Combining asthma medication with dietary adjustments and self-care tactics might alleviate severe asthma symptoms.

Asthma is a condition that impacts lung function, leading to breathing difficulties and challenges in physical exertion. During an asthma episode, airways undergo swelling, muscles tighten, and mucus accumulates, often resulting in coughing and chest tightness.

If you’re interested in exploring natural approaches to alleviate symptoms, here’s an overview of 14 complementary therapies backed by research that you might consider for managing your asthma.

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Food | Breathing exercises | Mental strategies | Other therapies | Takeaway


While there’s no specific diet tailored for individuals with asthma, certain nutrients and foods have been identified to potentially alleviate symptoms:

1. Beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E

Excess weight or obesity heightens the risk for asthma and can exacerbate symptoms. It’s crucial to uphold a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

These foods serve as excellent sources of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, known to potentially mitigate inflammation around the airways.

If you notice a flare-up in asthma symptoms post-consumption of specific foods, it’s advisable to steer clear of them. It’s possible that you have a food allergy triggering the worsening of symptoms. Consulting with your doctor can help confirm this and provide guidance.

2. The gut microbiome

Recent research indicates a potential link between asthma and the gut microbiome, suggesting that an imbalance of beneficial bacteria in the gut could exacerbate asthma symptoms.

Introducing probiotics into your diet might help alleviate inflammation associated with asthma. A 2021 study demonstrated that combining probiotics with conventional asthma treatment led to symptom improvement.

Probiotics can be sourced from various fermented foods, including:

  • Yogurt or kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Kombucha

Certain cheeses also contain probiotics, and while probiotic supplements are an option, obtaining probiotics from dietary sources is often preferred.

3. Garlic

Garlic is known to offer various health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, as indicated by research. Given that asthma involves inflammation, garlic may potentially aid in alleviating symptoms.

A 2019 study observed that garlic extracts notably diminished the count of inflammatory cells and eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in laboratory mice. This reduction appeared to correlate with a decrease in bronchial inflammation.

However, it’s important to note that conclusive evidence regarding garlic’s effectiveness in preventing asthma flare-ups is still lacking.

4. Ginger

Ginger, another herb renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, holds potential in alleviating severe asthma symptoms. One of its key compounds, 6-gingerol, has demonstrated a capacity to reduce allergic lung inflammation, as evidenced by studies conducted on mice.

These studies targeted lung inflammation triggered by a dust mite allergy, a common asthma inducer.

Moreover, research indicates that ginger might aid in relaxing the trachea and airway muscles. Additionally, it may decrease mechanical ventilation duration for individuals experiencing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). However, it’s noteworthy that ongoing clinical trials are investigating the efficacy of ginger in asthma treatment among human subjects.

5. Honey

Honey is often utilized in cold remedies for its throat-soothing properties and its ability to reduce coughing. Mixing honey with a hot beverage like herbal tea can be beneficial in alleviating symptoms.

A 2019 study revealed that honey could enhance breathing and lung function in individuals with asthma, particularly when combined with other remedies like cumin. However, the research did not establish conclusive evidence supporting the efficacy of honey when used alone.

Scientific data regarding honey’s suitability as an alternative asthma treatment remains limited.

6. Omega-3 oils

Omega-3 oils, present in foods such as fish and flax seeds, offer numerous health advantages and have been linked to reduced airway inflammation, potentially enhancing lung function, especially in individuals with severe asthma.

However, studies suggest that individuals undergoing high doses of oral steroids for managing asthma symptoms might not experience significant benefits from consuming omega-3 through dietary sources or fish oil supplements. This is because steroids inhibit the favorable effects of omega-3 oils.

Before increasing your intake of omega-3, it’s advisable to consult with your doctor to ensure compatibility with your asthma treatment plan.

7. Caffeine

Caffeine serves as a bronchodilator, facilitating the opening of air passages into the lungs, and can also mitigate respiratory muscle fatigue.

A recent 2022 study indicated that consuming between 0.5 to 3 cups of coffee or tea daily could potentially lower the risk of developing adult-onset asthma. Additionally, maintaining caffeine intake within the range of 160 to 305 milligrams (mg) per day was associated with decreased likelihood of adult asthma onset.

Similarly, a 2020 study conducted in a Korean population revealed that consuming 1 to 2 cups of coffee daily might reduce the risk of developing asthma, particularly among women. However, no comparable association was observed between asthma and other caffeinated beverages such as green tea or soda.

