Antigen avoidance: Individuals should avoid exposure to known allergens because the condition is reversible, if diagnosed early. Most patients recover completely after avoiding exposure to allergens.
Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids (like prednisone) may help decrease inflammation in the lungs in the short-term. Corticosteroid therapy has helped relieve symptoms dramatically after one or two months, according to research. However, the same studies also found that corticosteroids did not offer any added benefit in the long-term when compared to antigen avoidance or placebo. While corticosteroids may help relieve symptoms, they cannot cure the disease.
It may take up to three weeks to fully recover from an acute attack. Lung damage, such as pulmonary fibrosis, is permanent and may occur even after symptoms have subsided.
Most patients who have farmer's lung recover with only minor functional abnormalities in the lungs. Many farmers develop mild chronic lung impairment.
Bird fancier's lung, although not as well studied, appears to have a worse prognosis than farmer's lung. According to some research, 30% of bird fancier's lung cases are fatal within five years. The poorer prognosis may be the result of exposure to higher concentrations of the antigen, as well as more frequent exposure in the home environment, according to researchers.
Note: Currently, there is insufficient evidence available on the safety and effectiveness of integrative therapies for the treatment of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. The integrative therapies listed below should be used only under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider, and should not be used in replacement of other proven therapies or preventive measures.
Good scientific evidence
Bromelain: Classified as an herb, bromelain is a digestive enzyme that comes from the stem and the fruit of the pineapple plant. Several preliminary studies suggest that when taken by mouth, bromelain can reduce inflammation or pain caused by inflammation. Better quality studies are needed to confirm these results.
Avoid if allergic to bromelain, pineapple, honeybee, venom, latex, birch pollen, carrots, celery, fennel, cypress pollen, grass pollen, papain, rye flour, wheat flour, or other members of the Bromeliaceaefamily. Use cautiously with history of bleeding disorder, stomach ulcers, heart disease, liver disease, or kidney disease. Use cautiously before dental or surgical procedures or while driving or operating machinery. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Unclear or conflicting scientific evidence
Cat's claw: Cat's claw is widely used in the United States and Europe, and it is one of the top herbal remedies sold despite a lack of high-quality human evidence. Cat's claw may reduce inflammation. Large, high-quality human studies are needed comparing effects of cat's claw alone vs. placebo before a conclusion can be drawn.
It has been suggested that cat's claw may help treat allergic respiratory diseases. However, there is limited scientific evidence. More well-designed trials are needed to determine whether cat's claw is a beneficial treatment.
Avoid if allergic to Cat's claw or Uncaria plants or plants in the Rubiaceae family, such as gardenia, coffee, or quinine. Avoid with a history of conditions affecting the immune system. Use cautiously with bleeding disorders or with a history of stroke. Use cautiously if taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Stop use two weeks before and immediately after surgery/dental/diagnostic procedures with bleeding risks.Cat's claw may be contaminated with other Uncaria species. Reports exist of a potentially toxic, Texan-grown plant, Acacia gregii being substituted for cat's claw. Avoid if pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to become pregnant.
Probiotics: Only a few types and combinations of probiotics have been studied as a possible treatment for allergies. They have been studied mostly in children, teenagers and young adults. Inhalant allergy conditions such as allergic rhinitis (nasal inflammation and discharge) during pollen season have had mixed results. There is limited evidence that probiotic supplementation may help reduce inflammation associated with some allergy responses. Further research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be made.
Turmeric: Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a perennial plant native to India and Indonesia, and it is often used as a spice in cooking. The root of turmeric has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat gastrointestinal upset, arthritis pain, and fatigue. Laboratory and animal studies show anti-inflammatory activity of turmeric and its constituent curcumin. Reliable human research is lacking.
Avoid if allergic to turmeric (curcumin), yellow food colorings, or plants belonging to the Curcuma and Zingiberaceae (ginger) families. Use cautiously with a history of bleeding disorders, immune system deficiencies, liver disease, or gallstones. Use cautiously if taking blood-thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin®). Historically, turmeric has been considered safe when used as a spice in foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, turmeric has been found to cause uterine stimulation and to stimulate menstrual flow, and caution is therefore warranted during pregnancy.
Yerba santa: Chumash Native Americans and other California tribes have used yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum) and other related species (Eriodictyon crassifolium, Eriodictyon trichocalyx) for many centuries in the treatment of lung conditions. There is an extensive clinical history of the use of Eriodictyon extracts in pulmonary conditions such as influenza, bacterial pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, and tuberculosis. However, additional study is needed.
Avoid exposure to known allergens.
Properly dry and store farm products to decrease the risk of developing hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
Individuals who may be exposed to allergens should work in ventilated areas and use respiratory protection (masks).