Many of the over the counter asthma treatments available in drug stores and online are actually homeopathic products. Some of these products may not prominently display the word “homeopathic,” however, but claim on their labels that they treat the shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness of asthma. These products can not replace your asthma inhaler or any other doctor-prescribed asthma treatment. The FDA has sent out a warning to asthma suffers, urging them not to consider homeopathic asthma treatments as alternatives to conventional prescribed asthma treatments such as steroidal inhalers or other approved medications. There are also some safe and effective OTC medications that are approved for sale.
Although it is not likely that a true homeopathic asthma treatment will cause any harm, due to its lack of active ingredients, you should be aware that the word homeopathy or homeopathic is often used on products that are not actually prepared in accordance with homeopathic traditions. In other words, these treatments may actually contain some amount of ingredients, such as herbal extracts. The use of an herbal extract by an asthma patient, especially an unknown one, may actually exacerbate asthma or cause adverse reactions.
The use of the word “natural” is common on these types of asthma products. They also claim to be “safe and effective” and claim they can be used to treat minor asthma symptoms or even acute asthma attacks. The fact that the ingredients are natural in no way ensures that they are safe, and certainly not that they are effective. True homeopathic preparations, however, are diluted with water to the point that no ingredient is present, so they may certainly be quite safe, but also completely ineffective.
Among the ingredients claimed in such products are wolfs Bane (Aconitum napellus, fuzi, monk’s blood), which is toxic to humans and fatal in large doses. Other ingredients use unrecognizable names which would be very difficult to research. Most of these ingredients would actually be harmful if they were truly present in the product.
Although you do not need to be unduly concerned with dangerous reactions to these asthma treatments, the real danger comes from relying on them instead of on the many asthma treatments that are proven effective. Acute asthma attacks can be very serious and can lead to death. Never replace your prescribed asthma treatment with a homeopathic or other herbal asthma treatment unless advised by a qualified physician (which is not likely to happen).
The only FDA approved over-the-counter asthma inhaler is Primatene Mist. It is meant for the relief of mild intermittent asthma symptoms. It was taken off the market in 2011 because it used propellents known to deplete the ozone layer but has since been reformulated.
Asthma Products to Avoid
- AsthmaCare by Safecare – labeled Homeopathic, natural, safe, smart, etc. and claimed to temporarily relieve minor asthma symptoms. Sold online at Walgreens and other outlets, but not in stores. Comes in a squirt bottle. Contains wolfsbane or monk’s hood, except not really.
- Asthma Therapy by TRP (The Relief Company) – labeled Homeopathic and as “Bronchial Support for Asthma/COPD like symptoms. Comes in fast-dissolving tablets. The website prominently declares that this product does not replace fast-acting inhalers, which is not displayed on the front of the package label. Among the ridiculous ingredients in this product are house dust mites, a leading cause of asthma attacks and dust allergies.
- Symtom Relief by King Bio (aka Dr. King’s Natural Medicine Asthma Symptom Relief) – This oral spray product does warn, in a red banner on the front label, that is it not a rescue inhaler. It is also not an asthma syptom treatment. The top of the label bears the meaningless claim that the product is “Bio-Energetically Enhanced.”
- Respitrol by HelloLife – This product has been given a name similar to the type of name you might expect an asthma inhaler or other FDA approved asthma medication to have. It claims to be a “proprietary homeopathic and oligotherapeutic complex.” Oligotherapy is an old quack medicine system that uses trace minerals or “oligos,” which in Greek means “a very small quantity. This product also claims to be manufactured in state-of-the-art facilities, under strict guidelines of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Be aware that this in no way means that the product is approved by or inspected by the FDA.
- Homeolab Real Relief Asthma Respiratory Care Nighttime – Chewable tablet product with typical herbal ingredients diluted to nothingness.
- Boericke and Tafel Bronchitis and Asthma Aide Tablets – Supposedly a sublingual medication that you allow to dissolve under your tongue. Also, contains wolfsbane or monk’s hood, except not really.
See the FDA Warning.