If you’re living with severe asthma and can’t seem to get relief from your symptoms, you may be wondering what options you have. A few small studies have shown that herbal supplements can ease asthma symptoms. These herbs range from those found in your pantry to common traditional Chinese medicine herbs.

Combining herbs with your traditional asthma medications is known as complementary therapy. Using only herbal treatments without traditional medicines is alternative therapy. You shouldn’t use complementary or alternative therapies for asthma without talking to your doctor first.

Severe asthma management requires a combination of treatments to lessen and control symptoms. You’ll likely need to use prescription medications in addition to herbal treatments.

Here are five herbs and supplements that some claim can relieve your asthma symptoms, but first, let’s examine the risks.

Keep in mind that all of these herbs require more scientific research to prove their effectiveness.

Using herbs for asthma can carry risks. Always follow your asthma treatment plan and discuss any changes to the plan with your doctor.

Remember the following before you begin taking any herbal supplements:

  • No herbal treatment has strong evidence supporting its efficacy in improving asthma symptoms or lung function. Also, a study showing efficacy in animals doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for humans.
  • Some herbs may interfere with traditional asthma medications and cause complications or ineffectiveness.
  • Herbal supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA. This means they’re not reviewed by any governing body, or packaged with recommended doses. Supplements may be of poor quality or contaminated with other substances.
  • Herbs can cause allergic reactions, and children may react differently to them. Don’t give herbs to children without talking to a doctor. Also, use caution if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

You may already have this bright yellow spice in your pantry for cooking flavorful curries and other dishes. Turmeric gets its color from curcumin. This natural coloring agent can also reduce inflammation.

Turmeric may help with arthritis and even cancer. In relation to asthma, one study followed 77 participants with mild to moderate asthma who took curcumin capsules for 30 days.

Researchers found that the supplement helped reduce airway obstruction and could be a helpful complementary treatment for asthma. Note that this is only one small study, and more research is needed to determine the benefits and risks.

Ginseng and garlic are common herbs and available in a variety of supplement forms.

Ginseng is a plant from Asia that some people claim to have many health benefits, including the improvement of respiratory conditions. Garlic is also thought to have significant health benefits like reducing cholesterol and blood pressure.

A small study done on rats connected the use of ginseng and garlic to the reduction of asthma symptoms.

The study exposed rats to a substance that affects the lungs. The researchers gave some of the rats ginseng and garlic during the exposure. Those given the herbs had decreased symptoms and inflammation as opposed to the other group.

Still, more research on humans is needed to prove the effectiveness of these herbs.

In the last few decades, researchers have studied the effectiveness of herbal combinations from traditional Chinese medicine for asthma.

The combination called anti-asthma herbal medicine intervention (ASHMI) is one of them. This blend includes lingzhi (a mushroom), gan cao (licorice root), and ku shen (sophora root). Some claim that this combination of herbs can reduce airway constriction and inflammation, and keep your cortisol levels up, unlike steroid medications.

Some studies have examined the effectiveness of ASHMI. One study on mice concluded that the herbal combination helped relieve asthma symptoms.

In another study, researchers looked at the effectiveness of ASHMI among 20 non-smoking participants with asthma. They found that ASHMI appeared to be safe, and participants tolerated the herbs well.

There are other combinations of Chinese herbs that may be helpful in treating asthma, such as modified Mai Men Dong Tang. A study of 100 participants with mild-to-moderate asthma noted that this herbal combination improved symptoms with no side effects. All participants used traditional Western asthma medications during the study in combination with the herbs.

Research is lacking, though, as many of these studies are done on animals or with small groups of participants.

This spice is also known as Nigella sativa. Some studies suggest that it has medicinal benefits, including reducing asthma symptoms.

One study examined prior research on black seed and asthma to assess its effectiveness. The study concluded that prior research shows black seed may help asthma symptoms, inflammation, and airway function. It also emphasized the need for more research.

This sweet and natural substance may help different aspects of your asthma. Honey can smooth your airways and decrease the tickle that causes you to cough. Adults can take two teaspoons of honey at night to reduce a cough.

You can even infuse honey with herbs like turmeric to ease your symptoms more.

Honey has been shown to help asthma symptoms in rabbits. In one study, researchers gave honey converted into a gas to 40 rabbits and found their asthma symptoms lessened.

Still, this doesn’t mean honey can help asthma symptoms in humans. Further research is needed to determine if this method of dispensing honey can help people with asthma.

Some people claim that these herbs can be useful as additional asthma treatment, but all require substantial further research to confirm their benefits.

Make sure to talk to your doctor before adding any herbs into your treatment plan. Adding herbs without your doctor’s guidance may worsen your asthma or cause other health complications.