Breathe Easier with Japanese Herbs
Sara Altshul Prevention
This botanical duo could ease asthma symptoms and cut drug doses
As many as 17 million American adults know asthma's symptoms firsthand: breathlessness, wheezing, and coughing. But Satoshi Yoshida, MD, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, both in Boston, suggests that Japanese herbal medicine (Kampo) may help control those symptoms as effectively as conventional asthma therapy.
In Japan, where all herbal treatments are covered by national health insurance, six different botanical therapies are recognized under national guidelines for asthma management. Dr. Yoshida says that two herbs are particularly effective--and both are available in the US.
What Women Need to Know about COPD How is Asthma Different from Allergies What's Triggering Your Asthma Attacks?Saiko (Bupleuri radix) acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps to regulate the immune system, two critical functions in managing asthma symptoms, according to Dr. Yoshida. Over time, this herb has helped people with asthma lower their doses of corticosteroids, drugs that can have serious side effects.Mao (Ephedra spp.), which is called ma huang in Traditional Chinese Medicine, relaxes bronchial passages that constrict during an asthma attack. While too much ephedra can be dangerous, using this herb under the care of a qualified herbal medicine practitioner can be safe and effective, Dr. Yoshida says.
Don't try this treatment plan on your own. Dr. Yoshida recommends consulting a qualified doctor of Oriental Medicine (OMD). To find one, call toll-free (888) 500-7999; in Canada, call (610) 266-1433. Or visit the American Association of Oriental Medicine online at www.aaom.org. Your OMD and your regular physician should work together to monitor your condition and drug dosages.
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