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Complementary Therapies To Help Manage CF Symptoms

Last updated: August 2021

I have been a huge fan of alternative medicine and complementary therapies to help manage my cystic fibrosis journey. Here I share some of my top-rated add on's.

Complementary & alternative therapies for cystic fibrosis

Magnesium supplements

Antibiotics especially aminoglycosides and protein pump inhibitors (acid reflux meds) are notorious for depleting magnesium levels which can lead to low mood, fatigue, sleeping issues, and more.1 I have been topping up with oral magnesium supplements or transdermal sprays for years and really notice the difference around IV treatment.

Massage therapy

Anyone can benefit from the restorative powers of massage. Living with CF, I decided to make it a necessity a few years back. I suffer loads with back, shoulder, chest, neck, and head pain from coughing so I have regular deep tissue massages. This really helps to break down those over tight muscle fibers easing the pain. Top tip: if laying down on your front is difficult, opt for a seated massage – Indian Head is perfect for this.

Reflexology is also an excellent health-giving treatment that works on pressure points around the feet. A great choice if you are you want to stay fully clothed but still reap the benefits of remedial massage.

Herbal medicines

I studied herbal medicine because I was fascinated by how powerful plants are at healing our bodies. After all most thing we take on prescription derived from plant. A few of my favorites for CF chest symptoms are:

  • Oregano or thyme oil, which have been exceptional decongestants for me.
  • Elderberry syrup, which is naturally high in vitamin C and aids in reducing inflammation.2,3
  • Garlic capsules throughout the winter months to ward of viruses.4
  • Echinacea tinctures when I feel like I am getting run down.

Earthing sheets

Earthing or grounding sheets are designed to connect our bodies back to the earth’s natural electrical current. This is the same as if we were walking barefoot outside. There is a wealth of medical research that has gone into how connecting back to the earth's surface can aid wound healing, reduce inflammation, boost immune response, and help alleviate symptoms of many chronic conditions.5

In 2019, a research study concluded that "all earthing, or grounding, point to a simple, natural, and accessible health strategy against chronic inflammation, warranting the serious attention of clinicians and researchers."5


Most people think meditation is just there to help set up for a yoga practice or quieten your mind. In fact, meditation offers so much more. Some clinicians recommend or, run meditation groups to help manage chronic pain as well as to encourage acceptance of ourselves and our conditions.6 In my opinion, meditation is just as important to me as my prescription drugs. Just like massage, anybody can benefit from a little mindfulness.


Deep breathing, controlled stretching, strength building, posture correcting, backbends, and meditation… I feel it is the “add-on Guru” to complementary therapies. Yoga really does have so much to offer, and the best thing is there are so many styles that you are bound to find one you like. It took me a few months to settle in with a teacher and style that felt right for my body - but once I did, I never looked back.

Since practicing yoga, I have seen improvements in my spirometry, better posture, less back pain, and a calmer mind.


My Mum took me to a reiki healer way, way back when I was a spring chicken. I kid you not, it felt as though something was moving all the mucus in my lungs and forcing it out of my airways. It was not too dissimilar to what a Trikafta/Kaftrio purge feels like nowadays.

This powerful Japanese energy healing is performed when fully clothed. Many people have spoken out claiming it is placebo, but clinical research has uncovered that Reiki is better than placebo in activating the parasympathetic nervous system-mediated via the vagus nerve.7

For chronic health conditions, Reiki has been found to be more effective than placebo for improving symptoms of anxiety and depression, reducing pain, and improving self-esteem and quality of life nervous system activity, mediated via the vagus nerve.7

Before trying any alternative supplements or complementary therapies, please consult your cystic fibrosis healthcare professional and a herbalist when using herbal supplements.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Cystic-Fibrosis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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