This is a summary from http://library.mothernature.com/l/herbs-for-health-and-healing/asthma_1104.html on herbs used for asthma in children.
There are many factors influencing asthma in children, including environmental and psychological, such as stress. Obviously due to the real health risks involved this is merely information on using herbs to consider to prevent asthmatic attacks. Prevention is far better than treatment during an attack and nothing here is intended to be used to administer during an asthmatic attack.Printed below is the article as it appeared in the citation above from Mother Nature. One physical factor in the below is the use of herbs which are vaso relaxers so as a general herbal benefit it's acknowledged that preventing vasoconstriction is potentially preventive to the actual attacks. Most prevention protocols are not simple one shot therapies but involve changing the child's lifestyle to incorporate those herbs which help maintain relaxation of the bronchial passageways.
Herbs and Recipes To Prevent Asthmatic Attacks In Children
Asthma is a respiratory ailment in which the throat and lungs constrict, making it difficult for a person to breathe. In its mildest form, this condition, which manifests itself as recurring attacks, is uncomfortable; at its worst, it can be life-threatening. Most people with asthma are constantly battling congestion in their lungs. Asthma can occur in anyone, but it is most prevalent during childhood and early adulthood. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the division of the U.S. Public Health Services that investigates and tries to control the incidence of various diseases, the asthma rate in children increased almost 40 percent from 1980 to 1990.
Many things can trigger an asthma attack, including exhaustion, stress, lung infection and even cold air, but exposure to allergic substances, such as dust and smoke, tops the list. Although attacks are usually brief, they are still frightening for child and parent alike.
Modern medicine offers children with asthma little more than temporary relief for their symptoms. The right herbs, however, not only help these children to catch their breath, but also reduce attacks by strengthening their lungs and their immune systems. You will find mullein and elecampane—which herbalists have found to be exceptionally tonic and healing to the lungs—in almost every commercially available herbal formula for asthma. These herbs also arrest or eliminate symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath by opening the constricted bronchial passages.
Other herbs also act as antihistamines to open air passages and relieve wheezing. (Histamines are substances released in the body that produce swelling and constrict bronchial passages.) These herbs include some familiar and tasty children's favorites, such as anise, ginger, peppermint and chamomile. German studies have shown that chamomile may slow allergic reactions, such as those that trigger asthma attacks, by increasing the adrenal glands' production of cortisone, which reduces lung inflammation and makes breathing easier. Motherwort and passionflower, which are commonly used by Italian physicians to treat asthma, not only decrease the severity of lung spasms but also reduce anxiety, thus lessening the chance of an attack. Lemon verbena tea—a flavorful drink that almost any child will appreciate—is commonly given to South American children to reduce their wheezing. If your child suffers from asthma, you too may want to try a tea made with these herbs, but you may also want to keep a tincture of these same herbs on hand for times when making tea is inconvenient. Many herbal asthma formulas are available in natural food stores.
1 quart boiling water
1 teaspoon each chamomile flowers, echinacea root, mullein leaves and passionflower leaves
½ teaspoon each elecampane root and lemon verbena leaves (if available)
Pour boiling water over the herbs in a saucepan and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain out herbs. For a 50-pound child, give a half cup of tea at least once a day as a preventive, or a few times a day when breathing becomes strained or when emotional conditions may lead to an attack. If you use a tincture of these herbs, give ¼ dropperful (15 drops) to replace each half-cup of tea. Store extra tea in the refrigerator.
According to studies reported at a doctors' conference in Florence, Italy, in 1986, ginkgo reduces the susceptibility of children to various allergic substances and thus greatly decreases the frequency of asthma attacks. The researchers found that ginkgo keeps the bronchial passages in the lungs from constricting. In traditional Chinese medicine, ginkgo throat spray is used in much the same way as the modern asthmatic inhaler. Ginkgo, which can be found at most natural food stores in both pill and tincture form, is an effective and easy-to-use herb.
Ginkgo Throat Spray
1 teaspoon tincture of ginkgo leaves
5 drops chamomile essential oil (optional)
¼ cup water
Combine ingredients and store the mixture in a sprayer bottle. Shake well before using. Use as needed to keep airways clear.
For thousands of years, another Chinese herb, ma huang, has been used to dilate bronchial passages and stop asthma symptoms for hours. Ma huang, which is also known as Chinese ephedra, is a potent herbal antihistamine. It also stimulates the adrenal glands and the nervous system and misuse of this herb has caused several deaths, so you must discuss its use with a doctor knowledgeable about herbs before giving it to your child—it can be particularly detrimental for a child who has a weak heart or is run-down. A gentler approach comes from onions, which contain a newly discovered compound that reduces the severity of asthma attacks. In one German study of a group of people with asthma, about half the subjects experienced much less severe attacks when they drank onion juice every day. Your child will most likely refuse to drink onion juice, so you could try adding onions to his meals.
