In recent years, turmeric, a spice used in Asian countries, has attracted the attention of researchers due to its reported effectiveness in inflammatory and other disorders. Now, Brazilian researchers say turmeric may help with asthma control in children.
Scientists from the University of Sao Paulo and the University of Ribeirao Preto report a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase II clinical trial which indicated that powdered turmeric may help with asthma control in children.
Turmeric is commonly used in Ayurvedic therapies, primarily to treat the skin, heart, liver, and lungs. It’s thought to fight allergies and boost immunity.
Bronchial asthma affects 100 to 150 million people worldwide and approximately 180,000 deaths annually are attributed to asthma.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways characterised by such symptoms as coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath.
They said in addition to standard treatment, powdered turmeric consumption led to less waking up at night, less frequent use of medication, and “better disease control” compared to placebo.
The new study published in the 2019 Journal of Ethnopharmacology had used turmeric that was simply powdered and encapsulated. Each capsule contained 250/ mg of powdered turmeric, providing 11/ mg of curcumin and 2/ mg of demethoxycurcumin.
It recruited 55 children and adolescents with persistent asthma and randomly assigned them to receive a maltodextrin placebo or the turmeric capsules (30/ mg/kg/day) for six months, in addition to standard treatment.
Both groups experienced improvements in symptom frequency, and the impact of asthma on their daily lives decreased, but only participants in the turmeric group experience less waking up at night, less frequent use of medication (short-acting beta-adrenergic agonists), and “better disease control” at both three and six months.
Given that the study used a relatively low dose of turmeric, and they declared “one can speculate that, should a larger dose be used, differences in other aspects could be observed”.
Furthermore, they caution against generalising their results to “all asthmatic patients in other settings since our population consisted mostly of patients with moderate and severe asthma”.
Previously, a study that followed 77 participants with mild to moderate asthma who took curcumin capsules for 30 days indicated tumeric as add-on therapy in patients of bronchial asthma. It was in the 2014 Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research.
Researchers found that it was a safe supplement to help reduce airway obstruction and could be a helpful complementary treatment for asthma.
However, they said that further clinical evaluation is needed with more number of subjects, a higher tolerated dose and for a longer duration.
Still more research, ginger, well known as a therapy for an upset stomach, is demonstrated in several recent studies, in animals and in human cells tested in a laboratory to open constricted airways.
The study published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology found ginger works by simultaneously inhibiting an enzyme that helps cause airway muscles to constrict and activating another enzyme that tends to relax the airways.
The study, which tested the effects of ginger components on isolated human airway cells, found ginger worked particularly well in combination with a medication currently used in bronchodilators that asthmatics carry in case they have trouble breathing.
Several studies in rodents found injections of ginger extracts helped ease simulated asthma conditions.
A French study, published in 2008 in the journal International Immunopharmacology, found a ginger extract softened an inflammatory reaction in mouse lungs after the mice were exposed to allergens that irritated their lungs.
Moreover, honey is also good for asthma. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and it is a common ingredient in cold and flu remedies. Honey increases saliva production, which may reduce coughing and throat irritation.
The health department of the University of California, Los Angeles recommends that adults take two teaspoons of honey at bedtime to reduce coughing.
Evidence has not supported other theories about honey as a treatment for asthma. Most relevant research has tested the effectiveness of honey as a cough suppressant.
A study from 2012 included 300 children aged between one and five years with upper respiratory infections. Researchers gave some children citrus honey, eucalyptus honey, or Labiatae honey.
Others received a placebo. Children who took honey had relief from nighttime coughing, which resulted in improved sleep.
While taking one or two teaspoons of honey are usually safe for most people, there are a few exceptions. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infants under the age of one should not be given honey, due to the risk of botulism.
Botulism is a rare type of poisoning caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Botulism may cause vomiting, trouble breathing, and paralysis, and it can be life-threatening. It is primarily transmitted through contaminated soil and food.