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Houseplants & Asthma

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Houseplants & Asthma

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Overview

People with asthma are required to take medication when their asthma is triggered. Asthma medication is not only costly, it can cause undesirable side effects. Some asthmatics turn to natural, homeopathic cures in order to control their asthma symptoms. Still others look to other natural fixes, such as the use of houseplants to help control their asthma. At the same time, some houseplants can trigger allergies.

Filtering Plants

In 1984, NASA scientists conducted tests on houseplants to determine their ability to filter air. That and subsequent studies determined that some of the houseplants they tested could filter out toxins and contaminants within a home. Many doctors and healthcare workers suggest houseplants for asthma patients because of their air-purifying properties. Although some patients do report an improvement in symptoms, it has never been conclusively proven that houseplants alleviate symptoms of asthma.

Plant Allergies

Asthma is often related to allergies. A person who has allergies that affect the lungs has asthma attacks with exposure to allergens. Some people have sensitivities (allergies) to certain varieties of houseplants. The benjimina ficus is the most notable houseplant known for triggering allergies that cause respiratory reactions. If you have a benjimina ficus and are experiencing asthma symptoms, ask someone to move the plant out of your house.

Mold

If you are an asthmatic who is allergic to mold, your allergies can be triggered by the soil in your planters. Houseplants require moisture, and that moisture is the ideal breeding ground for mold and other fungi. The mold typically grows on the surface of the soil. Watering disturbs the surface and releases spores into the air, which can trigger an asthma attack.

Scratch Tests

Allergy scratch tests are performed to determine a patient's allergic reactions to certain substances. If you suspect that your asthma is being triggered by a reaction to a houseplant, consult an allergist. When you visit the doctor, take the name of the plant along with a leaf sample.

Warning

Some asthma and allergy reactions to plants may be related to other triggers. The benjimina ficus, rubber tree and other plants in the rubber tree family all secrete a substance that is related to latex. If you are allergic to latex, you might experience symptoms of asthma if you inhale some of the dried plant secretions.

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About this Author

Cyn Vela is a freelance writer and professional blogger. Her work has been published on dozens of websites, as well as in local print publications. Vela's articles usually focus on where her passions lie: writing, web development, blogging, parenting, gardening, and health and wellness. She studied English literature at Del Mar College, and at the University of Texas at San Antonio.