10 Home Remedies to help improve COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a chronic lung condition. It can improve with treatment, and home remedies can help to relieve coughing, excess mucus production, and other symptoms. Although there is currently no cure for COPD, some simple changes in your home life can help open up the airways and improve a person’s quality of life.
Around 5% of the Vermont population is reported to have COPD. There is an average of 300-500 COPD related deaths per year in the state of Vermont. This is largely due to lack of resources, and information. Our goal at GMRI is to help spread useful information to those who need it, and continue working on finding better treatment options, & maybe one day, a cure.
Always consult with your Doctor before making any changes or taking any supplements.
The following home remedies and natural treatments can help people with COPD manage their symptoms and slow disease progression:
1. Quit smoking
Smoking is the leading cause of COPD in the United States and is responsible for around 90% of COPD-related deaths. Tobacco smoke irritates the airways within the lungs and causes airways to narrow, making it difficult for air to pass in and out. This leads to more frequent 'flare-up's and exacerbations that might send you to the ER. Smoking also reduces the effectiveness of inhaled medications that are used to treat COPD.
Quitting smoking is the most effective action that someone who smokes and has COPD can take to slow disease progression. For help quitting or more information, you can visit:
2. Improve air quality in the home
Many people don't realize how many irritants can be found inside the home that can make breathing more difficult for people with COPD.
People can improve air quality in their home by:
Limiting contact with household chemicals. Try to use natural cleaning products over chemical ones.
Opening windows frequently to increase airflow through your home.
Using an air purifier where you spend most of your time, but make sure to clean it out regularly to prevent any build ups.
Vacuuming and removing clutter to prevent dust from building up (removing clutter also reduces risk of falls)
Washing bed linens every week to reduce dust mites and pet dander.
Avoid smoking inside (or quit altogether). Smoke pollutants can also come from your wood stove, fire pit, even your barbeque. Try to make sure you stay out of the way of it or clear it out quickly.
3. Practice breathing exercises
Breathing exercises can lessen the symptoms of COPD by strengthening the muscles you use to take breaths and improve your ability to exercise.
A recent study compared groups of people with COPD who used breathing exercises with people who did not for 4–15 weeks.
The Breathing exercises included:
-Pursed-lip breathing. This is when a person inhales through their nose and exhales through tightly pursed lips.
-Diaphragm breathing. This means contracting the diaphragm in order to breathe more deeply. The belly visibly expands while breathing in, and it deflates when breathing out.
-Pranayama. This is a controlled breathing technique common in yoga practice. Pranayama involves concentrating on areas of the body involved in breathing.
The researchers found no differences in symptoms such as shortness of breath, but people who used breathing exercises experienced improved exercise tolerance, which in turn improved their quality of life.
4. Manage stress levels
COPD can cause sudden symptom flare-ups, or exacerbations. Anxiety and depression are common amongst the general population, and can increase the risk of flare-ups in people who suffer with COPD.
One study found that people with COPD who also had anxiety or depression were more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of leaving. Emotional stress has shown to weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of respiratory infections.
5. Maintain a healthy weight
Many people associate "healthy weight" with being thin. However, being too thin can be just as problematic. People with COPD who are underweight have a higher risk of mortality than people with COPD who are overweight. Researchers are still investigating the impact of obesity on COPD outlook.
People with COPD who are underweight are more likely to experience:
weakness in the breathing muscles
reduced ability to exercise
reduced lung capacity
A balanced diet can help improve lung function, & has metabolic and heart benefits.
6. Develop muscle strength
Many people with COPD have difficulty exercising because breathing is harder. However, avoiding exercise can and will worsen symptoms over time.
Walking, jogging, and running, biking, Kayaking etc. - any kind of cardio is great. Swimming and water based exercises have shown to be the most beneficial for individuals with COPD. Weight lifting can be beneficial as well. Work in intervals to slowly build up your lung strength. Pay attention to the signs your body gives you and be prepared for any emergencies (if you have an inhaler keep it with you) especially during exercise. Consult with your Doctor to see if and what types of exercises would be good for you depending on many factors.
Supplements for COPD
A range of supplements can help improve the symptoms of COPD by controlling inflammation and reducing symptoms. As always, consult with your Doctor before taking any supplements. Supplements for COPD include:
7. Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency may increase inflammation of the airways and reduce the body’s ability to clear bacteria.
A 2015 study found that people with severe COPD tended to have low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements may improve some symptoms of COPD and improve flare-ups. You can buy vitamin D supplements in drug stores or online.
8. Co-enzyme Q10 and creatine
Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and creatine are natural chemicals that are involved in supplying energy to the body’s cells.
A 2013 study looked at whether a combination of creatine and CoQ10 supplements would improve COPD symptoms in people with chronic respiratory failure. After 2 months, people who took both creatine and CoQ10 supplements had improved exercise tolerance, less shortness of breath, improved flare-ups, and an improved quality of life. People can buy CoQ10 in drug stores or online.
People can also use essential oils to open up the airways and clear mucus from the lungs. You can use essential oils in a diffuser or dilute them in a carrier oil and apply to the skin. Essential oils for COPD include:
9. Eucalyptus oil
Eucalyptus oil contains a natural compound called eucalyptol. Eucalyptol may have the following benefits for people with COPD:
has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
opens up the airways in the lungs
reduces mucus production
helps clear mucus from the lungs
prevents flare-ups in moderate to severe COPD
The results of one study suggested adding 12 drops of eucalyptus oil to 150 milliliters of boiling water and inhaling up to three times per day. There is a wide range of eucalyptus oils to choose from online.
10. Myrtol standardized
Myrtol standardized is an essential oil derived from pine, lime, and eucalyptus.
A recent review of 15 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) found that myrtol standardized is a safe and effective treatment for both chronic bronchitis and COPD.
GMRI is currently conducting a COPD study on a medication that may reduce the frequency of exacerbations. During the study, you would receive study medication for free, as well as medical exams and frequent check ups by a board certified physician at no cost, with no insurance involved. You may be compensated for your time and travel expenses.
To find out if you qualify, call (802) 855-8368, or sign up on our website here .