Natural Remedies For COPD

  • Hima Saxena Masters in Pharmacy - M.Pharm, Uttarakhand Technical University, India
  • Pranjal Ajit Yeole Bachelor's of Biological Sciences, Biology/Biological Sciences, General, University of Warwick, UK
  • Zayan Siddiqui BSc in Chemistry with Biomedicine, KCL, MSc in Drug Discovery and Pharma Management, UCL


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a respiratory condition characterised by the obstruction of airflow in the lungs. It encompasses chronic bronchitis and emphysema and is often caused by long-term exposure to irritants, such as smoking or environmental pollutants.1 

While conventional medical treatments such as inhalers and medications play a crucial role in alleviating symptoms, more people are now embracing natural remedies to complement their COPD management. These natural remedies often involve lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, and herbal supplements. They offer a holistic approach to symptom relief, focusing not only on the disease itself but also on improving overall well-being. Natural remedies can help reduce inflammation, enhance lung function, and promote a better quality of life for COPD patients.

In this article, we'll explore the importance of natural remedies in COPD management, their potential benefits, and their role in improving the lives of those living with this challenging respiratory condition.

Understanding COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema which cause difficulty in breathing.1

Symptoms of COPD

The symptoms of COPD include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough with phlegm 
  • Frequent chest infections
  • Wheezing
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Swelling in ankles, feet or legs
  • Tightness in chest

Causes of COPD

The causes of COPD include:

  • Exposure to tobacco smoke due to smoking or second-hand inhalation of smoke
  • Occupational exposure to dust, fumes or chemicals 
  • Indoor air pollution
  • Asthma in childhood
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency

Natural remedies for COPD

There are several natural remedies and lifestyle changes that can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals with COPD. 

Lifestyle modifications

Dietary interventions

A well-balanced diet can help reduce inflammation and heart disease risk, as well as improve muscle strength and lung function.2

Foods to eat

The foods that are beneficial for COPD include–

  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Fresh fruits
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Fish
  • Canola, safflower and corn oils
Foods to avoid

The foods that should be avoided for COPD include–

  • Table sugar
  • Candy
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Pastries
  • Regular soft drinks
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Fried food
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oils

Smoking cessation

Smoking cessation is a crucial component of your COPD management. The chemicals found in tobacco smoke can increase lung damage and, over time increase the risk of reduced lung function. If you continue smoking, the effectiveness of COPD medications may be reduced.3

Regular exercise

Regular physical activity for COPD patients can improve:

  • Muscle strength
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression

The exercises that are suitable for COPD patients include–

  • Endurance exercise

Doing exercises such as walking or cycling can improve your stamina, make it easier for you to breathe when you're active, reduce the feeling of being out of breath, help your heart recover faster after exercise, and make your muscles work better.4

  • Resistance training

These exercises involve weights and resistance bands and help improve muscle mass and make them stronger.4

  • Respiratory muscle training

Strengthening the breathing muscles through inspiratory muscle training (IMT) can improve your ability to do physical activities, reduce breathing difficulties, and enhance your quality of life in COPD. IMT involves a combination of strength and endurance exercises for the respiratory muscles.4

Stress management

Stress worsens COPD symptoms, causing more shortness of breath, coughing, and exacerbations. Stress-induced anxiety makes breathing harder, creating a cycle of increased anxiety and worse symptoms.

Stress weakens the immune system, making COPD patients more prone to respiratory infections. Managing these symptoms by speaking to a mental health professional or support groups, as well as techniques like deep breathing exercises, can help.

Herbal remedies 

Here are some herbal treatments and remedies that have been explored for COPD:

  1. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus oil can be inhaled to help ease breathing by alleviating congestion and reducing mucus production.5

  1. Ginseng

Ginseng has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that could benefit people with COPD. It may help with breathing due to improved lung function and exercise capabilities.6

  1. Turmeric

Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (helps protect your cells against free radicals which can cause diseases such as heart disease and cancer) and may help reduce inflammation in the airways.5

  1. Ginger

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and may help relax the airway muscles by breaking down the mucus, making it easier to breathe.5

  1. Peppermint

The peppermint herb is rich in menthol which can help soothe the respiratory tract muscles.5    

  1. Oregano 

Oregano oil contains compounds with potential antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It may help with respiratory symptoms and overall lung health.5

  1. Holy basil

Holy basil is beneficial in COPD due to its immune system-regulating, cough-suppressing, and mucus-loosening effects.5


Here are some supplements that are commonly considered for COPD management:

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, often found in fish oil supplements, have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation in the airways and improve lung function.7

  1. N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

NAC is a medication recommended for COPD that can help thin mucus and reduce coughing, making it easier to clear mucus from the airways.8 

  1. Vitamins

Vitamin D supports the immune system and reduces inflammation. Vitamin A helps support immune function and reduce the risk of respiratory infections. Vitamins C and E, as antioxidants, can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the airways, potentially improving lung function.9

Breathing exercises and techniques

Here are some breathing exercises and techniques that may be helpful for individuals with COPD:

  1. Pursed-Lip Breathing

This technique can help increase the amount of oxygen that reaches your lungs and reduce the work of breathing.

