The official blog of the Lung Institute.
When you’re living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you understand how challenging it can be to do your favorite activities, get enough nutrition and feel like yourself. Sometimes trying something different helps people improve. To help you get back to your favorite activities and to help you breathe easier, here are some of the best natural treatments for COPD.
For people with COPD, making sure you receive enough vitamins is vitally important. While it’s best to receive your nutrients from food, sometimes vitamin supplements may be needed. Here are some vitamins that people with COPD need to know about:
- Vitamin D—is fat-soluble and stored in your liver and fatty tissues. Naturally present in many foods, like salmon, mackerel, beef liver, egg yolks, yogurt, milk and cheese, it’s also available as a vitamin supplement. For people with COPD, vitamin D deficiency can be common. Your doctor can help you determine if you need more vitamin D, how much to take and for how long.
- Vitamin C—is a water-soluble vitamin. You can increase your intake of vitamin C by eating oranges and other citrus fruits, dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, berries and tomatoes.
- Vitamin A—is another fat-soluble vitamin and is important for normal vision and a healthy immune system. Vitamin A can be found in salmon and other fatty fish, dairy products, fruits like mangoes and cantaloupe, carrots, squash, broccoli and green leafy vegetables.
- Vitamin E—is also fat-soluble and is naturally present in vegetable oils, cereals, meat, poultry, eggs, fruit and vegetables. Vitamin E can boost the immune system, is good for the blood vessels and helps protect against cell damage.
If you take certain medications or have certain conditions, your doctor may want you to avoid certain foods even though they contain good vitamins. While all of the above vitamins are available as supplements in local stores, it’s important to discuss taking supplements with your doctor before trying them.
Many vitamins, herbs and foods contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are naturally occurring or synthetic substances that help protect cells from free radicals, which are highly reactive compounds. Free radicals can damage cells, and antioxidants can prevent damage from them.
To put it simply, oxidants are capable of causing an interaction between oxygen molecules and other substances, which is known as oxidation. A peeled apple that turns brown is an example of oxidation.
Oxidation also happens in living tissues, including in the lungs. Oxidants from inside the body include free radicals released from your cells, and oxidants from outside your body include cigarette smoke and air pollution.
When the balance between oxidants and antioxidants shifts towards too many oxidants, oxidative stress occurs. In fact, oxidative stress has been linked to inflammation of the lungs’ airways. However, increasing your antioxidants may help reduce oxidative stress and promote better lung function.
Try antioxidant-rich food sources to help maintain a healthy diet and boost your nutrition naturally. Some great foods with antioxidants include:
- Kidney beans, red beans, pinto beans, black beans
- Red Delicious apples, Granny Smith apples, Gala apples
- Blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries
- Cooked Russet Potatoes
- Plums and black plums
- Artichoke hearts
- Olive Oil
- Green tea
Be sure to talk with your doctor about including these types of foods and antioxidants in your diet.
- Eucalyptus—helps break up congestion and expel phlegm.
- Ginger—has many benefits, such as breaking down mucus, improving circulation to the lungs and reducing inflammation. Try boiling chopped, fresh ginger in water, straining out the ginger and drinking it with honey as a tea.
- Oregano—contains carvacrol and rosmarinic acid, which are natural decongestants and antihistamines. Try adding some fresh oregano to your meals for great flavor and health benefits.
- Peppermint—is an herb that contains menthol, which can promote the relaxation of the muscles in the respiratory tract.
- Ginseng—has been shown to give some people relief from COPD symptoms, including improvements in breathing and exercise tolerance.
- Turmeric—contains curcumin, which has the ability to improve a wide range of conditions and may have antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
- Melatonin—is typically known as a sleeping aid, but a study showed that melatonin helps reduce oxidative stress in people with COPD.
- Red Sage—has been found in certain studies to be an effective antioxidant and to help protect the lining of blood vessels from injury when oxygen is temporarily cut off and then resumed. For people who have low blood oxygen levels, red sage could offer some protection.
Remember to talk with your doctor about these herbal supplements and natural treatments for COPD before changing your COPD treatment plan.
Diet and Exercise
Many people with COPD experience difficulties with poor nutrition. In fact, while being overweight adds extra pressure to your lungs and body, many people with COPD are underweight. It takes more energy for people with COPD to breathe than people with normal lungs. Eating a healthy diet that is rich in a variety of foods can help you maintain a healthy weight.
While exercise is challenging for people with COPD, studies have shown that getting enough exercise helps people improve their exercise tolerance. It’s understandable to be concerned about exercising, especially when difficulty breathing occurs. However, not exercising can cause your muscles to lose their strength and make your overall health decline. Talk with your doctor about what kinds of exercise are right for you. Ask about gentle exercises like yoga, Tai Chi and walking.
Best Natural Treatments for COPD and You
While COPD is a chronic, progressive disease, meaning it will worsen over time, there are a variety of treatment options available. Traditional medications, such as inhalers, oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation, are typically on the front lines of treatments. Natural treatments for COPD offer people an alternative to traditional medications and can be used along with medications.
While traditional medication works to manage COPD symptoms, stem cell therapy works to promote healing from within the lungs. With the potential to address disease progression and improve quality of life, many patients report feeling better, breathing easier and living a more active lifestyle after treatment. If you or a loved one has COPD or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about stem cell treatment options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.