Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

What Is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a long-term inflammatory lung disease, or a group of progressive lung diseases, that makes it difficult to breathe.  The most common types of COPD are chronic bronchitis or emphysema, and many people with COPD have both of these conditions.  People who have COPD have an increased risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, or other conditions.  People who develop COPD are chronic smokers, but exposure to chemical irritants for long periods of time can also lead to COPD.  It is a condition that takes a long time to develop and diagnosis will involve lung function tests, blood tests, and imaging tests. 

Signs Of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

The primary symptom of COPD is that the person has a difficult time breathing properly.  Other symptoms can be mild at first, but they worsen as time goes on.  You may experience the following symptoms in the early stages of COPD: 

  • Wheezing
  • Mild or recurring cough
  • Occasional shortness of breath (especially after physical activity)
  • Needing to clear the throat often

Symptoms get progressively work and can be harder to ignore.  You may experience the following symptoms as the condition worsens:

  • Chronic cough
  • Shortness of breath (even after walking up a flight of stairs)
  • Chest tightness
  • Frequent colds or other respiratory infections
  • Lack of energy
  • Need to clear mucus from lungs daily
What Causes Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

In developed countries like the United States, the primary cause of COPD is cigarette smoking.  Smokers, or people who used to smoke, comprise about 90% of COPD cases.  Not every smoker will develop COPD; in fact, only 20-30% of long-time smokers develop COPD.  In developing nations around the world, COPD is often caused by exposure to fumes from burning fuel for cooking in poorly ventilated homes.  Other possible causes of COPD can include:

  • Emphysema
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (only accounts for about 1% of COPD cases)
  • Asthma
  • Occupational exposure to dusts and chemicals

Dherbs Approach...adjusting your diet is always key!

Natural Remedies
  • It may surprise you, but about 39% of Americans with COPD continue to smoke and cause further damage to their lungs.  If you developed COPD because of smoking cigarettes, it's time to put the cigarettes away; and don't start vaping, either.  Smoke is an irritant, just like chemical fumes, air pollution, or dust.  Stop smoking in order to slow the progress of COPD and increase the quality of life.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine has used the healing properties of ginseng, specifically the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, for many years.  Because COPD is an inflammatory lung disease, the belief is that ginseng aids with reducing the inflammation.  More testing needs to be done in order to confirm the effectiveness of this herbal remedy.
  • If you have COPD and regularly experience shortness of breath, it can be beneficial to practice breathing exercises.  Research studies have shown that people with COPD reduce fatigue by engaging in two primary breathing techniques.  The first technique is pursed-lip breathing and the second technique is diaphragmatic breathing.  You can look at online tutorials for proper instructions.
  • Regular exercise is paramount for those with COPD, primarily because increasing one's level of fitness can reduce shortness of breath and improve lung capacity.  Because exercises like jogging, biking, or walking can be challenging for people with COPD, it is advisable to engage in water-based activities, such as water aerobics, aqua walking, and swimming.  Yoga and tai chi are also beneficial because they improve balance, flexibility, and core strength while simultaneously increasing lung function.
  • Curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric, is praised because it is a highly potent anti-inflammatory compound.  Several studies have shown that COPD patients, who took curcumin as a part of their daily diet, had reduced amounts of the colonizing bacteria non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi).  This group of bacteria is believed to cause inflamed airways, so adding turmeric to your diet may reduce the presence of bacteria and improve breathing as a result.
  • It is ideal to maintain a healthy weight if you have COPD.  When you are overweight or obese, the lungs and heart have to work harder, making it more difficult to breathe properly.  Additionally, being overweight can lead to COPD-related illnesses like sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or diabetes.  If you are overweight and have COPD, it is wise to see a nutritionist in order to get you on a dietary regimen for weight loss.  Focus on eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains, and eliminate processed foods, junk foods, alcohol, sweetened beverages, refined carbs, dairy products and meats from your diet.
  • Stress can worsen symptoms of COPD, so it is ideal to reduce stress levels.  Research has shown that high stress levels can make it difficult for a person with COPD to manage the condition and quality of life.  Panic attacks and anxiety, which commonly result from high stress levels, can be dangerous for COPD patients because they already have a harder time breathing.  There are great ways to manage stress at home, including meditation, yoga, exercise, massage therapy, aromatherapy, qi gong, or cold water therapy.
Things you should eat
  • Turmeric
  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Maitake Mushrooms
  • Citrus Fruits (oranges, grapefruit, lemons, & limes)
  • Leafy Greens (kale, spinach, arugula, chard, & collards)
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Mangos
  • Cantaloupe
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, & blackberries)
  • Tomatoes
  • Astragalus Root
  • Green Tea
  • Pecans
  • Ginger
  • Cherries
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Plums
  • Apples
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