What You Need to Know About Asthma Supplements
Asthma, a chronic or long-term lung disease, makes it difficult to breathe. Symptoms typically include wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. Usually, asthma treatment includes steroids, inhaled bronchodilators, and reducing triggers. Some people also turn to asthma supplements to treat the condition. But do they work? Keep reading to find out.
What Are Asthma Supplements?
There are no specific supplements that are approved for the treatment of asthma. But there are supplements that are on the market that some people may use to reduce asthma attacks. Asthma supplements may include vitamins, minerals, and herbs.
Taking some types of supplements is not uncommon for people with asthma. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, about 18% of adults with asthma have reported taking non-vitamin supplements for asthma.
Keep in mind: studies are mixed on whether supplements have any role in treating asthma. Supplements may include:
Antioxidants include vitamin A and C. Antioxidants can help slow damage to the cells in the body that occurs due to free radicals. But they also may help the body in other ways.
According to research in the journal Thorax, the odds of having an asthma attack are higher in people who have low levels of vitamin A and C. Also, according to the Mayo Clinic, people who have severe and persistent asthma may have low levels of antioxidants. But studies are mixed on whether taking vitamins A or C help.
Fish oil is a common supplement used to promote heart health. But it may also help lung health as well. It is theorized that fish oil supplements may help reduce inflammation in the lungs, which occurs with asthma.
Studies on fish oil for asthma are mixed. Some studies indicated that taking fish oil supplements may decrease asthma symptoms in adults and children. But the studies were small, and the results are not conclusive. One study found that fish oil may increase symptoms in aspirin-induced asthma.
But fish oil also has other health benefits, which can be beneficial for a person’s overall well-being.
Vitamin D helps keep your bones strong, but it also has other functions. For instance, it may help fight illness and reduce the risk of depression. Some research suggests taking vitamin D supplements may play a role in asthma treatment.
A study in the journal The Lancet found that people who took vitamin D supplements had a decreased incidence of asthma attacks that needed treatment with steroids. The study also indicated that people who took the supplement with their prescribed asthma medication were about half as likely to visit the emergency room for an asthma attack than those who did not take vitamin D.
Do Asthma Supplements Work?
The consensus is not entirely clear on whether they work for reducing the severity or frequency of asthma attacks. Some studies do appear to show a link between certain supplements, such as vitamin D and reduced asthma symptoms. But other studies are less convincing and do not show a definitive link. The bottom line is results are mixed.
Supplements are often used by many to treat a wide variety of illnesses and conditions, and some people use them to treat asthma. While it is likely supplements alone will not be enough to treat asthma, they may have a small role in decreasing the severity of the condition.
But it is vital to take some precautions before taking supplements. Keep in mind, just because something is considered natural, does not mean there are no side effects.
Consider the following precautions:
Determine the Optimal Dose
Most people get the nutrients they need from the foods they eat. But depending on your dietary habit, you may fall short of certain vitamins. The optimal dose of a mineral or vitamin may vary based on your body size and age. Before starting supplements, your doctor may want to do blood work to check your levels. Also, herbs may not have an optimal dose. So, it may be challenging to know what dosage to take.
Be Aware of the Interaction With Other Medications
According to the Cleveland Clinic, certain herbs that may be used to treat asthma may interact with other medications and lead to potential health issues. For example, licorice root, which may reduce inflammation, can also raise blood pressure.
Watch for Side Effects
Supplements can have side effects. The likelihood of side effects often depends on the dose. If you take a high dose of a supplement, you may be at an increased risk of side effects. In some cases, such as with certain herbs, the exact side effects may not be entirely known. Possible side effects of supplements may include:
- Stomach cramps
- Liver damage
- Kidney stones
Talk to your Doctor
It is always best to talk with your doctor before starting any asthma supplements. Your doctor can advise you about any interactions with medications you are taking and also tell you the right dose to take.