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Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies are any practices or products which are not part of ‘standard’ medical care (treatments offered by mainstream medicine). A complementary therapy can include treatments, medicine and different ideas and philosophies about why and how disease occurs and should be treated. 

Some therapies have been well researched, while others require more investigation before we know if they are effective in helping with your asthma or not.

If you want to try a complementary therapy, it’s best to talk with your doctor about it, as some of them can actually be harmful or dangerous. Your doctor should be open to discussing your interest and options in this area.

There are no regulations for many complementary therapists, so take care when selecting one for you and make sure you do your research and ask lots of questions before committing to any treatment. Most importantly, don’t change or stop your asthma medicines without talking with your doctor.

Here is the evidence on some commonly considered therapies:

Effective (or possibly effective) 

Not clear *


– this has been shown to help with lung capacity, and in exercise induced asthma, but in quite high doses (at least three cups a day), so it should be considered with caution and medical supervision.

Alexander technique,
massage music therapy,
relaxation therapy


– while the research shows some good effects from this, there’s not a lot of safety data on it yet, and it can be toxic in high doses

Breathing exercises,
Buteyko breathing method,

Removal of specific things

from your diet (this can also have a harmful effect on your nutrition)

Herbal medicines,
vitamin B6,
vitamin D 


* Not clear - Some research done, but studies have been done poorly, or there is not enough or conflicting evidence.

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