Natural Remedies That Can Ease COPD Symptoms
First, what exactly is COPD? Well, COPD is a general term which includes the conditions chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis or emphysema can cause obstruction (narrowing) of the airways and they commonly occur together. Traditional treatments come with a potential risk of side effects, so natural remedies would be very welcome…
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common illness in the UK that mainly affects people over the age of 40. Surprisingly, it is not cold or flu that accounts for more time off work than any other illness, it is COPD according to PatientUK. Also, a flare-up of COPD is one of the most common reasons for admission to hospital.
A recent study has found that diets supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids reduced inflammatory markers and improved breathing and exercise capacity in patients with COPD.
Lets take a closer look at this research.
Traditional treatments can actually lead to infections
First, what exactly is COPD? Well, COPD is a general term which includes the conditions chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis or emphysema can cause obstruction (narrowing) of the airways and they commonly occur together.
Symptoms can include coughing and breathlessness. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no cure and doctors can only ease the sometimes distressing symptoms of COPD. Smoking is the most common cause of COPD, so one of the most important things you can do to prevent this disease from developing is to stop smoking.
Air pollution and polluted work conditions are believed to play a part in developing COPD. However, once you have COPD, pollution can aggravate your symptoms and cause a flare up. If you live in an area with heavy air pollution, doing everything in your power to avoid or reduce your exposure to pollution may help make managing COPD a bit easier.
Conventional treatments for COPD symptoms can include inhalers, steroids, antibiotics, oxygen, and mucolytic medicines (they work to dissolve mucin, a component of mucus). However, these treatments do come with the potential risk of side effects. For example, one problem that might occur when using a steroid inhaler (especially if you are taking a high dose) is that the back of your throat may become sore and a thrush infection (a yeast that lives normally on the body’s mucus membranes) in the mouth may develop.
Also, long term use of a high dose of inhaled steroid may be a ‘risk factor’ for osteoporosis.
So finding alternatives to traditional treatments would be very welcome.
Omega 3s improves exercise capacity
In this new study, researchers at the Kagoshima University Hospital in Japan, gave 64 COPD patients either an omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplement or a non-omega 3 rich polyunsaturated fatty acid supplement. These supplements were to be taken daily for a total of two years. The researchers also measured inflammatory markers, exercise capacity and shortness or dyspnea scores (difficulty of breath) before and after the study.
They found that the volunteers who took the omega 3 supplement had significantly lowered the inflammatation marker, cytokine leukotriene B4. The volunteers also had improved exercise capacity and dyspnea scores. However, researchers found that the volunteers who took the non-omega 3 rich supplement did not experience any change.
Researchers write that, there is an urgent need to develop new anti-inflammatory treatment because no currently available agent, including corticosteorids, can slow the chronic progressive inflammation of COPD.’ However, they also noted that the dose of omega-3 fatty acids used in the study was small and suggest that future studies using high doses of omega-3 fatty acids in COPD ‘might be interesting.’
As you may already be aware, omega-3 fatty acids are found mainly in fish and walnuts, and have been found to also lower inflammation and improve symptoms in a number of disorders including high blood pressure, arthritis and depression. So adding them to your diet could have many health benefits.
Try vitamin C and magnesium to manage COPD
In the e-alert Manage respiratory problems safely an effectively (12/9/04), I told you about a UK study conducted at Nottingham University, that investigated the relationship between lung function and the intake of magnesium and vitamin C.
Researchers surveyed more than 2,500 subjects to assess the relationship between diet and COPD. After nine years of follow-up, subjects who consumed higher amounts of vitamin C had better lung function than those with lower levels of C intake. Higher amounts of vitamin C and magnesium intake were associated with significantly improved lung function in the cases of those suffering from COPD.
I will keep you updated on any new research into this debilitating condition. In the meantime, if you want to help prevent COPD from developing and youre a smoker, you should seriously consider giving up. COPD does occur in non-smokers; however the vast majority of sufferers smoke.