|3 natural 'prescriptions' for asthma relief
It's easy to take breathing for granted, but if you have asthma,
breathing doesn't always come easy. For natural relief, consider the
herb ginkgo, the spice turmeric, or magnesium - a vital mineral.
Breathe comfortably with ginkgo. For more than a millennium,
people in Asia have looked to the ginkgo tree as a source of healing.
In recent years, scientists have discovered how ginkgo can make
breathing more comfortable for people with asthma.
The same substance that causes your blood to clot when you get
a cut can trigger an asthma attack. It's called PAF or platelet activating factor. PAF can cause allergic responses, including bronchospasms. This sudden narrowing of the main air passages from the
windpipe to the lungs may feel like a tightening or squeezing in your
chest, and breathing becomes difficult. Ginkgo can prevent this by
Ginkgo biloba extract, sometimes called GBE or GBX, is sold as
an herbal supplement in health food stores. You can get it in liquid
form or as tablets or capsules.
The extract should he 24 percent flavoglycosides, 10 percent of
which should he quercetin. It should also contain 6 percent terpenoids. Look on the label for the words "tannin-free" and "50:1
concentrate." The 50:1 ratio means it took 50 pounds of leaves to
produce 1 pound of extract.
The recommended dosage is 40 milligrams (mg) taken three
times a day. You may have to take the supplement for four to six
weeks before you notice any effects.
No serious side effects have been reported, but some people
experience headaches or mild digestive problems.
Tame wheezing with turmeric. The plant curcuma longa grows
wild in Java, but you probably have some of the spice that comes
from its tuber-like rhizomes in your pantry.
The spice is turmeric, a main ingredient of curry powder. It's the
pigment in turmeric, called curcumin, that gives curry its yellow
color. This pigment, according to researchers from the Nihon
University School of Medicine in Tokyo, can also help prevent asthma attacks. The curcumin curbs the release of substances that cause
the symptoms of asthma, like wheezing and chest-tightening.
Although the study didn't specify a certain amount, the usual
dose of turmeric for other conditions is 1.5 to 3 grams daily. You can
get supplements in capsule or liquid form at health food stores. There
are no known side effects from turmeric except occasional stomach
upsets after prolonged use. If you have gallstones or a blockage of the
bile duct, you shouldn't use it.
Stop muscle spasms with magnesium. Avocado, sunflower
seeds, and pinto beans contain a lot of magnesium, which may help
your lungs fight the muscle spasms of asthma attacks. In fact, doctors
sometimes treat asthma with magnesium sulfate.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium is
320 mg for women over 30 and 420 mg for men over 30. Supplements are available,
but your body can absorb the mineral better if you get it naturally from food. Nuts, legumes, seafood, and dark
green vegetables are good sources of magnesium. Since it is easily lost
during washing, peeling, and processing, choose fresh or minimally
When it comes to magnesium, moderation is the key word. Too
much can make you very sick, causing nausea, vomiting, or even
paralysis or death. Getting too much magnesium from the foods you
eat is usually not a problem. But magnesium is a main ingredient in
some over-the-counter medication, including laxatives and antacids.
If you regularly consume large amounts of these drugs, you may
be poisoning yourself. Check the label on any medication you are