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10 Herbs or Natural Remedies for COPD

COPD Basics

January 16, 2024

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Photography by Bo Bo/Stocksy United

Photography by Bo Bo/Stocksy United

by Elizabeth Pratt

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Medically Reviewed by:

Jerlyn Jones, MS MPA RDN LD CLT

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by Elizabeth Pratt

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Jerlyn Jones, MS MPA RDN LD CLT

•••••

•••••

Supplements such as Vitamin C, D, E, melatonin, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids may be recommended by your doctor.

Each person living with COPD will experience different symptoms and may use different treatment options. Complementary or natural remedies are a form of therapy that you might choose to discuss with your doctor.

Research published in 2023 suggests that some supplements may benefit people living with COPD.

It’s important to remember that supplements can have side effects and may interact with other medications, including prescribed medication or other supplements, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Before adding any supplements to your treatment plan, be sure to contact your healthcare professional about the best options for you.

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1. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that helps with sleep. Melatonin supplements are often a synthetic version of this hormone and may be used to aid in sleep.

For people with COPD, melatonin may be useful in improving sleep quality. A 2021 study suggests melatonin may even have additional benefits for COPD beyond improving sleep. The same study suggests melatonin may also help alleviate the chronic inflammation experienced by people living with COPD.

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2. Green tea

Tea has been used medicinally in countries like China and Japan for thousands of years. A 2017 study suggests that consuming green tea at least twice a day may reduce lung inflammation and the risk of developing COPD.

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It’s an antioxidant that can help protect cells from damage. Vitamin C has been used to treat people living with COPD. Studies suggest that supplementation of more than 400 milligrams a day may be particularly helpful for improving lung function.

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4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is important for bone health. According to the NIH, vitamin D also helps the muscles and nerves and even helps the immune system fight viruses and bacteria.

If you’re deficient in vitamin D, you’re not alone. This deficiency may cause the airway walls to thicken, which may worsen COPD symptoms.

Being vitamin D deficient can also increase the risk of inflammation as well as infections. 2017 studies suggests taking vitamin D supplements might reduce the amount of moderate and severe COPD flares.

5. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help protect cells from damage. Experts believe it may help strengthen the immune system and also help prevent blood clots in blood vessels.

Studies on rats suggest taking vitamin E supplements may improve lung function and alleviate some of the impacts of COPD.

One 2023 study found that, on average, people living with COPD consume less vitamin E than those without COPD. Taking greater amounts of vitamin E was associated with a decreased rate of COPD. The study authors argue that vitamin E supplements could be an important factor in the prevention of COPD.

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6. Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in foods like flaxseed and fish but are also found in some dietary supplements like fish oil.

These supplements are anti-inflammatory. 2022 research suggests they may help make breathing easier by widening the airways and relaxing the muscles in the lungs.

7. Coenzyme Q10

People living with COPD show increased levels of oxidative stress in the lungs.

“Oxidative stress” means there are not enough antioxidants in the body to balance out free radicals, a type of chemical in the body that can harm cells, experts say.

A 2023 review of research shows coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplement with some benefits in diseases like COPD that may cause oxidative stress.

Another review of the research suggests that 90 mg of coenzyme Q10 every day for 8 weeks leads to an improvement of low oxygen levels in the blood at rest in people with COPD.

People with COPD have an increased risk of pneumonia. 2020 research shows that COPD patients with pneumonia had a faster recovery and a shorter stay in the hospital if they were given coenzyme Q10.

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8. Magnesium

Magnesium is found naturally in foods like nuts and fortified breakfast cereals. It can also be taken as a supplement.

According to a 2023 review, magnesium deficiency can impact inflammation levels, how often you have exacerbation episodes, the extent of obstruction, your quality of life, and your physical performance.

Other research shows that 300 mg of magnesium citrate taken daily may have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Another study found that intravenous magnesium sulfate may result in fewer hospital admissions, shorter hospital stays, and improvement in breathing difficulties.

9. Calcium

You may take steroids to treat your COPD. One 2020 study suggests that the bone mineral density of people living with COPD who take inhaled corticosteroids is lower when compared with those not taking these medications.

Osteoporosis, a disease that decreases bone mass, is a known complication of COPD. The American Lung Association says people who live with COPD should consider taking calcium supplements for improved bone health.

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10. Multivitamins

Multivitamins are supplements that contain a variety of different vitamins and minerals. You have likely seen your local drug store’s long aisle of choices. Taking a multivitamin can increase how much vitamin or mineral you consume daily.

You might find a multivitamin helpful because it contains several vitamins and minerals, including those discussed in this article.

The Takeaway

Taking supplements like vitamins C, D, and E, magnesium, melatonin, omega-3 fatty acids, Coenzyme Q10, and green tea might improve your lung function and make breathing easier.

Supplements can have side effects and interact with other medications. Talk with your doctor before you choose to take a supplement or remedy that contains many vitamins and minerals.

Medically reviewed on January 16, 2024

31 Sources


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About the author

Elizabeth Pratt

Elizabeth Pratt is a medical journalist based in Australia. She has a master’s degree in health communication and has worked across all forms of media. Her work has appeared in a variety of outlets like the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Huffington Post, Fox News, Salon, The Sydney Morning Herald, Escape, and Theravive. When she’s not writing stories, you’ll find her in her yellow armchair, planning her next trip. Connect with her on Twitter.

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