People with chronic asthma can now breathe easy with fifth-year global studies major Caesar Ho’s new asthma-relieving pill, BreatheFree.

It all began early in Ho’s second quarter as an undergraduate at University of California, Irvine, when he developed a persistent cough. Over the next few months, he developed severe asthma – a chronic condition where the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs are easily inflamed, which causes less air to flow through the lung tissue. He was hospitalized three times in the intensive care unit, and within three months the 5’9″ college student, who had never had asthma attacks before, lost 30 pounds – and his eight-pack abs.

Three years of doctor’s appointments and prescribed corticosteroids-steroid hormones used to control asthma symptoms such as coughing and wheezing – did not relieve Ho’s asthma, and he said his condition became so bad he had trouble speaking and could only sleep half an hour a night because he had to continually gasp for air.

The asthma became so unbearable Ho said he almost had to remain attached to a bed or a desk and breathe out of a tube. Instead, he said he opted to drop out of UCI one quarter before he graduated, and transfer to UCSB. He said he knew his condition would be more tolerable because he grew up in Santa Barbara without any problems.

Due to the severity of his condition, Ho said his steroid dosage was very high, which depleted minerals and nutrients his body needed to function. However, he said his doctors did not tell him that he needed to take supplements along with the steroids, and he said his health became progressively worse.

“[Asthma] is worse than being strangled,” Ho said. “You’re trying to breathe but you can’t – it’s like someone is sitting on top of you.”

Ho said he wanted to improve his condition, so he spent over a year researching books and clinical trials to find ways to relieve asthma. He said he found that Vitamins B, C and herbs help regulate metabolism and help control spasms in asthma, and he decided to combine all these ingredients in a pill that can be taken once a day. He knows the pill works because he has tested it on himself, he said.

“I’m the guinea pig,” he said. “It has helped me a lot.”

Now that he has started to take the pill regularly, Ho said he can actually talk to people, instead of constantly struggling to breathe, and he is able to exercise three to four times a week. His success led him to found his company, BreatheFree, where he is working with three other UCI students.

Ho said no side effects are present with his pill, and his company has followed FDA guidelines. He also said he expects the pill to become publicly available in six weeks, at $65 per bottle. Additionally, 10 percent of his profits will go to the American Lung Association to help find a cure for asthma, he said.

Currently, Ho said he is negotiating contracts with drugstores such as Walgreen’s, Longs and RiteAid. BreatheFree will also sell pills on its Web site,

Ho said he hopes that the medication will help others who also suffer from asthma.

“It’s a life mission of mine to help other people,” he said. “If this doesn’t work, I’ll try something else. Even if I don’t make any money off of it, at least I tried.”