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Table of Contents > Articles > Lycopene for exercise-induced asthma ...
Lycopene for exercise-induced asthma

A new study suggests that lycopene, a substance contained in tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruit may help relieve exercise-induced asthmatic symptoms. More than 17 million people in the United States suffer from asthma, a serious respiratory condition resulting from the swelling of the airways and excessive mucus production. While asthmatic symptoms may be triggered by respiratory infections or allergies, exercising can also trigger an asthma attack, possibly by increasing the production of harmful molecules called free radicals, in the body. Antioxidants, sometimes called free radical scavengers, are substances that attack free radicals, removing them from the body. Medical researchers have linked antioxidants with improved respiratory function.

Some of the better-known antioxidants include beta-carotene and vitamins C and E. Lycopene is another powerful antioxidant that appears to protect certain cells from damage caused by free radicals. Recently, an Israeli research team conducted a study to determine whether or not lycopene supplements can prevent or reduce exercise-induced asthma. Scientists had 20 asthma patients, half of whom received 30 mg of lycopene per day, and half of whom received a placebo, run on a treadmill and then assessed their breathing. They did this at the beginning of the 7-day treatment period and again at the end of the 7 days. The scientists found that patients who took lycopene supplements had significantly less difficulty blowing air out of their lungs compared to those who did not take supplements. Given these results, researchers in this study suggest that "natural plant antioxidants such as lycopene, vitamin C . . . and carotenoids should be integrated in the prevention of exercise-induced asthma."

As always, it is important to consult your doctor or healthcare provider before adding herbs and dietary supplements to your healthcare regimen. This advice is especially important if you are taking any drugs, as there are a number of documented interactions between supplements and drugs. There is evidence, for example, that grapefruit (which contains lycopene) may have a negative interaction with some drugs, resulting in serious medical problems.


Neuman I, Nahun H, Ben-Amotz A. Reduction of exercise-induced asthma oxidative stress by lycopene, a natural antioxidant. Allergy. 2000;55(12):1184-1189.

Review Date: December 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Vitamin E

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