A piece in the news recently suggests ‘complacency’ in the management of childhood asthma in Scotland.

Herbalists use a wide variety of herbs to help manage asthma symptoms and support the health of the respiratory system. As research continues to support the traditional use of herbal remedies, recent clinical studies support the use of herbs such as liquorice, frankinsense and turmeric (Houssen et al., 2010) and Gingko biloba (Tang et al., 2007).

Liquorice has antiinflammatory properties which may be partly due to inhibition of the enzyme 11-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase which inactivates the steroid hormone cortisol,  the body’s natural antiinflammatory chemical. Asthma medication typically  involves use of steroid drugs

Frankinsense also has antiinflammatory properties through inhibition of the enzyme 5-lipoxygenase which is involved in synthesis of inflammatory chemicals called leukotrienes and turmeric in addition to inhibiting 5-lipoxygenase also inhibits the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase 2 which is involved in production of inflammatory prostaglandins

Gingko inhibits an inflammatory chemical called platelet activating factor (PAF) which is involved in airway constriction and inflammation in asthma

A herbal approach to asthma therefore can involve many different herbs that have a wide range of actions in the body to reduce inflammation and therefore symptoms.



Houssen ME et al. (2010) ‘Natural anti-inflammatory products and leukotriene inhibitors as complementary therapy for bronchial asthma’ Clin Biochem 43(10-11):887-90.

Tang Y, Xu Y, Xiong S, Ni W, Chen S, Gao B, Ye T, Cao Y, Du C. (2007) ‘The effect of Ginkgo Biloba extract on the expression of PKCalpha in the inflammatory cells and the level of IL-5 in induced sputum of asthmatic patients’ J Huazhong Univ Sci Technolog Med Sci. 27(4):375-80.