Related Terms

  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • COPD
  • Emphysema

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease that gets worse over time. It makes it hard to move air in and out of the lungs. This results in coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two forms of COPD. Emphysema is damage to tiny air sacs of the lungs. Chronic bronchitis is damage to airways. The damage may be due to cigarette smoking, toxins, irritants, or genetics.

Treatment includes medicine to improving breathing and oxygen. In some cases, surgery may be needed to partially remove or replace the lung. Natural therapies may help to ease symptoms. They should only be used along with medical treatment. Let your care team know about any herbs or treatments you are trying.

Natural Therapies

Likely Effective

  • Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles for symptom relief. It is thought to be help improve breathing for those with COPD. C2-C4
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid. It is thought to reduce the risk of flare-ups. B1, B2, B11, B13, B15, B17-B19, B21, B22 (Note: NAC may slow blood clotting.)
  • Traditional Chinese exercise, such as Qigong and Tai Chi. Use movement, breathing, and meditation to cultivate the life energy that is believed to flow through the body. It is thought to promote lung function and activity tolerance. May also improve quality of life. A1-A9

May Be Effective

  • Chinese herbal formulas , such as Bushen Fangchuan or Bushen Yiqi. May reduce symptoms, exercise capacity, lung function, and quality of life. B12, B16, B20
  • Cineole (the main part of eucalyptus oil) may reduce symptoms. B6
  • Ginseng is an herb that may improve lung function and quality of life. B8
  • Osteopathic Manipulation thought to improve exercise capacity. C1
  • Pelargonium sidoides is a plant that grows in Africa. It may reduce flare up when used with standard treatment. B9

Unlikely to Be Effective

  • Magnesium is a mineral that is unlikely to ease symptoms. B10, B14

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as:

  • Creatine causes the muscles to hold water. It can cause dehydration in the rest of the body. It is important to drink extra water. Talk to you doctor if you have bipolar disorder, kidney disease, or diabetes. It may make your condition worse.
  • NAC may slow blood clotting. Talk to your doctor if you have a bleeding disorder.

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