Newly released results from a trial in New Zealand show that a simple pill is effective in reducing the symptoms and getting chronic sufferers off their medication.
Asthma is restrictive, ruins your sleep, and doctors warn it must be taken seriously.
Australia has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world. One in ten suffer from it, but now an all natural remedy has the potential to change millions of lives.More stories from Today Tonight
Colleen Brady has become something of an expert in asthma. Her son James suffers severely and together they have learnt the workings of the hospital emergency department intimately.
“We’d probably be at the hospital once every three weeks,” Colleen said.
Tom Bogdanowicz is not only worried about his son Noah's asthma but also his daily need for preventer medication - corticosteroidal inhalers.
“Obviously we were keen for him to ease off the steroids if possible, and cut down on his inhalers,” Tom said.
Then he heard of a new study searching for asthmatic kids to trial Lyprinol. Study leader and GP Dr Jim Lello wanted to make sure a seafood pill could help asthmatic children without causing allergic reactions.
“We were exploring whether we could reduce the dose moderately of their inhaled corticosteroids,” Dr Lello said.
Lyprinol has some big claims. Green Lipped mussels have the highest concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids of all seafood and they are supposed to help inflammation.
Pharmacist and medical herbalist Gerald Quigley has been prescribing Lyprinol as an anti-inflammatory for his osteoarthritis and asthmatic patients for years.
“Asthma is a challenging issue, because there's a difficulty in breathing and very tight chest. So any nutrient we can use to relax those muscles, in a similar way to what the drugs do, the inhaled steroids do, have got to be worth considering,” Quigley said.
Half of the 70 children on the trial were given Lyprinol and the other half a placebo - two pills twice a day. Breath and lung capacity were recorded to gauge the success.
“I was thinking how is this going to work, because all he'd ever had before was drugs, and he kept having attacks. If all the drugs won’t work, how can something natural work,” Colleen said.
Five months into the trial James is down to just two puffs daily.
“He was happier because he was getting more sleep. He wasn't as short fused and that was really good - it made things easier.”
But even better, he has had no asthma attacks since.
“Before he was on the Lyprinol, I would have been at hospital with him in a six month period probably seven or eight times. After he was on the Lyprinol it’s been two or three times a year at the most.”
Noah's sleep improved and like James his doctor has slowly decreased his reliance on inhalers.
“I could run around a bit more without getting a bit of asthma, and even if I did it wasn’t that strong so I could run around a bit more,” Noah said.
Dr Lello's trial has also shown there are no allergy concerns.
“Any study that shows a potential for a reduction in asthma attacks has got to be welcome news for people involved in the treatment of asthma,” Dr Lello said.
However he warns this doesn't mean asthmatic kids can give away their puffers - a warning echoed by Asthma Foundation CEO Michelle Goldman.
“The important point is that parents should not be giving their children Lyprinol in place of medication, that it should be used in addition to the medication prescribed by their doctor,” Goldman said.
But with Lyprinol proving to help both adults and now kids with asthma, it seems the tiny natural pill does pack a big punch.
“What’s in green lipped mussels is the amazing thing, if they've managed to put it in that pill and give it that sort of magic power in the pill that’s great. It’s really effective,” Tom concluded.
Lyprinol tablets can be bought at any pharmacy.Contact details
This reporter is on Twitter at @LauraSparkes7