- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Herbal drugs used in the treatment of asthma: How herbal drugs treat asthma?
Herbal drug theophylline and its derivatives are extensively used in the treatment of asthma. Collectively they all compounds are known as methyl xanthines. Theophylline, Caffeine and theobromine are the methylated xanthines which occur naturally and used in the treatment of asthma. They are consumed as beverages in almost every house.
Individual herbal drugs for the treatment of Asthma-
1. Caffeine- Biological source of Caffeine is the leaves of Thea Senesis, Coffea Arabica, Theobroma Cacao and Cola Acuminata. Caffeine is a main constituent of tea and coffee which we daily drink. So, now you must have got an idea that how important role does a cup of tea or coffee can play in the treatment of asthma?
2. Theophylline- Biological source of Theophylline is the leaves of Thea senesis only. Theophylline is also an important herbal drug which acts as bronchodilator. The use of theophylline as antiasthmatic drugs is increasing day by day.
3. Theobromine- Theobromine is least active antiasthmatic drug and obtained from the leaves of Theobroma Cacao. Although the potency of theobroma is somewhat lesser than the other methyl xanthines but, still it can be used for the herbal treatment of asthma.
How herbal drugs act to cure asthma?
There are several mechanism of actions of methyl xanthines through which they inhibit the action of asthma. Here, I am discussing the three most common mechanism of action for the treatment of asthma.
1. Blockade of Adenosine receptors- Adenosine is the local mediator in CNS, CVS and other useful organs in the body. The main functions of adenosine in the body include- Contraction of smooth muscles (Especially bronchial muscles), Dilation of cerebral blood vessels, and Depression of cardiac pace maker and hinders the gastric secretion. Methyl xanthines or herbal drugs for asthma act opposite to the adenosine by blocking the receptors of the same in the body.
2. Inhibition of phosphodiesterase enzyme- Phosphodiesterase enzyme is responsible for the degradation of cAMP in the body. Thus inhibition of phosphodiesterase results in the increased concentration of cAMP in the body. The increased concentration of cAMP is responsible for the broncholdilating effect and hence useful in the curing of asthma.
3. Methyl Xanthines also act by releasing the Calcium ions from the sarcoplasmic reticulum, especially in skeletal and cardiac muscles. Increased concentration of Calcium in the tissues also results in bronchodilation.
The therapeutic range of methyl xanthines, especially of theophylline is very small hence there is very chance of development of adverse effects at the upper edge of therapeutic concentration range. The main side effects of theophylline is CNS related and include agitation, headache and at very high doses can cause convulsions and shock also.