As the temperature of the atmosphere falls, the cold air we breathe has a direct effect on our nasal passages, sinuses and lungs.

The body reacts by producing more catarrh and congestion and causes spasm and contraction of the tubules the lungs, resulting in wheezing and difficulty in breathing.

Many people who suffer from asthma get worse attacks at this time of year due to a combination of the cold, catarrh and infection and often need repeat courses of antibiotics and steroids in addition to their life-saving inhalers.

Many patients are able to greatly reduce the severity or frequency of asthma attacks and chest infections and recover more quickly with holistic treatment.

Ayurvedic medicine states that allergy is only a secondary cause of asthma.

The primary cause of disease is a combination of wrong eating habits or diet, mental or emotional stress and exposure to bad weather conditions which disrupt the equilibrium of the body's three main energy systems.

Asthma sufferers should try and avoid exposure to the cold and to dust. Try taking regular steam inhalation with eucalyptus oil or even tea leaves boiled in water.

Tea leaves contain natural chemicals which help to dilate the lung tubules. Drinking regular cups of tea to which fresh root ginger or ginger powder and honey are added is very helpful in promoting proper breathing and preventing wheezing.

Herbs and spices contain natural substances called alkaloids which help to prevent or counteract the contraction of the tubes in the lungs.

My own formula contains a combination of ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom powder.

Three common anti-allergic herbs readily available are turmeric, Indian gooseberry (amla) and long pepper.

Two very useful and safe ayurvedic herbal preparations are called chyavanprash and sitopaladi. These are made from the pulp of Indian gooseberry combined with other herbs and spices and stimulate the body's immune system and help relieve congestion, catarrh and wheezing.

They are also taken regular intervals during the year to prevent asthma attacks.

As a simple and effective home remedy, boil quarter of a teaspoon of turmeric powder and half a teaspoon of ginger powder in milk or water. Add a teaspoon of honey and drink every night during winter.

Avoid taking fried foods or those which are sour, cold and heavy, such as chips, yogurt, ice-cream, sour fruit juices, too many potatoes, crisps and dry fruit.

Try and prevent mental and emotional stress with regular pranayam or yogic breathing and gentle yoga exercises which also help to strengthen the lungs, calm the nerves and stimulate the immune system.

Daily head massage of the scalp, sinuses, neck, throat, chest and feet with eucalyptus and lavender oils ten minutes before a shower or bath is also very beneficial.