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Holistic Approaches to Managing Asthma



Any condition that affects our respiratory health can severely impact our quality of life. If you have asthma, you probably have an appreciation for normal breathing that other people take for granted. Conventional approaches involve medications and avoiding triggers, among others. If standard treatment is not providing optimal relief or you are merely interested in complementing your current regimen, there are many options worth exploring that take into account achieving overall health that will benefit your specific condition, not just treating the symptoms of your asthma.

Dietary Changes

Our food choices influence our health much more than we realize–besides providing the basic fuel that keeps us going, what we eat can influence the genesis of diseases and conditions as well as their course. If you have asthma, making certain food choices may help manage your condition. Limit foods that provoke inflammation, such as processed carbohydrates, sugar, trans fats, omega-6 fatty acids, and animal fats. Foods that soothe inflammation include omega-3 fatty acids and fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, research suggests eating Mediterranean style may help curb asthma attacks; this diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, and other healthy fats and whole grains. Meat, dairy, and sweets are eaten sparingly.

Meditation and Acupuncture

While meditation is often associated with spiritual pursuits and spiritual health, it may offer numerous benefits for our overall well-being. Acupuncture, an ancient Eastern practice, has been gaining traction in the West as more and more studies are finding it beneficial for a range of conditions.

Some studies have found these practices to be effective in reducing asthma symptoms. One such study, which appeared in the Permanente Journal, found that a program of guided imagery (a form of meditation) and acupuncture resulted in improvements in a variety of parameters being measured. Compared to just receiving conventional medical treatment, participants adding acupuncture and meditation to their regimen experienced better respiratory function, fewer visits to the emergency room, fewer physician visits, fewer days taking steroids, and less use of inhalers.


Yoga has been practiced since ancient times, and its popularity in the West has been exploding in recent years. It is highly valued as a spiritual practice, but like meditation, it has many practical benefits such as stress reduction and increased overall well-being. While not all studies were strongly designed, a review that appeared in the Journal of Asthma in 2011 found yoga was effective for reducing the need for drug treatment, the overall number of attacks, and reduced airway sensitivity, among other benefits. The researchers concluded that the results suggest further study with more rigorously designed trials.


Something is compelling about bringing all the stuff running through our heads out into the open; the simple act of writing out your feelings, worries, and anxieties can help dissipate the power they hold when we hold it all in. Besides the act of releasing all of this turmoil, journaling enables you to focus on your issues in a productive way where you can examine what is going on and why you feel the way you do; you can identify stress triggers and figure out more constructive ways to deal with these issues.

You can also more closely examine your behavior and see where you can make different choices. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, research has shown daily journaling to have a positive effect on asthma symptoms.

Closing Thoughts

When we are faced with health problems, we can feel powerless to do anything about them, and that is a sad feeling. But, it does not have to be that way. Your health condition may not disappear, but with more significant effort on our parts, we can often make significant improvements that we probably do not think are possible now. Tending to both your body and mind is a powerful way to influence your health and may help you manage your asthma.