KEY POINTS

  • >12 million Americans diagnosed with COPD
  • Another 12 million suffer COPD but aren't aware of it
  • COPD is the third leading cause of death in U.S.
  • There is no cure for COPD but certain herbs and supplements can help alleviate symptoms
     

With more than 15.3 million Americans diagnosed, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the leading cause of long-term disability and premature death. Since there isn’t any cure for this deadly disease, the number of people dying from this disease is on the rise. But several herbs and supplements have been used for several centuries to help alleviate the symptoms.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease aka COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that obstructs the airflow from the lungs and as a result, one might experience symptoms including cough, difficulty in breathing, wheezing and sputum production.

Herbs that help alleviate COPD symptoms: Thyme, Ginseng, and Turmeric

Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris) which is popular for its aromatic oils is enriched with antioxidant compounds. A 2007 study has reported that thyme is a broncholytic and secretomotoric agent that improved mucus clearance from the airways. Thyme has been shown to help airways relax and improve airflow into the lungs.

Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) has been reported to provide relief from COPD symptoms. A 2002 study has reported that individuals who consumed this herb experienced significant improvements in breathing as well their ability to exercise without any side effects. This root has been used for more than 2000 years. Several other studies have reported an association between ginseng consumption and improvements in lung function and overall quality of life among COPD patients.

Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which helps reduce airway inflammations. Curcumin is a very powerful antioxidant that helps combat oxidative stress underlying COPD by blocking inflammation at a molecular level. A 2009 study has reported that curcumin inhibits COPD-like airway inflammation and the progression of lung cancer. The findings of the study demonstrated that curcumin can be used to inhibit the progression of lung cancer in high-risk COPD patients. Several other pieces of research have pointed to curcumin’s antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. This herb’s potential ability to fight or prevent cancer is intriguing.

Other herbs that help alleviate COPD symptoms include English ivy and red sage. These herbs and supplements offer a natural alternative to drugs alongside fewer side effects. But the effectiveness of these herbs against COPD still needs to be researched.