Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a respiratory disorder that is estimated to affect more than 10% of adults over the age of 40. COPD is a progressive disease that attacks the lungs, making it increasingly difficult for the patient to breathe. Advancing age, lifestyle choices and exposure to toxins are the main causes of COPD. Patients with a history of smoking are particularly vulnerable to this life threatening disease.

Conventional medical treatments for COPD depend largely on corticosteroids, antimicrobials, broncho-dilators and anti-depressants. These chemically dependent therapies can only treat the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and often have attendant side effects that make life increasingly difficult for COPD patients. Many people suffering with COPD are turning to alternative therapies to supplement, or replace, their conventional treatment regimens. Natural holistic therapies can help those at risk of COPD to fend of the onset of the disorder, and can give much needed aid and comfort to those already suffering the debilitating symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Prevention is Step Number One

The best defense against COPD is, of course, prevention. Like it or not, much of what happens to our bodies is the result of the lifestyle choices we make. Major causes of COPD include smoking, second-hand tobacco smoke and pollution. The burning of bio-fuels, such as wood and coal, for heating and cooking also contributes greatly to the instances of COPD. While it may not be possible to eliminate all exposure to these factors, there are some steps that can be taken to minimize their harmful potential.

First and foremost, smokers need to quit. Regular use of tobacco is still the leading cause of COPD and other serious respiratory disorders, and quitting now greatly reduces the risk of developing these life threatening diseases. Occupational hazards, such as exposure to chemical fumes and silicate dust particles, can be lessened by the use of masks and other safety equipment. While it is impossible to avoid air pollution entirely, the use of air purifiers in the home, and a close attention to air quality alerts, can help to minimize daily exposure.

Herbal Therapy for COPD

There are a variety of herbal supplements that can provide relief for COPD sufferers. Echinacea and Ginseng have been used for centuries as treatments for respiratory disorders, and recent studies have shown they can help improve lung function in patients with COPD. Both stimulate the immune system, and can help COPD patients to ward off additional infections. Ginseng also improves pulmonary function and increases lung capacity, helping to relieve the shortness of breath that typifies COPD.

Olive leaf and Cayenne are also used in the herbal treatment of COPD. Olive leaf is a natural antibiotic and anti-viral that reduces the inflammation of affected lung tissue. Cayenne can be taken regularly to increase circulation and improve breathing capacity.

Vitamins, Nutrition and COPD

Good nutritional habits are vital to preventing the onset of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as to managing its symptoms. Recent studies have shown that Vitamin E can help prevent the onset of COPD, particularly among women. Vitamin E is essential to the formation of red blood cells, necessary to ensuring healthy lung tissue. It also helps to maintain the body’s levels of Vitamin A, iron and selenium.

For patients with mild to moderate COPD, a regular regimen of Omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to improve overall lung function. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in flaxseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Magnesium is another supplement that helps to promote the health of the lungs and along with regular doses of vitamin C should be added to the diet of those suffering with moderate COPD.

Exercise and COPD

Patients with COPD can understandably find it difficult to exercise. The reduced lung capacity makes mobility an issue, and fatigue an inevitability. However, having said that, regular exercise helps to strengthen the lungs and the cardiovascular system as a whole, and whenever possible should be a part of a COPD patient’s treatment. Even relatively minor activities such as a brisk walk can help to improve overall lung function. Light exercise is also a way of calming the mind, and reducing the daily stresses that can have such an adverse effect on a person’s overall health.

COPD can greatly impair an individual’s lifestyle, sidelining them from many of the activities that make life so enjoyable. But through a rigorous application of natural healing techniques, those suffering the effects of COPD can improve not just their lung function, but their overall enjoyment of life itself.

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