Herb Health: supporting asthma

Medical herbalist Gabriella Clarke looks at how herbal medicine can help soothe symptoms.

The UK has one of the highest incidences of asthma in Europe. Around 5.4 million people in the UK are receiving treatment for asthma – that’s 1 in 11 people.

Correct management of this potentially life threatening condition is imperative and it’s very important to follow the advice and treatment plan set out by the GP, but there are some herbal remedies that can be taken alongside standard medication to help control this condition and reduce symptoms.

Here is what nature has to offer to help us treat and manage this condition, which can be triggered among other things by respiratory infections, allergies and stress.


You may be unaware of the extraordinary benefits of this wonderful herb, but a huge number of studies have been carried out proving its efficacy in treating respiratory viruses including colds and flu. An important clinical trial carried out in Turkey demonstrated that an extract of pelargonium may greatly reduce asthma attacks in people suffering from acute respiratory infections.

ASTRAGULUS (astragalus membranaceus)

This common Chinese herb has been growing in popularity recently. It is actually classed as an adaptogen, which means it helps us physically and emotionally to cope better with stress, which is a common trigger in people with asthma. It also has immune-enhancing properties and may help to prevent respiratory viruses. 

BAICAL SKULLCAP (scutellaria baicalensis)

Also known as Baical Skullcap, this herb has to be one of the best for treating allergies. It is one of the 50 key herbs in Chinese Herbal Medicine. It contains an important constituent know as Baicalein. Research conducted in China demonstrates the anti allergic effects of this herb by reducing the body’s production of immunoglobulin E – a chemical commonly produced by the body during the allergic response.


In most cases of allergy and especially in asthma, inflammation is involved. Turmeric contains a constituent known as curcumin, which exhibits strong anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric makes a wonderful ingredient in many dishes and asthma and allergy sufferers should try to include this fantastic spice in their daily diets as much as they can. It is also available in capsule form for people who don’t like the flavour.