7 May is World Asthma Day. Millions of South Africans deal with asthma daily, and South Africa has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma in Africa, with teenagers experiencing more severe asthma symptoms than ever before.

Available research shows that we have not been treating the condition properly for a long time, only focusing on symptoms.[1] As such, an estimated 1000 people die from asthma every day, according to the Global Asthma Report.[2]

“In South Africa, mortality due to asthma is still one of the highest in the world, and a leading cause of absenteeism from work,” says allergy specialist and founder of the Allergy and Asthma Clinic in the Western Cape, Dr Corli Lodder. “We grapple with a general misunderstanding of the condition, including the fact that while the condition may be the same, the triggers may be different and need to be thoroughly assessed and understood.”

According to the 2022 Global Asthma Report, South Africa has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma. For instance, over 20% of the population of all children in South Africa, well beyond the global rate of 1 in 10, show symptoms. This cross-sectional study was conducted by the Global Asthma Network between 2015 and 2020.

Here are some herbal remedies that have been studied for their potential benefits in managing asthma:

  1. Boswellia: Also known as Indian frankincense, boswellia is an anti-inflammatory, which helps to reduce inflammation in the air pathway, and eases the symptoms.
  2. Ginkgo Biloba: Ginkgo biloba has been traditionally used to improve respiratory functions and may help to reduce asthma symptoms. Ginkgo Biloba also improves circulation and reduces inflammation.
  3. Ginger: Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and may help to relax the airways, which in turn makes it easier to breathe. You can consume ginger fresh, by chewing on it, including it in a smoothie or food or as a tea.
  4. Turmeric: Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric, and has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This may help to reduce inflammation in the airways and alleviate the symptoms of asthma.
  5. Licorice Root: Licorice root has been traditionally used to treat many respiratory conditions. It contains anti-inflammatory compounds and has bronchodilator effects, which may help to improve breathing.
  6. Mullein: Mullein has been traditionally used to alleviate coughing and wheezing. It may help to soothe inflamed airways and improve breathing in individuals with asthma.
  7. Butterbur: Butterbur has been studied for its potential to reduce inflammation of the airways and improve the functioning of the lungs. However, it’s essential to use butterbur products that are certified free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can be harmful to the liver.
  8. Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil contains compounds called cineole, which also has bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory effects. Inhaling eucalyptus oil vapour or as we were treated as kids and steam yourself with eucalyptus, which may help to relieve asthma symptoms.
  9. Garlic: Garlic is great for boosting the immune system and it has anti-inflammatory properties. While research specifically on garlic for asthma is limited, it may help to reduce inflammation and improve your respiratory function.


10 natural remedies to beat your seasonal allergies

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