Chronic lung disease: Naturopathic Medicine Can Help!

Violet, 70, came to my office with the complaint of chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD).

Since her diagnosis, she had been having recurrent bronchial infections and pneumonia. She had a medical history of asthma and the inhalers she was taking were no longer as effective as they had once been. She wondered if naturopathic medicine could optimize her condition.

I told her that I had treated my mother for years with this condition so I find myself well-versed. Many years ago Dr. Bill Mitchell N.D. gave us a great herbal lung tonic to use in many chronic lung conditions and since then I have added it to my COPD protocol and have been getting great results with it.

I vary it with or without licorice depending on the case, but most who use it swear by it. Violet said even though it was hard to take at first due to the taste, now she loves what it does for her!

The first thing I want to do with Violet is improve her immune system so that her body can fight off viruses and bacteria more effectively. The immune system needs adequate protein in the diet and adequate nutrients such as vitamin A, C, E and zinc. With all of the “vitamin bashing” articles and news items over the last few years Violet had stopped taking most of the vitamins that she had taken for years. I explained to her that this certainly is the trend in the media but that those who are writing these articles are themselves not reading the overwhelming research about the efficacy of neutraceuticals! Vitamin A, E, C, D and zinc all support various steps of the immune system and help prevent autoimmune diseases.

Taking probiotics, the microbes that make up a healthy milieu in the gut, is critical. The intestinal tract makes up 80 per cent of the immune system and when probiotics are taken daily they are priming the white blood cells of your body to always be ready to fight infection. This is the first stage or the “innate immunity” of the body.

Another important nutrient for the immune system is Vitamin D.

In most patients I am measuring vitamin D levels in the blood to prove to them that they don’t have enough! Violet, like everyone else, said she spends most of her time in the garden in the summer but she doesn’t get any sun in the winter. Her levels were well below 80, the Campbell River norm. I explained that I prefer levels of 150nmol/L for the prevention of chronic diseases and that I wanted her to increase her dosage to get to this level.

Vitamin D is a natural antibiotic as well as important for prevention of cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis. A recent Swedish study showed 60 per cent reduction of antibiotic use in upper respiratory infections in those who took high doses of vitamin D year round. The medical plan in B.C. no longer pays for 25(OH) vitamin D testing.

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