Asthma and Autoimmune Disease

What can be said about asthma and autoimmune disease?  Let me give you some basic information about asthma, it’s relationship to autoimmune disease and some information on herbal and alternative treatments.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs.  By chronic I mean long term.  It is related to an overactive immune system.  Although it is a lung disease, it actually affects the airways that take air into and out of the lungs.  It causes inflammation and narrowing in the airways which makes them swell and produce extra mucous causing shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing and uncontrollable coughing.


What Can You Do to Help or Lessen Asthma Symptoms?

  1. Address the overactive immune system

Eliminate triggers:  Asthma symptoms can be triggered by allergens like mold, pollen, mites and dust.  Other triggers can include stress, cold air, exercise, viruses, even chemical allergens such as perfumes and food additives.  Cigarette smoke and indoor and outdoor polutants should be avoided as well.

2.  Make dietary changes

Remove triggers:  Some foods are typically related to asthma attacks or triggers such as dairy products, nuts, shellfish and wheat.  In addition, many react to chemicals and additives used to preserve foods and dyes used to color foods.

It is best to avoid or decrease intake of foods that are heavily processed with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, anything with artificial additives, flavorings or sweeteners.  Also nitrates and sulfates should be avoided, so processed meats such as deli meats and bacon are excluded.

3.  Supplement diet

Vitamin B12 can help with sensitivity to sulfates.  In fact, B12 deficiency as actually been linked to some forms of asthma.  Omega 3 fatty acids such as fish oil and flaxseed oil help to decrease inflammation.  Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E are also important to decrease free radicals which cause inflammation to increase.  Bromelain is a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme.  It comes from the stem of the pineapple.  Also, magnesium levels have been known to be lower in those with asthma.  It has a bronchodilating effect.

4.  Exercise

Incorporate a regular exercise routine into your lifestyle.  Avoid exercising in cold air.  You should have a warm up and cool down period in your routine and there should be aerobic, resistance, stretching and yoga in your exercise workout rather than any one solitary focus.

What Herbs Can Help Asthma?


Angelica – Is an anti-inflammatory that boosts the immune system.  It is used in treating allergies as well as asthma.



Anise – An expectorant used in many cough syrups and lozenges.  Helps to get rid of excess mucous.

Coltsfoot – A cough suppressant that also soothes the throat.

Elecampane – Soothes the bronchial tube linings.  Is also an expectorant.



Grindelia – Also an expectorant used to treat spasmodic respiratory conditions.  Native Americans used it for skin infections as well.  The flowering tops and dried leaves were listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1882 until 1926 and in the National Formulary 1926 through 1960.

Horehound – An anti-inflammatory often used in herbal cough drops.













Licorice – Helps to restore and calm breathing.


Wild licorice

Lobelia – An antispasmodic and a bronchodilator that also stimulates the respiratory center in the brain which results in deeper breathing.  It is very powerful and is potentially toxic and should be used in small doses and under the care of a health care professional.  It should never be used by anyone with high blood pressure or heart disease.

Marshmallow – Is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  It is very soothing and healing.




Motherwort – Is wonderful for reducing anxiety, which always comes with asthma attacks.  It also decrease the severity of lung spasms.







Reishi Mushroom – A strong anti-inflammatory and an immune builder that strengthens the lungs.  You can buy and use them in food, but you can also get them in an herbal tincture.


Turmeric – I have discussed in many other posts.  I cannot say enough good things about it!

Turmeric Flower

Turmeric Flower

It is one of my “Emergency Kit” herbs.  It has been used for thousands of years for many purposes such as a spice, a medicine for many conditions and as a dye. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  There was a study done in India where patients were given turmeric powder fried in ghee.  60% of these patients had symptom relief.


Can Essential Oils Help With Asthma?

Essential oils can be particularly useful in the treatment of asthma due to their ability to be readily absorbed into the skin and through the airway.  I will be doing a more detailed post on using essential oils with asthma.  For the time being here is a list of the most commonly used essential oils for asthma:

Bergamot – Antispasmodic to help relieve muscle spasms associated with asthma attacks.

Chamomile – Antispasmodic and very relaxing.  Often used as a mild sleep aid.

Clove – Anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-spasmodic.  Helps to open airways.

Eucalyptus  – Decongestant and germicide. Breaks up phlegm and reduces mucous.

Frankincense – Anti-inflammatory and expectorant.

Peppermint – Decongestant.

Oregano – Antibacterial and antifungal.

Lavender – Anti-inflammatory and sedative.

Lemon – Powerful anti-microbial.

Tea Tree – Expectorant.

Thyme – Antibacterial and antiseptic.


How Best To Use Essential Oils For Asthma

Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways for asthma.  They can be inhaled either via steam inhalation or by using a diffuser.  Some asthmatics are very sensitive to smells so steam inhalation might work best in those cases.  They can also be applied, along with a carrier oil such as almond oil or coconut oil, directly to the skin.  In some cases, oils can be mixed into a tincture to drink.

I have a very dear friend who suffers miserably with asthma to the point of having to be hospitalized even though he was using inhalers and nasal sprays and anything else the doctors could recommend.  Recently he tried a new formula which I have listed below.  I can tell you that he has not used an inhaler or any nasal sprays in over a month!  At present, he is still taking his prescription meds.

He puts 2 drops of lemon, peppermint and lavender essential oils, along with 1 tablespoon of local honey (MUST BE LOCAL TO YOUR AREA) in 2 ounces of water and drinks it.

 Click these links to order them now:        lavender     lemon     peppermint

I would be very interested to hear from anyone else who tries this.  Please leave me a comment on this, or any other combination of herbs or essential oils you may have tried and whether they were successful for you.

I hope you found this information on asthma and autoimmune disease useful.  I will be looking forward to hearing your comments,



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  1. Steve says:

    This is powerful information, Debby – an essential service. My wife has serious asthma which used to send us to the ER monthly, but it has been well controlled for years. Of late, her breathing is very restricted and her medications and exercise are not doing the job. I’ll try this esential oils recipe if I can find the materials.
    I’ll also look at the other herbs and oils you mention for use in our smoothies and teas.
    Thanks so much for this great information.

    • Debby Morrow says:

      Thanks Steve. I hope that the information I have given will give your wife some relief. I have a niece with asthma so I know how much of a struggle it can be for them.


  2. MA says:

    Very interesting!

    I used to suffer from asthma when I was younger, I had to carry around my inhaler with me all the time. For different reasons, a few years ago I made quite a drastic change in my diet and lifestyle and the asthma vanished.

    Although it’s been a few weeks since I’ve felt like it’s coming back, it can also be hay fever affecting my breathing but I don’t like the feeling at all. I’ve been using essential oils since I noticed, and I will follow your advise about herbs, should I buy herbal tea made of the herbs you mention?

    thanks !

    • Debby Morrow says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m so glad to hear that diet helped with your asthma symptoms as people don’t always believe that until they hear it from other sources. Diet truly is extremely important. I would suggest that you definitely use the essential oils, as they rapidly move through your system and herbal teas take a little longer. You could use any of the herbs mentioned as teas in addition if you’d like, but I think the oils will do the job.



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