Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a frightening and disheartening diagnosis. And while there is no cure, there are natural options to help treat the disease that can be taken alone or alongside medication.
COPD is characterized by ongoing breathing problems, restricted airflow, and productive coughs. The disease usually grows worse, leading to long-term disability and early death.
It is both wise and vital to protect your lungs against COPD. Both indoor and outdoor air pollution have strong correlations to COPD. Smoking can exacerbate the disease by generating oxidant radicals capable of modifying the structure of the respiratory tract and increasing lung inflammation in COPD.
The 1960s saw the tobacco industry expand the smoking market by targeting women. Perhaps not coincidentally, more women now die from COPD than men, though research indicates that is likely due to women having smaller lungs and more estrogen, a hormone that may exacerbate lung disease.
COPD is also often diagnosed too late when the disease has become advanced. Early warning signs such as shortness of breath are often written off as “just a part of aging.” That’s unfortunate because COPD is the third leading cause of death by disease in the United States. Over 11 million people have been diagnosed with COPD and many others have the disease but don’t realize it.
Levels of inflammatory cytokines are raised in COPD and oxidants play a strong role in the development of the disease. A diet rich in antioxidant vitamins such as N-acetylcysteine (NAC) can counter oxidative stress and may protect against developing COPD. High-dose oral NAC is also used alongside COPD medication as an additional therapy for COPD patients.