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Complementary Treatments for Asthma

We all know the basic health rules: eat right, exercise, drink lots of water, and get quality sleep. These are great tips for general health and well-being, and they can even help with asthma control. Of course, doing these things will not make your asthma go away. The good news is that while there is not a complementary or alternative treatment that can cure all asthma woes, some can certainly lessen the burden.

We asked our advocates, “What complementary treatment methods have helped you find some relief from asthma symptoms?” Here is what they said:

Complementary treatments for asthma

Exercise and managing air quality

Response from Becky Greiner

"Exercise is really the best complementary treatment method because it keeps my lungs and body strong. Burning beeswax candles, using an air purifier, and other little considerations for the air quality in my own home also help keep my space safe and clean."

Identifying triggers and breathing exercises

Response from Samuel Taylor

"Over the years, I have identified certain patterns in my asthma and about what helps it during a flare-up. Typically, the opposite of the trigger for the flare helps me. If it was heat and humidity that triggered me, I like to seek cool and dry air. If it was a cold morning run that triggered me, then a steamy shower helps. Generally, if I am having an asthma flare, I also seek out both cold water, without ice, and hot coffee or tea; I’m not sure that this helps my breathing, but it does make me feel more comfortable in a time of discomfort.

"Other things that have helped me manage my asthma in the past are breathing exercises that I’ve learned from yoga and fresh mountain air when I go climbing. Both things help me because they help to both give my lungs a cleanse and give my perspective a shift. At times, asthma can be a mentally exhausting challenge; it can help to have those morale-boosting activities and moments of gratitude for your breath."

Yoga and mindfulness

Response from Kyky Knight

"At least for the anxiety, I stretch and do some yoga, and those have helped me mitigate some of the 'out of control'-ness I feel with an attack. Having mindfulness and being able to navigate situations that are scary and somewhat out of my control with a clearer head has been important."

Diet, exercise, and weight management

Response from John Bottrell

"Basically, the medicines that help me maintain good asthma control are your traditional asthma medicines. Although I do find that eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly do seem to help me with my asthma control. Would you call diet and exercise a 'complementary treatment?' I guess that is for you to decide. But it works for this asthmatic."

Pursed-lip breathing

Response from Leon Lebowitz

"After all the many years of managing patients in the hospital and home-care settings, as well as keeping my own condition under control, I do not see the advantage (for me), of any of the complementary treatment methods that are available today. However, this is not to say that others will not find any or all of the alternative therapies to be of value for themselves.

"My go-to method, which has been largely successful for me, is the pursed-lip breathing technique. Using this type of breathing has enabled me to weather any initial symptoms. When I use the method, it helps me to gain control – I am able to slow down my breathing rate, prolong exhalation (by exhaling through pursed lips), and alleviate the early wheezing that may occur for me. If this does not take care of the initial episode on its own, I will then use a rescue inhaler, and I then return to normal."

Stretching and mobility

Response from Nicola Saunders

"I have found that working on my mobility helps provide some relief from asthma symptoms. Much like yoga, the mobility sessions I take part in focus on strength, flexibility, and breathing. Providing I react quickly enough, I find a good stretch that focuses on opening up my lungs and chest can reduce tightness and prevent it from escalating to a severe asthma attack."

What complementary treatments have you tried?

Depending on your asthma, these methods may or may not be helpful for you. Have you tried any alternative therapies or complementary treatment methods? We would love to hear if they were beneficial! Please share in the comments below.

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