Many of these herbs can be combined into effective asthma remedies, but it is also important to give your child herbs that build up the immune system, such as echinacea and chamomile. This may seem contradictory, since allergies are the result of an overactive immune system—that is, the system treats harmless foreign substances as objects to be destroyed, and in the process harms rather than protects the body—but these "immune-boosting" herbs also "balance" the immune system so it can better realize when substances are harmful and when they are not. Allergic reactions, such as those that trigger attacks in many people with asthma, often indicate that an individual is suffering from problems with her immune system. Children with difficult-to-treat asthma cases often benefit from taking a Chinese formula of magnolia, rehmannia and don quai. In one Chinese study, these herbs allowed several people of various ages who suffered from severe asthma to stop taking the powerful steroid drugs that they were given to fight their asthma. Other people with asthma were able to reduce the amount of their drugs.
Chinese Asthma Tea
1 teaspoon each magnolia flowers and rehmannia root
½ teaspoon don quai root
3 cups water
Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and steep for 20 minutes. Give 1 cup daily. Store extra tea in the refrigerator. These herbs can be special-ordered though a natural food store or bought from a mail-order Chinese herb source.
Herbs alone can work wonders in helping your child, and a few additional measures will contribute to the success of these remedies. Since asthma is associated with allergies, keep the air your child breathes as clean as possible. Air filters help to eliminate many common airborne allergens: pollen, mites, mold, animal dander and dust. Check that your air-conditioning and heating- system filters are not recycling dust through your home. You might also remove feather pillows and comforters from your child's bed, and wash his toys to see if either of these measures makes a difference. In addition, avoid giving your child foods to which people with asthma tend to be sensitive, especially fruit dried with sulfites (additives used to help vegetables keep their color) or foods containing the flavor-enhancer MSG (monosodium glutamate), which is used in some Chinese restaurants and in many processed foods. Studies show that one way to prevent asthma in the first place is by breastfeeding your baby; breastfeeding is known to help build up the natural immunities that prevent children from developing allergies.
I met eight-year-old Heather and her mother, Lori, soon after Heather started suffering asthma attacks. A doctor had advised stripping the child's room of everything, including the carpet and most of her toys, to turn it into a sterile, hospital-like ward. As is the case with many people with asthma, stress played a key role in Heather's condition, and Lori was worried that removing her daughter's special curtains and favorite toys might prove really upsetting. Indeed, as we talked about it, Heather could barely contain her tears. As a compromise, they worked together to redecorate Heather's room and make it less allergenic and easier to keep clean. Most of the stuffed animals took a "carnival ride" in the washing machine, while others vacationed in another part of the house.
They then began herbal treatments, focusing on substances that could fend off asthma. When Lori heard that I was writing about asthma, she wanted me to assure other parents who are dealing with asthmatic children for the first time that it can get better. Heather no longer has asthma attacks, and Lori credits herbs, especially those that bolster the immune system, such as echinacea, for improving her daughter's condition. As an added benefit, Heather does not come down with as many colds and flus as she once did. There was even a day at school when Heather picked up a pet rat, once a sure trigger for her asthma; her eyes reddened, but she did not start wheezing.
Janet, a registered nurse, uses both medical and herbal approaches to treat her son Ryan's asthma. Janet and her husband, Dan, say that the best prevention for seven-year-old Ryan's asthma attacks is a lavender chest rub just before he goes to sleep. The lavender does double duty: As a muscle relaxant, it keeps chest muscles and bronchial passages from constricting; as a mind relaxer, it reduces the stress that might trigger an attack. If the child tends to become congested while sleeping, an antihistamine such as chamomile can be used in conjunction with the lavender.
Lavender Chest Rub
8 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops chamomile essential oil (optional)
¼ cup olive (or other vegetable) oil
Combine ingredients. Rub on chest as needed, especially before bedtime. If you wish to add chamomile as an antihistamine, replace 2 drops of the lavender essential oil with 2 drops of chamomile essential oil.
An alternative to the chest rub is an herbal steam that uses these same essential oils. Add two drops of lavender essential oil to a humidifier (check the instructions to make sure yours will not clog or otherwise be damaged by essential oils) in your child's room or have your child inhale the steam from a pan of water containing four drops of lavender essential oil. For more information, see Herbal Steam in chapter 93.
Janet and Dan tried a lavender steam with Ryan but he did not like putting his head over the hot steam. In exploring other ways to administer this herb, they eventually discovered that if they put him in a hot bath containing a few drops of lavender essential oil at the first signs of a serious attack, Ryan breathed easily for at least an hour. Dan says that it is amazing how dramatically the herbal bath works in halting even the worst attacks—a great relief, since Ryan's asthma is so bad that he has ended up in the hospital a few times, once in intensive care. Since the herbal treatments began, there have been no hospital visits, and Janet and Dan have been able to reduce Ryan's medication.
Unlike teas and pills, the ginkgo spray, chest rub, steam and hot lavender bath can be safely used even after the child begins to wheeze. To play it safe, have your child sniff the oils before you use the chest rub, steam or bath for the first time—some asthma sufferers are sensitive to any fragrance.
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