Harvard medical advise for treating asthma

How to Treat Asthma the Harvard Recommended Way!

We’re dedicated to exploring how to treat asthma at home, so of course we’re interested in the what the medical community has to say.

We’ve read just about every asthma book out there, including this helpful The Harvard Medical School Guide to Taking Control of Asthma. The authors do a good job explaining asthma and conventional treatment, and they explore how to make a personalized asthma action plan.

Of course its steeped in the mainstream, contemporary understanding of the condition, but they do include a chapter on complementary and alternative treatments. Worth a read if you’re interested in home remedies for asthma like we are. 

We haven’t tried all these yet, but we think it’s helpful to know what Harvard suggests. If you agree, keep reading!


Full disclosure: we have never personally tried acupuncture. But surely you know some die-hard proponents of this traditional Chinese treatment – certainly there’s lots of them out there. In this practice, needles are inserted in various parts of the body to restore energy flow. Tests have proven acupuncture to be effective for certain conditions, including postoperative dental pain and nausea. Our Harvard doctors are quick to point out that no verified tests of acupuncture show that it actually works for asthma. But they do say that it has helped some of their patients. To that end, their endorsement is cautious. Also (and this goes without saying), they insist you only use a legitimate acupuncturist who uses sterile, disposable needles.

And word to the wise: the authors also point out that acupuncture is covered under some health plans, so make sure you’re exploring all available options.

Reduce Stress to Treat Asthma

Meditating to learn how to treat asthmaThis one’s a no-brainer, and one our Harvard doctors readily get behind. It’s got to be a universal phenomenon amongst asthmatics – stress makes our symptoms worse. Now, stress alone doesn’t cause asthma, so stress reduction won’t make asthma go away. But it can dramatically improve your symptoms and improve the way you feel.

Learning to cope with stress is beneficial to all people, of course, not just those with asthma. But learning to calm yourself down with breath awareness is a great starting point to treating your asthma, and standard stress-reduction therapies like yoga and medication are likely to help as well. That’s why we like Buteyko. Not only is it a breathing technique that has helped us relieve our symptoms, it also requires you to take time for yourself each day to sit quietly and calm down. That’s a win-win.

Asthma Diet?

Our Harvard doctors know that almost everyone wondering how to treat asthma has probably explored moderating their diet. If you’ve tried to research diet on your own, you know that there’s a mess of information out there, some more credible than others. For this reason, the authors here recommend paying attention to what affects you, and eliminating whatever does. They don’t suggest one catch-all asthma diet.

That said, they point out that sulfites are proven to cause asthma attacks in certain individuals. So be extra cautious with them, and see how they effect you. Sulfites are preservatives found in foods like shrimp, dried fruit and processed potatoes, and beer and wine. Remember that they don’t universally trigger attacks, so you may or may not be sensitive.

In general, the Harvard doctor’s approach to diet mirrors our own: moderation, moderation, moderation, with a bit of self-monitoring thrown in.

Learn more about the diet I maintain to manage my asthma symptoms here

Asthma Support Groups

We love this one, because it’s what we’re trying to do with Treat Asthma at Home, as least to a degree. These Harvard doctors actually run their own support group meetings at the Partners Asthma Center, and they think they’ve been very helpful for their patients. A group of people with asthma meets to discuss all sorts of topics related to their condition, under the supervision of a social worker. The new and welcoming environment lets everyone talk freely about their concerns, without feeling like they’re burdening the listener. And this can be extremely beneficial. The doctors write that in their support groups, “people help each other feel less alone with their asthma and more empowered about how to deal with it.”

And that’s exactly our goal with this website. We’re hoping that as we grow and share our experiences, others will join us. So if you’re exploring how to treat asthma, please join us in the comments and let us know – have you tried any of these alternative treatments? With any success? And don’t forget to join our mailing list!

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