Asthma currently affects about 10 million Americans. With overall incidence and asthma related deaths rising exponentially from year to year, new and affective treatments can’t be developed fast enough.

But a recent study, published in Nutrition Research, shows that an extract from the purple skin of the passion fruit may hold the key to an effective natural treatment.

Study subjects were randomly assigned to receive either 150mg of passion fruit peel extract, or placebo, every day for four weeks.

At the end of the study, coughing amongst test group subjects had been reduced by 76.2%, wheezing was reduced by 80.9% and people experiencing shortness of breath fell from 90% to 10%.

However the control group saw only very minor differences in the incidence of asthma symptoms.

Researchers are still unsure of the exact mechanisms at work, but there are two theories being considered.

The first being the ability of the powerful antioxidants found in the passion fruit peel to help reduce bronchial inflammation. While the other involves the flavonoids’—which are powerful antioxidants in their own right—ability to inhibit histamine release and reduce allergy-related inflammation.

At just 42 people, the sample of asthmatics studied was admittedly small. But the results of this double-blind, placebo-controlled study still offer exciting possibilities for the future of natural asthma treatments.