udaipur (Rajasthan), 313001
2Shree Sarvajanik College of Pharmacy, Mahesana (Gujarat).

Asthma is a respiratory disease that affects both adults and children and asthma is today one of the most common chronic childhood ailments. There is no scientifically proven cure for asthma but it can be controlled and regulated. Natural treatments for asthma are meant to complement, or as an addition, to your existing medication but never as a replacement. Before using an herbal asthma remedy keep in mind that medicinal herbs can be as powerful as pharmaceutical drugs and should be treated as such so it is important to seek the support of your health care provider as some natural herbs for asthma treatment may conflict with pharmaceuticals commonly prescribed for asthma.

Medicinal Herbs Used For Asthma Treatment, Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)-The Licorice root has been used traditionally to restore breathing and calm the breathing passageways. Adhatoda (Adhatoda vasica)- The leaf has been used for centuries to treat asthma where it works as a bronchodilator and mild expectorant. Adhatoda also works by decreasing the viscosity of mucous to assist with expectoration. Key constituents of adhatoda leaf are the quinazoline alkaloids (0.5–2%). The major alkaloid is vasicine present at levels of 45–95% and is the original source of the drug bromhexine, which is often still used to assist expectoration. Ginkgo Biloba (Ginkgo biloba)-One of the oldest herbs in use today, ginkgo has a broad range of indications. For asthma sufferers, ginkgo works to inhibit PAF (platelet activating factor), a powerful inducer of platelet aggregator and anaphylactic reactions. Natural Herbs that stimulate anti-PAF activity are known to assist in the treatment of asthma, allergic reactions, thrombosis and shock. One study showed that a 600mg standardised dose of ginkgo reduced airway hypersensitivity in patients with asthma. Turmeric (Curcuma longa-)In an uncontrolled trial in India, 60% of asthma patients given 6-12grams of turmeric powder that had been fryed in ghee showed a relief in their symptoms. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory in both acute and chronic conditions, and it is believed to work in a variety of biological pathways to reduce inflammation. Chinese Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)-The root of this plant has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for a variety of conditions including asthma. Chinese skullcap contains flavone derivatives including baicalin, wogonin and baicalein which inhibit histamine release from mast cells in vitro. Baicalin showed antiasthmatic activity (antihistaminic and anticholinergic activity) in isolated tracheal muscle from asthmatic guinea pigs. Reducing hypesensitivity and inflammation in airways is vital to managing asthma. Other natural herbs that have been used for asthma treatment, Ephedra (Ephedra sinica),Garlic- (Allium sativum),Red Clover- (Trifolium pratense),Coleus- (Coleus barbatus),Echinacea- (Echinacea angustifolia),Skullcap- (Scutellaria lateriflora).Great Mullein- (Verbascum thapsus), Picrorhiza Kurroa- (Picrorhiza kurroa), Lobelia- (Lobelia inflata) etc. used in recently.


Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways of the lungs. During normal breathing, the bands of muscle that surround the airways are relaxed and air moves freely. During an asthma episode or “attack,” there are three main changes that stop air from moving easily through the airways:

Fig.: Alveoli

  • The bands of muscle that surround the airways tighten and make the airways narrow. This tightening is called bronchospasm.
  • The lining of the airways becomes swollen or inflamed.
  • The cells that line the airways produce more mucus, which is thicker than normal.

These three factors - bronchospasm, inflammation, and mucus production - cause symptoms such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, and coughing.

Symptoms of asthma
Asthma symptoms are not the same for everyone. They can even change from episode to episode in the same person. Also, you may have only one symptom of asthma, such as cough, but another person may have all the symptoms of asthma. It is important to know all the symptoms of asthma and to be aware that your asthma can present in any of these ways at any time.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness, pain, or pressure

Fig.:  Figure A shows the location of the lungs and airways in the body. Figure B shows a cross-section of a normal airway. Figure C shows a cross-section of an airway during asthma symptoms.

Fig.: Bronchoconstriction to Airway Inflammation

Causes of asthma
The airways in a person with asthma are very sensitive and react to many things, or “triggers.” Contact with these triggers causes asthma symptoms. One of the most important parts of asthma control is to identify your triggers and then avoid them when possible. The only trigger you do not want to avoid is exercise. Pre-treatment with medicines before exercise can allow you to stay active yet avoid asthma symptoms.

Common asthma triggers include:

  • Allergens (dust mites, pollens, pets, mold spores, cockroaches, and sometimes foods)
  • Exercise
  • Infections (colds, viruses, flu, sinus infections)
  • Irritants (strong odors from cleaning products, perfume, wood smoke, air pollution)
  • Some medications
  • Strong emotions such as crying or laughing hard
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Weather (changes in temperature and/or humidity, cold air)

Diagnosis of asthma
To diagnose asthma, your doctor will first review your medical history, family history, and symptoms. Your doctor will want to know any past history of breathing problems you may have had, as well as a family history of asthma, allergies, eczema (a bumpy, itchy skin rash caused by allergies), or other lung disease. It is important that you describe your symptoms in detail (cough, wheeze, shortness of breath, chest tightness), including when and how often they occur.

The doctor will perform a physical examination and listen to your heart and lungs. He or she may also order breathing tests, allergy tests, blood tests, and chest and sinus X-rays. The tests will find out if you do have asthma and if there are any other conditions that are contributing factors.

Treatment of asthma
Asthma can be controlled, but not cured. It is not normal to have frequent symptoms, trouble sleeping, or trouble completing tasks. Appropriate asthma care will prevent symptoms and visits to the emergency room and hospital. Asthma medicines are one of the mainstays of asthma treatment. The drugs used to treat asthma are explained below.

- Anti-inflammatory: These are the most important drugs for most people with asthma. Anti-inflammatory drugs reduce swelling and mucus production in the airways. As a result, airways are less sensitive and less likely to react to triggers. These medications need to be taken daily and may need to be taken for several weeks before they begin to control asthma. Anti-inflammatory medicines lead to fewer symptoms, better airflow, less sensitive airways, less airway damage, and fewer asthma attacks. If taken every day, they CONTROL or prevent asthma symptoms.

- Bronchodilators: These drugs relax the muscle bands that tighten around the airways. This action opens the airways, letting more air in and out of the lungs and improving breathing. Bronchodilators also help clear mucus from the lungs. As the airways open, the mucus moves more freely and can be coughed out more easily. In short-acting forms, bronchodilators RELIEVE or stop asthma symptoms by quickly opening the airways and are very helpful during an asthma episode. In long-acting forms, bronchodilators provide CONTROL of asthma symptoms and prevent asthma episodes.

- Asthma drugs can be taken in a variety of ways. Inhaling the medications—by using a metered dose inhaler, dry powder inhaler, or nebulizer—is one way of taking asthma medicines. Oral medicines (pills or liquids you swallow) may also be prescribed.

Asthma severity
Asthma is classified as either “intermittent” (comes and goes) or “persistent” (lasting). Persistent asthma is further described as being mild, moderate, or severe. The severity of asthma is based on how often you have symptoms both during the day and night, as well as by the results of lung function tests and by how well you can perform activities. The “severity” of asthma refers to how “intense” or “strong” your asthma.


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