Q: My doctor diagnosed me with COPD and said I’d need to take steroids the rest of my life. I don’t know what this means and there must be a better treatment. Help!
A: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a group of lung problems that make normal breathing more difficult. The best known of these lung problems is asthma — on the rise at a rapid rate in particular among inner city children. The combination of rising pollution in cities and non-food quasi-edible items increasingly landing in the grocery store cart is noxious. Asthma is caused by
two major factors: constriction of the micro-units of the lungs, calledalveola, which pick up oxygen from the air and transfer oxygen to the blood stream, and inflammation. Both aspects need to be addressed by therapy. Other diseases under the COPD umbrella include chronic bronchitis, brochiectasis, emphysema and cystic fibrosis. Typically, a conventionally trained doctor or nurse will have only one solution: a steroidal inhaler. Long term steroids are best avoided: they destroy normal tissue over time, increase cancer risk and often cause diabetes. Save your steroidal inhalers for emergency use only.
Naturopathic therapies include the Buteyko breathing method, nebulized glutathione, air filtration devices and an anti-inflammatory diet.
Research “Buteyko breathing method” if you suffer from lung problems, and find a practitioner in your area. The basic idea is that you can temporarily increase the amount of oxygen delivered to the blood stream by, paradoxically, increasing slightly the carbon dioxide content of your inhalation. This idea has been around for many decades: that’s why kids with asthma used to get taught to
breathe slowly into a paper bag if they felt an asthma attack coming on. The Buteyko breathing method takes this concept to another level with pursed-lip breathing (as though through a straw) and using relatively shallow and very prolonged breaths. Children can be taught to do this. My ridiculously brief tutorial is not sufficient to replace your current asthma care! But please look into this if you want to reduce your steroidal inhaler use.
Nebulized glutathione can rapidly reduce symptoms of COPD and if used regularly, can reverse pulmonary damage. This may be the single most important treatment for cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease in which thick mucus can build up in the lungs and be very difficult to expel. Many compounding pharmacies now offer liquid glutathione, and it’s easy to find nebulizers at your local drug store. Glutathione is considered the most potent anti-oxidant our body produces. It’s a string of three amino acids (glutamine cysteine, and glycine) made by every single cell in our bodies. Oxygen itself is an oxidant, and glutathione is the major complex that provides the balance between oxygen levels necessary for life, but not so much that our blood vessels “oxidize” (kind of like rusting).
Glutathione is a superb detox agent and helps protect us against a myriad of irritants including pollution, poisons, drugs and heavy metals. It’s important to always use the “reduced” form of glutathione, also known as GSH. “Reduced” has to do with a biochemical process called “redox.” “Reduction” in this context means attaching an electron to a “radical” molecule, which is missing an electron and desperately trying to become stable by “grabbing” an electron. GSH neatly stabilizes this cascade of destruction and inflammation. Moreover, inhaling liquid GSH isn’t the only way to benefit from this fantastic natural healing molecule — although that’s probably the best delivery method for lung diseases. Because GSH is not very stable, some very innovative researchers have
been looking into ways of extending the useful shelf life of GSH for decades. Fairly recently there has been a breakthrough with liposomal technology.
Liposomal means surrounded by a fatty substance which will help protect against stomach acid and against exposure to air, light and temperature fluctuations. “Time-released” drugs and supplements were the first wave of this technology, basically coating the agent in a type of wax that doesn’t dissolve until it gets past the stomach, then slowly breaks down and gets absorbed in the small
intestine. Liposomal technology is more sophisticated and keeps the GSH (or whatever agent is captured by this method) protected by a fatty layer (typically made from soy lecithin) until it actually gets into the cell. That’s ultimately where you want all your nutrients to go. All the way in to the nuclei of all the trillions of cells in your body. The two brands of liposomal GSH I have
used are LivonLabs and ReadiSorb.
Air filtration devices are critically important for people with chronic respiratory problems. You can get a good HEPA (high emission particulate) filter in most of the big box stores now — and of course on line. Usually under $60. If you can only afford one, put it in the bedroom. And fer Pete’s sake don’t let your pets sleep in the bedroom with you! It would be nice to have one at work too if you have a desk job, especially in a building with non-opening windows.
Anti-inflammatory diet is basics include using liberal amounts of the spice Turmeric in capsules or in your cooking — 1/2 tsp daily, as well the whole gamut of naturally colorful fruits and vegetables. Eat little to no mammal food: cheese, milk, ice cream, beef, pork — all promote inflammation via prostaglandins in the saturated fat. If your blood type is O you will need to eat meat twice a
week or so — try to find wild game, or grass fed “happy” cow lean steaks. Fatty fish, especially wild Alaskan salmon, is a super health food. Right up there with dark leafy greens, blueberries and organic apples.
A few more Naturoapthic tidbits for COPD:
*homeopathic Silica 12X 1 pellet twice daily for a long time.
*concentrated berry flavonoids in a thick liquid form (most good health food stores will carry this) 1 tablespoon 1-2 times daily in water or tea or on hot cereals.
* Quercitin, another super duper bioflavonoid found in apple skins and the inner skin of onions.
* Liquid chlorophyll, known as plant blood, with it’s rich green, high magnesium content. Magnesium is my favorite natural muscle relaxant and works well to “relax” the constricted bronchioles deep in the lung tissue. Swig 1-2 tablespoons before sporting events or other activity requiring more lung power.
*Co-Q10 is the “rate limiting” enzyme in something called the electron transport chain which happens across the walls of the tiny energy producing units within each cell: the mitochondria. This process creates more net available oxygen in the cells, thus reducing demand on the lungs (and the heart) for delivering oxygen to the tissues. Take as much as you can afford: it’s pricey. At least
100 mg daily to make a difference with COPD.
* Herbal remedies include Gallium aparine (Cleavers) caps or tincture, and Aspidosperma (Quebracho) caps tincture. Tinctures have a much longer shelf life (years) than capsules.
* NAC (N-acetyl cysteine, as a precursor to glutathione) 600 mg at bedtime until breathing is easier.
* Selenium, 400 mcg daily. This micronutrient is a critical agent in about 75% of all human detoxification pathways.
* Adrenal support: the adrenals produce cortisol, your natural anti-inflammatory, which works way better (and safer) than the synthetic knock-offs such as Prednisone.