Alternative Treatments

The goals of COPD alternative treatments are to relieve symptoms and enhance quality of life. Alternative treatments can be used in conjunction with standard treatments, but since the actual scientific evidence is generally incomplete, you should always consult your doctor before trying any of these options.

Herbs and Supplements

While scientific evidence is limited, a number of over-the-counter herbs, dietary supplements, and even foods and beverages have shown promise for relieving symptoms common to COPD. These can be used in addition to your regular medical treatments, but be sure to talk to your physician about any herbs and supplements you’re taking or plan to take. They could trigger side effects or interact with your doctor-prescribed medications or supplements.

  • Omega-3s are known to decrease inflammation in the body, and as a result they may enhance improve breathing. You can get these in supplement form or from oily fish, flaxseed, soybeans, canola oil, and walnuts.
  • Vitamin E has been associated with improved lung function in some studies on COPD sufferers.
  • Antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, so boost your intake with antioxidant-rich red grapes, green tea, and turmeric, or vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and kale.
  • Eucalyptus essential oil is known as a common expectorant. Adding a few drops to your humidifier may help you breathe easier.

Mind/Body Approaches

Though clinical research into the benefits of mind/body approaches and COPD remain limited, there is growing evidence that mind/body interactions can help abate some symptoms and enhance overall quality of life.

Some studies have estimated that nearly 80% of people with severe COPD suffer from depression and anxiety as a result of their condition. The ongoing stress of living with a serious condition like COPD is enormous. Alleviating or reducing the associated negative thoughts, fears, and overall stress should be included as part of an overall treatment protocol. For many COPD sufferers, relaxation techniques such as meditationguided imagery, and relaxation therapy can significantly ease symptoms.

Yoga and Breathing Techniques

A key aspect of yoga practice is the science of proper, controlled breathing, called pranayamaPranayama includes hundreds of deep-breathing exercises. This facet of yoga can significantly help COPD sufferers by teaching them to expand the lungs, promoting deep breathing, and reducing stress. Other potentially helpful practices include tai chi, another mind/body approach used to enhance overall health and wellness.


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, based on the same schema as acupuncture but using pressure instead of needles, can achieve a similar effect.