Natural Treatments That May Increase Overall Wellness
While some natural treatments may not directly treat COPD symptoms, they may benefit overall health and wellness. This is important since COPD patients should stay as strong and healthy as possible. Of course, always consult your physician first.
Here is a brief rundown of some of the natural treatments for COPD. There is no cure for COPD at this time, but treatments (both natural and medicinal) may help to make breathing easier, reduce flare-ups, and improve quality of life:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids—Omega-3 may decrease inflammation in the airways, thus helping to improve breathing. While supplements are available, omega-3 is also found in cold-water fatty fish (tuna, trout, salmon, and sardines), flaxseed, and walnuts. Because omega-3 supplementation may lead to bleeding problems, it is important to discuss usage with your doctor…especially if you are taking blood-thinning medication.
- Vitamins A, C and E—All three vitamins have antioxidant properties and having low levels may impact and worsen lung function. A European study of 120 COPD patients found that when they had diets naturally rich in vitamins A, C and E, they seemed to exhibit improved lung function.4 Natural sources of vitamin A include sweet potato, carrots and kale. Natural sources of vitamin C include papaya, broccoli and citrus. Natural sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, whole grains, spinach, kiwi and mango.
- Vitamin D—The sunshine vitamin helps bring calcium to bones and teeth and may help protect against osteoporosis, which can pose an additional danger for COPD patients by making breathing more difficult as the spine compresses. Natural sources include egg yolks, salmon and mackerel, and the body can produce vitamin D with brief exposure to sunshine.
- Xiao Chuan (XCP)—This traditional Chinese herbal treatment is being studied as a possible means to help with breathing difficulties in both asthma and COPD patients. It may also reduce the frequency of flare-ups in COPD patients, according to a study at Gunag’anmen Hospital in Beijing. Xiao Chuan paste is prepared and applied to specific acupuncture points on the back.
- Eucalyptus Oil—This is a natural expectorant and may help to break up phlegm and mucus. Adding a few drops to a humidifier may make breathing easier.
- Echinacea—Any sort of respiratory infection–even if it’s from a common cold–can compromise health and breathing for the COPD patient. But it’s possible that Echinacea can help. It may boost the immune system and relieve symptoms of a cold, swollen lymph glands and sore throat. Side effects, however, may include rash, gastrointestinal irritation, and allergic reaction.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)—This antioxidant is being studied for its possible ability to increase cell activity and reduce inflammation. From a small study of 45 COPD patients and 45 smokers, conducted at Dicle University in Turkey, it’s thought that COPD patients may have low levels of CoQ10 due to fighting off flare-ups.6
These are just a few of the COPD natural treatments being tested and studied. Some of the most basic natural treatments, however, are lifestyle changes, starting with quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and exercising. Smoking is the primary cause of COPD, so quitting will help slow additional damage to lungs and remove a serious irritant from the respiratory system. A good diet and exercise will help improve overall health and strength.
Be Aware of Risks Associated with COPD Natural Treatments
COPD natural treatments may sound desirable and possibly safer than medications. The fact is, however, many of these remedies and treatments are quite potent. In some cases, they may conflict with or interrupt the benefits of prescribed medical treatment. Even though they are natural, there may be side effects, including bleeding, rash, gastrointestinal irritation and allergic reactions. For these reasons, always talk with your physician or healthcare professional before beginning any diet, herb or supplement that may impact your health.