4 Herbs to Grow for Asthma

Build up your herbal medicine cabinet with these plants that help asthma sufferers breathe better.

by Dawn Combs

We’re still talking quite a bit about allergies this time of year. Allergies are often a temporary situation that flares up with heavy pollen exposure, but what about the long-term weakness of the respiratory system that causes asthma? For those who suffer with asthma, a simple dose of local raw honey won’t solve the problem.

Asthma is ultimately a constriction of the airways due to irritation and inflammation. As a syndrome or defined disease, asthma has been studied all the way back to ancient Egypt, but we still don’t really understand why someone is born with this problem.

The person who suffers from asthma will have triggers that set off wheezing, chest tightness, panic and feelings of suffocation. These episodes often occur in response to an allergen, so it is, of course, helpful to treat the person as you would if they had basic allergy issues. The severity of the attacks will dictate how you prepare a home health kit. Here are four herbs you may want to consider including.

1. Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)

4 Herbs to Grow for Asthma - Photo by Auntie P/Flickr (HobbyFarms.com)

If the person in your household with asthma tends to have serious attacks that deprive them of oxygen and require emergency treatment, it’s important to have a lobelia tincture within easy reach at all times. This beautiful plant is a superstar anti-spasmodic, used not only for asthma but other respiratory issues, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. I’m often asked about what to do for exercise-induced asthma and lobelia is always my answer.

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If used over time, keep a couple things in mind:

  • First, it is one of our medicinal natives that United Plant Savers lists as “At Risk.” For this reason, it should be sourced only from sustainable and reputable growers—you can even give a place in your garden. It has a beautiful blue flower and likes to grow in the sun.
  • Second, if you use too much lobelia, it acts as an emetic (aka, causes vomiting). Trust me, too much is not pleasant.

2. Plantain (Plantago spp.)

4 Herbs to Grow for Asthma - Photo by Harry Rose/Flickr (HobbyFarms.com)

One of my favorite herbs to build up the health of the lungs is plantain. It’s often used as a tea specifically for lung weakness that contributes to asthma. I like to use plantain here because of its abilities also in the digestive system. Anytime you are trying to address a deep deficiency in the human body it is helpful to shore up the digestion. This ensures that the nutrition you are increasing can actually be absorbed and used appropriately. Best of all, no one really needs to try to grow plantain—it’s likely already growing in your yard.

3. Garlic (Allium sativum)

4 Herbs to Grow for Asthma - Photo by Robert Benner/Flickr (HobbyFarms.com)

This delicious culinary bulb is also very helpful when it comes to asthma, and you can easily find it at the farmer’s market this time of year. Garlic is high in vitamins and minerals that are especially important to the health of the respiratory system. Although it’s potent, eat garlic fresh to get the best benefits.

4. Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)

4 Herbs to Grow for Asthma - Photo by Paul Albertella/Flickr (HobbyFarms.com)

Another great herb with antispasmodic qualities, butterbur is versatile and fun to grow. Butterbur is good for allergies and asthma. It’s roots and leaves are used for applications in the lungs but also for migraines.

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