A Pilot Study on the Effect of Alternate Nostril Breathing and Foot Reflexology on Intraocular Pressure in Ocular Hypertension

J Altern Complement Med. 2019 Aug;25(8):824-826. doi: 10.1089/acm.2019.0033. Epub 2019 Jun 10.


The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of alternate nostril breathing (ANB) and foot reflexology (FR) on lower intraocular pressure (IOP) in patients with ocular hypertension (OHTN). This prospective pilot study recruited 11 patients from 2014 to 2016 from Temple opthamology outpatient clinic. Patients had OHTN with ages of 48-78 years. Patients were excluded if they currently performed ANB or FR, were unable to perform the task, had previous eye surgery or laser, were receiving other complementary and alternative medicine for OHTN, or were unable to complete drug washout period. After a 30-day drug washout, patients were randomly assigned to complete either ANB or FR for 5 min. After instruction, patients completed either ANB or FR, and completed the alternate task 2 weeks later. IOP was measured before the task, immediately after the task, and then every 30 min for 2 h. Decrease in IOP compared with baseline IOP was significant for ANB and FR at all time points. Baseline IOP was 25.86 ± 3.19 mmHg for ANB and 25.41 ± 3.54 mmHg for FR (N = 22 eyes). There was only one significant difference between IOP for the right and left eyes for FR at 120 min. Otherwise, there was no difference between eyes for both ANB and FR. There was a significant decrease in IOP at 30 min post task with IOP decrease of 1.98 ± 1.70 mmHg for ANB and 3.59 ± 1.89 mmHg for FR (both p < 0.0001) and at 60 min post task with IOP decrease of 2.39 ± 2.05 mmHg for ANB and 3.86 ± 1.89 mmHg for FR (both p < 0.0001). The decrease in IOP at 90 and 120 min post task was less but remained significant (p < 0.0001). Both FR and ANB had a small but significant IOP lowering effect. These alternative therapies could serve as possible adjunctive treatments for lowering IOP.

Keywords: alternate nostril breathing; foot reflexology; ocular hypertension.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breathing Exercises / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations / methods*
  • Ocular Hypertension / therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies