Nov 2, 2012


       Now known officially as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, emphysema often accompanies chronic bronchitis. It is caused by a lack of elasticity in the lungs, usually due to constant coughing. When the lungs cannot expand and contract with ease, it is difficult breathe. Emphysema often brings a distinctive deep wheezing that interrupts conversation and physical movement. It is so debilitating that it ranks third among the diseases for which Social Security gives disability benefits. Patients often have a history of heavy smoking or live in areas of high air pollution.

      The herbal treatments for emphysema are similar to those for asthma, with an added emphasis on nutritional support for the immune system. See the suggestions for asthma therapy. Some physicians prescribe a low-carbohydrate diet because sweets, simple carbohydrates and sugar tend to worsen emphysema symptoms.

       In 1992 British researchers published a double-blind, randomized crossover study to test the effects of fats and carbohydrates on emphysema. They found that small dietary changes in the balance of carbohydrates to fats affected exercise tolerance and breathlessness significantly.

      The more carbohydrates the patients consumed, the worse their symptoms. Vitamins C and E, magnesium and bioflavonids are important supplements for those with emphysema and so are omega-3 fish oils. In 1994, the New England Journal of Medicine reported on a study of nearly 9,000 smokers and former smokers that showed the more fish they ate, the less chance they had of developing emphysema. Smoking is a major cause of emphysema.

     The relaxing expectorant herbs lobelia and coltsfoot can be helpful in treating emphysema, as can bloodroot and elecampane. For example, a tea made of equal parts coltsfoot, lobelia and the soothing demulcent herbs mullein and Irish moss may help reduce coughing and shortness of breath. Add an equal amount of licorice root if high blood pressure and fluid retention are not a problem. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons tea per cup of boiling water; brew 4 cups at a time in a quart jar for convenience, reheat as desired and sip throughout the day.

No comments: