By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Medicine
Take a deep breath.
For most people, it’s not a big deal. But if you suffer from chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), breathing may be one of the most difficult things you do.
COPD is a group of conditions that includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma. Smoking is the most common cause of COPD. But pollution and chemical fumes can also set you up for respiratory problems later in life.
COPD causes permanent damage to the lungs. It also limits the amount of air you can breathe in. If you try to take a deep breath or exert yourself too much, you might experience shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness and mucus coughed up from the lungs.
Luckily, I’ve found 3 very effective ways you can strengthen your lungs, even if you have chronic respiratory problems or COPD. Use them individually or combine them for even more lung power.
N-acetylcysteine. NAC has been used for years to safely treat emphysema, bronchitis, asthma and cystic fibrosis. Because it thins mucus, NAC reduces coughing and improves oxygen saturation in the blood.1 It also supplies antioxidant protection to lung tissue by boosting glutathione levels. For ongoing lung support, I recommend taking 200 mg of NAC three times a day.
Ivy Extract. This trailing vine isn’t just a decorative accent to your back yard. Recent clinical research shows that ivy leaf extract reduces both mucous and bronchial spasms. Several double-blind studies show that ivy extract improves lung function and reduces asthma attacks. One of these studies found that ivy leaf was just as effective as prescription drugs for treating the symptoms of chronic bronchitis. Take 100 mg once or twice daily.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. The omega-3s in fish and fish oil can reduce inflammation in the lungs and airways. They can also improve the ability to exercise in people with COPD according to Japanese researchers. Among the 64 patients they followed, those who took an omega-3 supplement were able to walk farther without becoming breathless. Add fish to the menu and start taking 3,000 mg of a high quality fish oil supplement every day to support healthy lung function.
Not being able to breath isn’t just inconvenient, it can be downright scary. And, while these 3 supplements can help support lung function, it’s important to see your doctor if you experience chronic breathing problems, a persistent cough, difficulty sleeping or you simply can’t keep up with your friends the way you used to.
Catching respiratory problems early can help you control your symptoms before they become debilitating.
Stey C. The effect of oral N-acetylcysteine in chronic bronchitis: a quantitative systematic review. European Respiratory Journal. 2000;16:253–62.
Dauletbaev N. A phase II study on safety and efficacy of high-dose N-acetylcysteine in patients with cystic fibrosis. European Journal of Medical Research. 2009;14:352-358.
Meyer-Wegner J. Ivy versus ambroxol in chronic bronchitis. Zeits Allegemeinmed. 1993;69:61-66.
Matsuyama W. Effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on inflammatory markers in COPD. Chest. 2005 Dec;128(6):3817-27.