Breathing exercises

Several different breathing exercises may help relieve symptoms of asthma. These include:

8. Buteyko Breathing Technique

The Buteyko Breathing Technique (BBT) comprises a series of breathing exercises emphasizing nasal breathing over mouth breathing. Mouth breathing can dry out the airways and increase their sensitivity.

Although there’s no scientifically backed evidence supporting the notion that BBT reduces the necessity for asthma medication, it may effectively alleviate asthma symptoms by promoting slow and gentle breathing.

Some individuals may experience fewer respiratory infections with regular practice of BBT. Additionally, proponents of BBT suggest that it elevates carbon dioxide levels in the body, but conclusive evidence supporting this theory is lacking.

9. Papworth method

The Papworth method, a breathing and relaxation technique utilized since the 1960s for asthma management, focuses on nasal breathing and diaphragmatic breathing to establish beneficial breathing patterns. These patterns can be applied to activities that might trigger asthma symptoms.

Research suggests that this breathing exercise can enhance lung function and breathing in individuals with asthma. However, further research is warranted to fully ascertain the benefits of the Papworth method and other breathing modalities.

Typically, a training course is advised before incorporating these exercises into your daily regimen.

10. Yoga

Yoga integrates stretching and breathing exercises to enhance flexibility and overall fitness. For many individuals, engaging in yoga practice can alleviate stress, a common trigger for asthma.

Research indicates that individuals trained in yoga may encounter fewer asthma attacks and demonstrate improved results in breathing assessments.

A meta-analysis conducted in 2023, encompassing 15 studies, further supported the positive impact of yogic breathing techniques on mild-to-moderate asthma.

Mental strategies

Research indicates that asthma can be triggered not only by physical and environmental factors but also by psychological ones such as stress, anxiety, or depression. Exploring various methods of mental grounding or psychological treatment might assist in reducing asthma flare-ups in certain cases.

11. Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy utilizes hypnosis to induce a state of deep relaxation and receptiveness to new patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. It may also aid in promoting muscle relaxation, potentially assisting individuals with asthma in managing symptoms such as chest tightness.

This aligns with findings from a 2021 study on hypnotherapy, which suggested that individuals experiencing asthma triggered by psychological factors may find relief in symptoms through this treatment.

12. Mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness, a form of meditation that centers on the present moment and the connection between mind and body, can be practiced virtually anywhere.

All you require is a quiet space to sit, close your eyes, and direct your attention to the thoughts, emotions, and sensations within your body.

Due to its stress-alleviating properties, mindfulness has the potential to complement prescription medication and alleviate stress-related asthma symptoms.

However, research suggests that while mindfulness practices may not directly alleviate the physical symptoms of asthma, they can enhance one’s ability to manage and perceive these symptoms in daily life.

Although some studies on the impact of mindfulness on asthma remain inconclusive, further research is necessary to substantiate any definitive connections.

Other alternative therapies

There’s some evidence that acupuncture and speleotherapy may help reduce asthma symptom severity.

13. Acupuncture

Acupuncture, a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, involves the insertion of small needles into specific points on the body. Some individuals with asthma report that acupuncture can enhance airflow and help manage symptoms like chest discomfort.

A 2017 study indicated that incorporating acupuncture into one’s daily regimen might enhance quality of life for individuals with allergic asthma.

Additionally, a 2015 study comparing acupuncture with traditional asthma treatments revealed that participants who underwent acupuncture experienced greater improvements in immune system function and lung function tests compared to those using only traditional asthma medications.

Nevertheless, the long-term efficacy of acupuncture in treating asthma has yet to be definitively established. Further research is needed to determine its sustained benefits.

14. Speleotherapy

Speleotherapy, a form of dry salt therapy, entails spending time in a salt room where tiny salt particles are introduced into the respiratory system.

a study conducted in 2018 focusing on asthma in children discovered that after four weeks of speleotherapy, symptoms appeared to improve, along with reductions in levels of nitric oxide, a marker for asthma-related inflammation.

Similarly, a 2020 study suggested that combining speleotherapy with winter exercise or sports could potentially decrease asthma symptoms.


Indeed, while natural approaches may offer relief for some asthma symptoms, it’s imperative to consult your doctor before attempting any new treatments or techniques.

Your doctor may advise continuing your regular asthma medications and may adjust dosages, especially if your asthma is severe. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations and guidance for managing your asthma effectively.

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Food | Breathing exercises | Mental strategies | Other therapies | Takeaway

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