Complementary Therapies for COPD | American Lung Association

Complementary Therapies for COPD

What Are Complementary Therapies?

Complementary therapies refers to the many therapies, philosophies and practices that are not considered conventional or standard in the United States. Some examples include massage therapy, acupuncture and meditation. Complementary therapy is used with standard treatment. Combining these two types of treatment is called integrated medicine. Integrated medicine can be used to control pain, reduce anxiety, lessen side effects and improve your quality of life. It is important to discuss participating in integrated medicine activities with your doctor. You need to know that the therapies will not interfere with your standard treatment, cause side effects or be dangerous for persons with COPD.

You should never stop your standard treatment without consulting with your doctor.

Use Caution

Some complementary techniques can help treat symptoms and make you feel better. Unfortunately, some treatments make claims that are not backed by science. Some even can be harmful instead of helpful. As you consider your options, here are some important steps you can take:

  • Look for "red flags." Do NOT receive any treatment that:
    • Promises to cure COPD
    • Tells you not to have regular medical treatments
    • Is a "secret" that requires you to visit certain providers or travel to another country
    • Is not approved by your doctor
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse about any method you are thinking about using.
  • Ask practitioners to work with your doctor. Avoid any who refuse.
  • Talk to your doctor before participating in any complementary therapies.

For more information, visit the National Cancer Institute's Guide to Complementary and Alternative Medicine.


    Approved by Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 1, 2016.

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