Herbs for asthma

vickeym Posts: 2,020 ✭✭✭✭✭

Hoping someone might have some suggestions. An elderly client of mine at our local food bank has asthma and can get pretty bad. He does not have insurance or any type of medicaid or medicare (government insurance).

He cannot afford his asthma inhalers and the local clinic will not supply anymore until he pays what he owes them. (according to what he has told me.)

Is there anything he can grow that might help? He says drinking black coffee helps some. But I am not sure what can be used for asthma. I was thinking mullien, but not sure if that is the best choice or if there are better ones for him to look into.


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,517 admin

    Mullein is a good choice for a tea to help open up those air passages.

    Coltsfoot is often used for asthma.

    Stinging nettle would help histamine response if allergies are an initiator of symptoms along with providing mineral nutrients.

    Lobelia is a top recommended asthma herb. I'm sure he'd be able to grow it, at least as an annual.

    Elecampane is a slow grower. Takes 2-3 years before you can harvest a root but it should grow in your climate.

    I see references that say Grindelia grows as far north as Alaska but maybe just to the panhandle. However, it grows in my area, so he might be able to grow it if he can find seeds.

    He can't grow licorice but maybe could afford to buy a small amount to add to his other teas. Anti-inflammatory and helps soothe the air passages.

    Garlic and onions are both good for multiple reasons but mostly as anti-inflammatories, helping to reduce airway congestion. Eating them raw is best.

  • Megan Venturella
    Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭

    Would he be able to buy something from a Chinese herbalist? My son used to have asthma, and in addition to the acupuncture, they showed me pressure points to help him and mixed up the most incredible blend of herbs to use for a steam treatment. I believe it contained ma huang in addition to lots of other herbs. It worked at least as well as an inhaler and I was able to reuse the herbs 2-3 times. They smelled great. Many community acupuncturists work on a sliding scale and are very affordable.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,020 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks @Torey This will help. I can even give him a mullein plant to get him started.

    @Megan Venturella Unfortunately, I have not found any Chinese Herbalists around here, Maybe in Anchorage but that is two hours away on a good day. He does not drive except for a 4 wheeler and lives in an old RV trailer off grid. Has a small generator for his only power source and a cell phone, but no internet signal there.

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 995 ✭✭✭✭

    My son had severe asthma as a young child. He did use an inhaler and was on steroids for a while. But there was one time he got an asthma attack the night before we were supposed to leave on a family vacation. I used a lobelia tincture, mixed it with a carrier oil and rubbed it into his chest. It worked! His breathing returned to normal, we avoided the emergency room and were able to go on vacation.

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 721 ✭✭✭✭

    Wow, that's incredible to hear. Thank you for sharing your experience. That's how Iearn best.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,020 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @annbeck62 Thank you for sharing that. I will let him know. I have to be careful since he is a client from the food bank. I cannot give him that kind of medicine myself. He has to go get his own or get it from someone else. I can get away with the mullein plant (I think) I just give him the plant, what he does with it is up to him.

    Since I am there on behalf of my job, I have to be careful what I tell people and what I do. If they try something, do it wrong and cause problems, it can cause issues not just for me but the food bank as well.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,517 admin

    @vickeym It is difficult being a herbalist or any kind of natural health practitioner and having another job that interferes with what you might be able to offer in the way of assistance. As a First Responder, when I am attending scenes, I am not allowed to do anything other than the level of first aid that I have been trained for under the agreement with BC Emergency Health Services.

    I will sometimes tell someone that they might want to go check out a health food store and see what is available for that particular injury or ailment but I am very careful about what I say. I am less cautious when it is a member of my community that I know, but still have to be careful. However, there are some people in the community that are aware that I have other skills and sometimes they phone me before they call anyone else. Then I can use everything in the "medical" bag that I carry.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,020 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 12

    I compromised on what I did. He does not have computer access or even internet as the phone signals are not good in his area. So, I printed out an article on Mullein as a tea and it's uses,

    The information will be from the site, not my recommendation. And I will give him one of my plants. What he does with it is up to him.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,361 admin

    Dang Shen or Codonopsis helps me a lot.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,020 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks @judsoncarroll4 I'll look into those as well. I know this fella is just my client and I only deliver food to him. But I feel bad knowing he is having trouble, can't afford his medicine and doesn't have access to the help he needs since he doesn't have a vehicle, lives kinda remote and has no one near in ant better shape than he is.

  • rlhcgkh
    rlhcgkh Posts: 3 ✭✭✭

    Hi Vickey -

    I know we are talking about herbs but a couple of other things he might try are:

    1. Drinking good clean water frequently throughout the day (this helps keep the airways open by reducing any phlegm);
    2. If he smokes, he should really stop immediately (cigarette smoke exacerbates asthma and other respiratory conditions);
    3. Increase his intake of vitamin C (this can be done through foods by eating frequently smaller meals including things like fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds);
    4. Increase his intake of manganese (this can be done by eating leafy green vegetables, parsley, peppermint or even nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) leaves;
    5. If you have an extra peppermint plant, give him one (he can smell the leaves, make a tea or boil water on the stove with fresh peppermint leaves to help with the air.

    The above lifestyle changes are some of the things that can help alleviate asthma. Since you are giving him things from the food bank, maybe you could focus on more fresh fruits and vegetables for him that will help boost his vitamin C.

    Hope this helps along with herbs mentioned by others.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,020 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @rlhcgkh Thank you for all the information. I bring him as much of the fresh fruit and veggies as we are able to get. My boss thankfully tries hard to get and keep fresh fruits and veggies in the pantry as often as possible.

    I don't have any peppermint growing this year but I have some chocolate mint and apple mint that I dried. Not sure if that would help him like the peppermint. Will look into it.

    As far as I know he does not smoke. Not sure how much water he drinks. Though I do know he has to haul water from the public water station a few miles down the road. The area where he lives has lots of swamps and the water quality there is not great. Will check into more as I can get him to open up to me.