Massage and relaxation therapy

Besides massage, relaxation therapy techniques include meditation, biofeedback, hypnosis and progressive muscle relaxation. It's unclear whether any of these techniques directly help with asthma, but they do seem to reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being.

With regular exercise, incorporating relaxation techniques into your life can help you feel better overall.

Vitamins and supplements

More research is needed to determine whether vitamins or other nutrients may help ease asthma symptoms in people who have a deficiency. Three that seem promising include:

  • Antioxidants. People with severe asthma appear to have decreased levels of these protective nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants such as magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin E may have some effect on asthma, but more study is needed.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Found in several types of fish, healthy oils containing omega-3s may reduce the inflammation that leads to asthma symptoms. They also appear to have a number of other health benefits. It isn't clear whether omega-3s from vegetable sources, such as flaxseed and canola oil, have the same beneficial effects as omega-3s found in fish.
  • Vitamin D. Some people with severe asthma have a vitamin D deficiency. Researchers are exploring whether vitamin D may reduce asthma symptoms in some people.

A multivitamin or supplement pill may help you get nutrients, but the best way to make sure you're getting adequate nutrition is to eat a varied diet rich in fresh, unprocessed foods. There's no downside to increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as cold-water fish, nuts, greens and ground flaxseed.

Consider the evidence and safety

More well-designed studies are needed before researchers can make a clear judgment about which complementary and alternative asthma therapies are likely to help. Talk to your doctor before trying any complementary or alternative asthma treatments, and don't stop prescribed medications or other medical treatment.

Aug. 29, 2014 See more In-depth