Alternative Treatments for COPD
treatments will not cure COPD, but they may help to relieve symptoms and
enhance quality of life. Alternative treatments can be used in conjunction with
standard treatments. However, they have not been proven to be effective in
scientific studies, and you should always consult your doctor before trying any
of these options to avoid complications or potential drug interactions.
Herbs & Supplements
A number of over-the-counter herbs, dietary
supplements, and even foods and beverages may be able to help relieve symptoms of
COPD. These can be used in addition to your regular medical treatments. Be sure
to talk to your physician before taking any herbs or supplements. They could
trigger side effects or interact with your medications.
- Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation. This may help
improve your breathing. You can get these as supplements or from food sources
such as flaxseed, soybeans, canola oil, walnuts, and cold-water fatty fish like
salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines.
- Vitamin E has been associated with improved lung function in
some studies on COPD patients.
- Antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
Foods rich in antioxidants include red grapes, green tea, turmeric, broccoli,
tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and kale.
- Eucalyptus oil is a common expectorant. Adding a few drops to
your humidifier may help you breathe easier.
In high doses, omega-3
fatty acids and vitamin E can cause bleeding problems, especially if you are
taking blood-thinning medication. Always talk to your doctor before taking
There is growing evidence that mind/body
interactions can help relieve some symptoms of COPD and enhance overall quality
It is estimated that 40 percent of people
with COPD also experience depression and anxiety (Stage, et al., 2006). The ongoing stress of living with a serious condition
like COPD is enormous. Reducing negative thoughts, fears, and overall stress
should be included in your routine. For many COPD sufferers, relaxation
techniques such as meditation, guided imagery,
and relaxation therapy can significantly ease
Yoga & Breathing Techniques
A key aspect of yoga practice is proper,
controlled breathing. Pranayama includes hundreds of
deep-breathing exercises. This facet of yoga can significantly help COPD
sufferers by teaching them to expand their lungs thus promoting deep breathing
and reducing stress.
This technique, used in traditional Chinese
medicine, involves placing very thin needles in strategic points on the body.
Some studies have shown that people with COPD found relief from some symptoms
with the use of acupuncture. Acupressure
is based on the same idea but uses pressure instead of needles.
Similar results can be achieved.
Other Things You Can Do
The following are additional steps you can
take to feel better and slow the damage to your lungs:
- Exercise regularly to strengthen the muscles
that help you breathe and to improve overall strength.
- Quit smoking; avoid secondhand smoke and
other lung irritants.
- Get vaccinated for flu and pneumonia.
- Clear your airways with controlled coughing.
Drinking plenty of water and using a humidifier can help.
- Stay away from crowds to avoid germs that
might irritate your lungs.
- Avoid breathing cold air.
- Get plenty of sleep.