Breathing Geek

Ask A Geek: Alternative asthma therapies

Prior to 2020, the Lung Health Foundation operated as the Ontario Lung Association. Enjoy this content from our archives.


Dear BreathingGeek,
I’m trying to be more mindful about the kinds of chemicals I’m exposing myself to. Are there any natural remedies for my (honestly pretty mild) asthma, or am I stuck with my inhalers?
– Natural in Napanee

Dear NiN,

“Chemicals” is a scary word, right up there with “toxins” and “dial-up internet”.

Kermit the frog shakes in fear 

Relax, Kermie. We’re going to get to the bottom of this.

You’re not alone in wondering about the bajillion substances we’re exposed to every day, or wondering if typical western medicine is meeting your needs. But here’s the thing: asthma inhalers and other prescribed meds save lives. Full stop. And keeping your asthma under control is a huge boost to your quality of life even if it’s been years since your last attack.

Medications are carefully studied, but way less research goes into evaluating alternative therapies. And that word, “natural” – what does it even mean anyway?

The best non-drug way to reduce your symptoms is to figure out what triggers your asthma (at home or even work) and limit your exposure. You can learn about asthma triggers here.

When your health care provider prescribed your asthma meds, they carefully weighed the benefits vs. the risk and severity of side effects. That’s why I strongly urge you to continue to take your prescribed medications, even if you’re also exploring things like:

  • Acupuncture: Although studies have shown it to help control pain, there is not enough information to support acupuncture’s use in asthma management.
  • Essential oils, herbal supplements: Tread caaaarefully, as some of these can just as easily trigger asthma symptoms. We don’t recommend them. Inform your doc if you’ve used any, because they can even interact with other medications.
  • Hypnosis: Nope. No clinical evidence. Nada.
  • Yoga: BreathingGeeks are huge fans of yoga for mental and physical well being – but do it because you love it and value a healthy lifestyle, not because you expect it to control symptoms.

And one last thing – pretty much everything is a chemical!

Live long and prosper,

BreathingGeek


Have a question for our resident BreathingGeek? Email kallen@lungontario.ca, or click here to access our Lung Health Info Line (phone or live chat), where you can speak directly to a Certified Respiratory Educator. It’s free and confidential

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