Asthma Management Handbook

Complementary therapies and asthma


In this handbook, ‘complementary and alternative therapies’ refers to the range of medical and healthcare practices and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine provided by doctors and allied health professionals in Australia.1 They include ‘natural’ products, ‘mind-and-body’ therapies, dietary supplements or restrictions, and physical therapies.

Healthcare professionals need to be aware of complementary and alternative therapies so they can:

  • discuss the risks and benefits with patients who are interested in using them
  • advise on safety issues
  • advise on the evidence for their efficacy
  • warn against inappropriate diagnostic practices.

Table. Summary of efficacy evidence for complementary therapies in the treatment of asthma Opens in a new window Please view and print this figure separately:

The use of these therapies in place of, or to the exclusion of, conventional therapies is not an appropriate approach to asthma management. The use of unproven complementary and alternative therapies can pose a risk to patients’ health directly (e.g. through adverse effects) or indirectly (e.g. when patients defer seeking medical advice or when patients use a complementary therapy instead of an effective asthma medicine).

In this section


  1. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine USA. What is complementary and alternative medicine? NCCAM Pub No. D347. Updated May 2013. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2008. Available from: