Asthma: Barking up the Right Tree with Flavonoids

Dr Paul Clayton 2003

Asthma is characterised by a chronic inflammation of the airways. For this reason, much recent research has concentrated on finding anti-inflammatory agents which might be used to treat the condition. New drugs are in the pipeline, but there have been worrying reports of toxicity. So what can nature offer?

The best naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agents are the flavonoids (yet again!), and a recent study has showed that an extract of flavonoids from the bark of the Maritime Pine (known as pycnogenol) is surprisingly effective in reducing the severity of asthma(1).

Pycnogenol is expensive, but luckily, we don’t all need to start chewing pine bark. There are many other flavonoid extracts which are as or more effective as antiinflammatory agents. These include the curcuminoids in turmeric, the zingiberols in ginger, quercitin (from apple and onion), and even the catechins in tea.

The moral is, eat more flavonoids – especially as they seem to protect against so many other diseases(2).


1 Hosseini S et al, J Med Food, 4:201-209, 2001

2 Knekt P et al, Am J Clin Nut, 76:560-568, 2002