When I was very little, I was given to attacks of asthma, usually brought about by allergic reactions to pollen. It began when I was three and continued until my teen years. At one point I was on allergy medication, but it made my heart race, so I stopped taking it. Instead, I resolved on a policy of trigger avoidance. I was allergic to cats, grass and dust. I decided to avoid these things at all costs. Humid environments were bad for me, so I used air conditioning all the time, even when it was not that hot outside, just to dry the air I breathed. In this way, I avoided having to deal with my asthma, without having to take any medication for it.
Recently, the asthma came back. I was about to set out on a trip and did not have time to see a doctor. So I consulted my friend Marie Lasater who is a registered nurse and an expert on natural remedies. She recommended pine branch tea for what ailed me.
Here are Marie's instructions: "Break off a small twig from the end of a branch with needles on it. Put the whole branch, about 4 or 5 inches long in a pot of water and bring to boiling. Let boil one minute, then cover pot and let it steep about 10 min. Pour into a cup, and add any sweetener you like."
I drank the tea and my symptoms were relieved. I used brown sugar as a sweetener the first time, but after the first cup I realized that it was mild enough to drink unsweetened. And it did relieve my symptoms, but only temporarily. This is not a cure. It is just a palliative.
How does it work?
Here are some authoritative links that Marie provided me with:
As near as I can make out, the compounds in the tea reduce inflammation and cut down on secretions caused by inflammation. What they do not do is actually force bronchial passages open, the way the ephedrine in the Primatene tablets I used on my trip do.
This is a good home remedy to take if you have plenty of time and are at home. On a trip, it is less helpful, though you could brew a batch in advance and carry it in a thermos.