If you are interested in natural remedies and a healthy lifestyle, you may be wondering if natural remedies for COPD actually work.
The easiest and most honest answer is…maybe. Natural remedies hold promise in a lot of areas of our lives. And researchers around the world are studying everything from diet to ancient herbal remedies to vitamin and mineral supplementation. While some of the findings are encouraging, the study of natural remedies for COPD is ongoing and evidence is still limited and results are mixed.
Develop a Regimen That’s Right for You
The results you have from any natural remedies may differ significantly from those of another patient with COPD. This is a disease that can be quite different in each person. And since COPD is progressive, the benefits of natural remedies will vary with the stage of the disease.
In any case, if you are interested in pursuing natural remedies to help treat COPD, the search begins with a trip to your physician or healthcare professional. Herbs and supplements may be natural, but they can be potent. And even the most common supplements and vitamins can interact and interfere with your prescribed medications. Also, some natural remedies may have side effects including rashes, gastrointestinal irritation, allergic reactions, and even bleeding.
Talk with your physician or healthcare professional about any natural supplementation or changes in your physical activity that you want to try. You want the best results possible from any natural remedies for COPD—those that are right for your specific condition. Together, you’ll want to develop the optimal course of natural remedies and treatment along with anything else your doctor prescribes. Here are some considerations:
Improve Overall Health
This is a natural first step often overlooked or underestimated by patients—but recommended by virtually all health care professionals. The more you can change to a healthful lifestyle, the better. That’s because it may help improve your overall physical strength and health. Included in this category are:
- Quitting smoking
- Eating healthy diets rich in natural vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fats
- Remaining physically active; and getting enough sleep.
There’s also one aspect of diet that you may need to consider. We usually think of diet as helping us to keep from being overweight, believing that losing weight may make breathing easier. But as COPD progresses through the stages and breathing requires more energy, patients often tend to lose weight. It’s just as important to your overall health and physical strength to keep from being underweight.
Ease Your Breathing
One of the keys to easing your breathing is to keep airways open by reducing inflammation and clearing airways of mucus and phlegm. Omega-3 fatty acids are often recommended to decrease inflammation. Good sources are cold-water fish, flaxseed and walnuts.
Several popular herbal remedies may also have beneficial properties that you can discuss with your physician.
- Ginseng—may increase oxygen intake by improving lung function, but studies are limited and results mixed2
- Ginkgo Biloba—an antioxidant that may help clear air passages3
- Olive Leaves—an anti-inflammatory and natural antibiotic that may relieve lung infections4
Exercise Your Breathing Muscles
Yoga, massage and breathing exercises may bring more oxygen to your lungs and strengthen the muscles that help you breathe. They also may have a calming effect that helps your body relax. Relieving stress helps to reduce the hormones related to stress, such as cortisol.5
Finally, while talking with your physician about natural remedies for COPD, you may want to discuss a holistic approach that revolves around a program of pulmonary rehabilitation. This is a combination of education, exercise training, nutritional advice and counseling.
Although there is no cure for COPD, the right regimen may help reduce the number of severe flare-ups that result in hospitalization and improve your daily quality of life and longevity.
1 NIH, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), https://report.nih.gov/nihfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=77, Accessed 220.127.116.11 WebMD. Supplements and Herbal Medicine for COPD. http://www.webmd.com/lung/copd/features/supplements-for-copd?page=2. Accessed 7.23.16.
3 WebMD. Ginkgo Biloba – Topic Overview. http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/ginkgo-biloba-topic-overview. Accessed 7.23.16.
4 Natural News. COPD Treatments: Alternative Measures Ease Symptoms
http://www.naturalnews.com/027585_COPD_respiratory_illness.html. Accessed 7.23.16.
5 WebMD. Cortisol in Blood. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/cortisol-14668. Accessed 7.23.16.