A Breath of Fresh Air for Lung Diseases
By: Dr. Michael Morsillo, B.Sc., N.D.
Breathing is an essential function that many of us take for granted, mostly because this is something that we have done ever since we were born and we do not need to be consciously aware of this to perform it. For people with lung issues, however, this simple act of breathing can become an extremely challenging task, where every breath can become a constant battle. If you can imagine how difficult it would be to breathe only through a straw then you will have a good idea of what it is like to suffer from lung disease.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of lung diseases that make it challenging for air to move freely into and out of the lungs. The most common of these conditions are chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which can involve increased mucous production, repeated chest infections, chronic coughing, overwhelming fatigue, and shortness of breath. Considering COPD is the 4th leading cause of death in Canada, we sure don’t seem to hear much about it.
Pulmonary Fibrosis involves excessive production of fibrous tissue within the lungs, and can also be described as “scarring of the lungs”. Asthma is a very common lung condition that can become extremely debilitating. Asthma can result in shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, fatigue, and it can occur at any age.
These chronic lung conditions have many potential causes, including poor environmental or occupational air quality, repeated chest infections, radiation therapy of the chest, medications, existing autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammation, and cigarette smoking.
Unfortunately, treatment options for lung disease are limited and there is no evidence that medications will significantly help these conditions. Typically, medications that suppress the immune system are given to slow down progression. Supplemental oxygen may be used to improve quality of life, and lung transplantation is required in severe cases. Naturopathic Medicine offers a wide range of natural therapies that can produce lasting improvements for COPD, asthma, fibrosis, pneumonia, bronchitis.
Antioxidants are very important for treating chronic lung diseases because “oxidative stress” is one of the primary factors that cause damage to lung tissue, resulting in chronic lung disease. These antioxidants will defend against this damage and protect lung tissue, ensuring optimal function. There are many different types of antioxidants, most of which can be found in colourful fruits and vegetables.
Breathing exercises are very important for those with chronic lung disease to perform on a daily basis. This practice will train their respiratory muscles to become stronger and work more efficiently and they will learn to take in a greater volume of air and to avoid shallow breathing. Alternate nostril breathing and deep abdominal breathing are a couple of easy exercises that can produce dramatic results.
Glutathione is the one of the most powerful antioxidants that exists and patients with lung disease typically have very low levels of this particular antioxidant. This antioxidant can not only protect lung tissue, in some cases it can reverse damage. An our Newmarket Naturopathic clinic, we use a special machine that allows our Lung Formula (including glutathione) to be inhaled as a vapor. This is very important because this is the only way to deliver antioxidants directly to the lung tissues for maximum effectiveness. This is by far one of the best Naturopathic treatments for chronic lung diseases and our patients have noticed dramatic results for COPD, asthma, fibrosis, sinusitis, and bronchitis…even after one session!
Acupuncture is quite effective for COPD and asthma, and has also produced positive results for helping people quit smoking. Acupuncture is a safe and effective natural therapy that can reduce pain and stress, and improve energy and breathing. A very recent study of 68 patients with COPD published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that acupuncture treatments led to improved exercise tolerance and reduced difficulty breathing with exertion. [Arch Intern Med. 2012 Jun 11; 172(11):878-86]
Fish oil is another effective natural therapy for lung disease that is often overlooked. Chronic inflammation is involved in asthma, COPD, and pulmonary fibrosis and we must “put out the fire” to ease symptoms. In a 2005 study on 64 COPD patients, Omega-3 supplements were actually found to decrease inflammatory markers, decrease shortness of breath, and improve oxygen saturation. [Chest. 2005 Dec; 128(6):3817-27]
Michael Morsillo is a naturopathic doctor who is passionate about helping others achieve their optimal level of health. Michael maintains a clinical practice in Newmarket, where he focuses mainly on cancer care, hormonal conditions, anxiety & depression, digestive concerns, detoxification, and weight loss.
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