  • Inhale slowly through your nose for two seconds.
  • Exhale through pursed lips, taking about twice as long to complete the exhale.
  1. Diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing)

This technique helps you use your diaphragm more efficiently, which can improve your lung function.

  • Start by breathing in through your nose.
  • Place one hand lightly on your stomach so that you are aware of rising and falling movements.
  • Breathe out through your mouth twice or thrice as the time you took to inhale.
  1. Deep breathing exercises

This exercise can help increase your lung capacity and improve oxygen exchange.

  • Sit or stand in a relaxed position.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, expanding your lungs as much as possible
  • Hold your breath for a few seconds
  • Exhale slowly 
  1. Huff method

This method helps to move mucus from the small airways to the larger ones, making it easier to expel. 

  • Sit up in a comfortable position with your back straight
  • Breathe normally through your nose
  • With your mouth open, exhale forcefully and audibly, saying "huff" as you do so
  • While "huffing," contract your abdominal muscles to help generate a burst of airflow
  • Repeat the "huff" coughing several times, aiming to move mucus from your small airways into the larger ones.
  • After performing several "huffs," take a few normal breaths to recover
  1. Paced breathing

This technique helps optimize oxygen exchange and reduces the feeling of breathlessness in COPD.

  • While walking, establish a comfortable rhythm.
  • Inhale for one step, then exhale over one or two steps.
  • Experiment to find a breathing and counting pace that suits your comfort and fitness level.
  1. Other techniques

Yoga and Tai Chi promote deep, controlled breathing, improving lung function and oxygen exchange. These practices also enhance balance, coordination, and stress reduction, contributing to better physical and mental well-being while being low-impact and safe exercises for those with COPD. Incorporating yoga and Tai Chi into a COPD management plan can help individuals breathe more effectively, reduce stress, and enhance overall quality of life.10


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung condition that can greatly impact an individual's quality of life. While medical treatments and lifestyle changes play a crucial role in managing COPD, natural remedies can complement traditional therapies and provide some relief.

Breathing exercises, like pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, can improve lung function and reduce shortness of breath. Herbal remedies, such as eucalyptus and ginger, may help alleviate symptoms and reduce inflammation. Maintaining a healthy diet with anti-inflammatory foods and staying well-hydrated can also be beneficial. Furthermore, regular physical activity can strengthen respiratory muscles and enhance overall lung capacity.

Individuals with COPD need to consult their healthcare provider before incorporating any natural remedies into their treatment plan, as some remedies may interact with prescribed medications or exacerbate symptoms. When used with medical guidance, natural remedies can be a valuable component of COPD management, contributing to a better quality of life for those affected by the condition.


  1. Is there anything natural for COPD?

The natural approaches for Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) include quitting smoking, regular exercise, and a balanced diet, which can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

  1. What is the best vitamin for COPD?

Vitamin D is often recommended for COPD patients, as it may help reduce inflammation and improve lung function. However, it's essential to consult a healthcare provider before taking any supplements.

  1. What are the best herbs for COPD?

Some herbs like ginseng, turmeric, oregano, and eucalyptus may offer relief from COPD symptoms due to their potential anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and bronchodilatory properties. Consult a healthcare professional before using herbs as they can interact with medications or trigger allergies.


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  3. Doo JH, Kim SM, Park YJ, Kim KH, Oh YH, Kim JS, et al. Smoking cessation after diagnosis of COPD is associated with lower all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a nationwide population-based cohort study of South Korean men. BMC Pulmonary Medicine [Internet]. 2023 Jul 3 [cited 2023 Oct 31];23(1):237. Available from:
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  8. Tenório MC dos S, Graciliano NG, Moura FA, Oliveira ACM de, Goulart MOF. N-acetylcysteine (Nac): impacts on human health. Antioxidants [Internet]. 2021 Jun [cited 2023 Nov 2];10(6):967. Available from:
  9. Fekete M, Csípő T, Fazekas-Pongor V, Fehér Á, Szarvas Z, Kaposvári C, et al. The effectiveness of supplementation with key vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and specific nutritional supplements in COPD—a review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2023 Jan [cited 2023 Nov 2];15(12):2741. Available from:
  10. Reychler G, Poncin W, Montigny S, Luts A, Caty G, Pieters T. Efficacy of yoga, tai chi and qi gong on the main symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A systematic review. Respiratory Medicine and Research [Internet]. 2019 May [cited 2023 Nov 2];75:13–25. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Hima Saxena

Masters in Pharmacy - M.Pharm, Uttarakhand Technical University, India

Hima Saxena is a dedicated professional with a Master's degree in Pharmacy, who possesses a profound passion for medical science and its effective communication. Her articles adeptly blend pharmaceutical knowledge with writing skills, ensuring readers gain a comprehensive understanding of crucial medical topics. Her experience in writing and editing further strengthens her commitment to providing informative, precise, and easily accessible information. Hima is eager to leverage her knowledge and communication skills to enhance health awareness and knowledge through her writing. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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