7 Herbs for Asthma


Sean Donahue, Herbalist

Asthma is a condition that troubles many people in this country, but it can often be effectively eased by the use of natural plant medicines. Kiva and I have sought to address the problem both in Plant Healer Magazine, and in a class taught at our annual classes and celebration The Traditions In Western Herbalism Conference by the increasingly popular herbalist teacher Sean Donahue. A detailed essay and notes from that class and many others are available on Amazon in the newly released book Traditions in Western Herbalism, but we also want to share the helpful wisdom with all of you here. Sean tells us:

“From a purely physiological standpoint, asthma is a misfiring of the immune response within the respiratory tract. When the body perceives a threat, the inflammatory aspect of the immune system gears up to heal any potential injuries. In someone with asthma, that aspect of the immune system in the respiratory tract  is on a hair trigger alert, and any perceived threat — an infection, an allergen, or emotional stress can kick it into high gear, releasing inflammatory cytokines and histamines at levels far above normal. This in turn causes the mucous membranes to swell up and the smooth muscles of the airway to spasm. Over time this exaggerated immune response can cause damage to bronchial tissue, which in turn exacerbates the response because the body now also has a real set of injuries to respond to.


If we look at breath as the thread that connects us to the world, it makes sense that in moments of intense stress, for some people the airways can close, keeping the outside world from entering. In many people with asthma, this pattern gets established early on in response to a specific trauma and then becomes the default mode — because the body views any response to stress as successful if a person survives it. And if the body has learned that closing the airways will allow it to survive, then until it learns another equally successful strategy with regards to breathing in stressful situations the pattern will continue.

Hawthorn Berries

Traditional Chinese Medicine provides a framework for understanding this as well — the concept of disturbed Shen. David Winston defines Shen as "[ . . ] or your individual spirit. It is a person's mind/consciousness and emotional balance. Disturbances of shen produce anxiety,insomnia, bad dreams, moodiness, listlesness, and poor memory."

5/26/2015 9:33:49 PM

How beautiful to support the body through herbs in this nasty health condition that affects so many children. To think we could choose herbs rather than steroids, just makes my heart sing! I recently write a short blog on a few other natural ways of supporting asthma including diet tips too :-) http://blog.naturalchemist.com.au/huff-and-puff-an-asthma-story/

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