Supplements for Breathing Problems

Numerous supplements may be effective for breathing problems. According to Medline Plus, mild breathing problems may be caused by a stuffy nose or vigorous exercise. However, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing may be a sign of a serious underlying lung condition, such as asthma, emphysema or pneumonia. Breathing problems range from mild to severe, depending on the cause of the problem. Before taking supplements to treat your breathing problem, talk to your doctor about possible side effects and proper dosage.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Ma Huang

Ma huang may be an effective dietary supplement to treat your breathing problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, ma huang, also known as Ephedra sinica, is an herb that contains the alkeloids--nitrogen-containing bases found in plants--ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. These alkeloids have been found to induce central nervous system stimulation, vasocontriction and brochodilation, or expansion of your airways. Dr. Sharol Tilgner, a naturopathic physician and author of the book "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth," states that ma huang is a diuretic, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, decongestant, bronchodilator, anti-inflammatory and antitussive. Because of its antispasmodic nature, ma huang helps keep your airways open, allowing the free flow of air. It is also a drying herb, which decreases congestion in your respiratory tract. Before taking ma huang as a dietary supplement, talk with your doctor about possible side effects and proper dosage.

Yerba Santa

Yerba santa is an herb and dietary supplement that may help you treat your breathing problems. The Purdue University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture says yerba santa, also known as Eriodictyon californicum or mountain balm, is common on the Pacific coast of the United States, along the coastal ranges that run from California north to Oregon. Yerba santa is an evergreen shrub whose leaves are used for medicinal purposes. According to Tilgner, yerba santa is a stimulating expectorant, bronchial dilator, and antimicrobial. Yerba santa thins and stimulates the free flow of mucus from your lungs in conditions involving congestion with thick ropey mucus. Tilgner states that yerba santa may help treat colds, laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma and hay fever. Before taking yerba santa for your breathing problems, talk with your doctor about possible side effects and proper dosage.


Lobelia, also known as Lobelia inflata, may be helpful for your breathing problems. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, lobelia has been used for centuries by Native Americans as an herbal remedy for respiratory conditions, including asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and cough. The UMMC states that the above-ground portions of the lobelia plant, such as the leaves and seeds, are used medicinally. Tilgner notes that lobelia is a stimulant, diaphoretic, expectorant, antispasmodic and emetic. Lobelia may be used for spasmodic coughs such as croup, bronchial asthma, bronchitis and pleurisy. Lobelia may be effective for bronchial asthma because it is a strong bronchial antispasmodic. Lobelia is available in liquid extracts, tinctures and as a dried herb in capsules and for teas. Before taking lobelia, talk with your doctor about possible side effects and proper dosage.