Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

While many people claim alternative remedies reduce asthma symptoms, in most cases more research is needed to see if they work and if they have possible side effects, especially in people with allergies and asthma. A number of other alternative treatments have been tried for asthma, but there's no clear, proven benefit from treatments such as:

  • Breathing techniques. These include structured breathing programs such as the Buteyko method, the Papworth method, lung-muscle training and yoga breathing exercises (pranayama).
  • Acupuncture. This technique has roots in traditional Chinese medicine. It involves placing very thin needles at strategic points on your body. Acupuncture is safe and generally painless, but evidence for its use in asthma is inconclusive.
  • Relaxation techniques. Techniques such as meditation, biofeedback, hypnosis and progressive muscle relaxation may help with asthma by reducing tension and stress, though there's no clear evidence that it improves asthma.
  • Herbal remedies and dietary supplements. A number of herbal remedies and dietary supplements have been tried for asthma, including: bitter orange, omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil and flaxseed) and vitamin C. Study results have been mixed.
  • Traditional Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine often combines herbs to treat specific disorders. More research is needed.
  • Homeopathy. Homeopathy aims to stimulate the body's self-healing response using very small doses of substances that cause symptoms. In the case of asthma, homeopathic remedies are made from substances that generally trigger an asthmatic reaction, such as pollen or weeds.
  • Chiropractic. Practitioners claim that spinal manipulation that aligns the vertebrae in the spin can improve asthma symptoms. Studies haven't found chiropractic to be an effect asthma treatment, however.

Talk to your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements or trying homeopathy — some of these treatments may cause potentially dangerous side effects and may interact with other medications.

May. 19, 2011