Various Alternative Treatments for Emphysema: Chinese Herbal Remedies, Aromatherapy and Yoga

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What is Emphysema?

Emphysema is a chronic lung disease that causes difficulty in breathing. A person suffers from emphysema when the bronchioles and alveoli—small concave structures which absorbs oxygen into the bloodstream—loses elasticity. Slowly, it reduces the breathing capacity and oxygen intake, making the condition worse and eventually fatal, if untreated. There might be various conventional treatment options for this disease, but several alternative treatments for emphysema have proved very beneficial for restoring lung health.

Causes and Symptoms

Various causes of emphysema are:

  • Smoking (which is generally seen as the main cause of emphysema).

  • Inhaling irritants such as chemical fumes, dust, and air pollution for a long term.

  • A person suffering from chronic bronchitis is also prone to emphysema.

  • The condition might be hereditary too, but hereditary-related emphysema cases are very few. A person with a lower count of alpha 1 antitrypsin glycoprotein may suffer from this disease.

Common symptoms of emphysema include:

  • Breathlessness due to exertion.

  • Chest makes a whistling sound while breathing (often called wheezing).

  • Cough that produces mucus in large amounts.

  • Feeling stiffness in the chest.

The symptoms of emphysema might be too common to diagnose the real cause, so it is recommended to consult your doctor or a medical expert to confirm.

Various Alternative Treatments

It is difficult to cure emphysema with medications, but since the symptoms are similar to bronchitis and asthma, supplemental oxygen and bronchodilator medication might help to alleviate the symptoms. However, many patients are turning to different alternative treatments to alleviate breathing problems associated with emphysema. Here are some of the best alternative treatments that might help ease emphysema symptoms:

Go for a Chinese Herbal Therapy:

Various Chinese herbs can be very helpful in treating emphysema symptoms, including breathing problems. A combination of Chinese herbs can create a very good formula to alleviate bronchitis-like symptoms. Xin Su San (a combination of Perilla leaf powder and apricot kernel) and Zhi Gan Cao Tang (licorice fried with honey) are well-known Chinese herbal formulas used to treat emphysema.

Practice Different Yoga Poses:

There are various types of yoga poses that help in relaxing the chest and expanding lungs. Different animal yoga poses like the Camel and Fish pose can be very helpful in relieving breathlessness and other symptoms.

Eat Healthy Foods:

Foods rich in antioxidants, selenium and magnesium can be important for healthy lung function. Here are some examples:

  • Antioxidant-rich foods: broccoli, blueberries, red grapes, garlic, spinach and carrots.

  • Foods rich in selenium: Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, barley and shrimp.

  • Magnesium-rich foods: mustard greens, turnip greens, pumpkin seeds, celery, green beans and kale.

Avoid a diet high in non-complex carbohydrates and red meat. Studies have suggested that a western diet may increase the risk of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) such as emphysema.

Breathing Exercises:

Certain breathing exercises can really help solve breathing problems. Inhale slowly and hold your breath for at least 6-10 seconds. When exhaling, cough to let the phlegm out. This will ensure there’s no mucus and will ease the breathing process to some extent. Certain yoga breathing exercises like pranayama can help mild to severe COPD diseases like emphysema, if practiced regularly.

Aromatherapy May Help to Ease Breathlessness:

Aromatherapy is also one of the key alternative treatments for emphysema. Essential oils such as peppermint, cedar wood and eucalyptus can make breathing easier. Just rub a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil on your chest or add a few drops on a handkerchief and inhale slowly and deeply. You will feel much relaxed and will be able to breathe comfortably.


“Treatment with Chinese Herbs for Emphysema Symptoms” TCMassistant

“Medications to Treat Emphysema” ehealthmad

“Emphysema Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Causes” Wrong Diagnosis

“Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Emphysema” AmericanChronicle and Alternative Treatments for Emphysema

“Emphysema Lifestyle Changes—Emphysema Health Information” The New York Times

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