It may surprise most of us to learn the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S. is due to respiratory disorders. We may think heart disease, stroke, and cancer and yes, those are top 3 leading causes of death in the U.S. but respiratory disorders has been among the top 5 and continues to be so. While we may consider respiratory conditions as somewhat old-fashioned, they currently affect as many 35 million Americans and while often chronic can be serious. I see all-too-many of those who suffer from COPD, emphysema, and asthma in my office.
Respiratory disorder treatment has limited success using even the latest innovations in conventional medicine. Even the leading lung specialists acknowledge that inhalers followed by or along with steroids to decrease inflammation and address symptoms, and the use of supplemental oxygen are the best we have to offer and if all else fails, hospice. The limited results from this approach are evident among those who come to my office with a diagnosis of respiratory disease. Steroids help deplete nutrients more than any other classification of drugs and their side effects (weight gain, bone thinning, immune suppression, cataracts) often are a challenge for anyone considering using steroids on a long-term basis.
One patient that stands out in my mind was ashen-faced, his lips devoid of any pinkness; he struggled to walk down the hall to my office. The staff had wrinkled noses when they brought his chart to me. It seems he lacked the energy to bathe because of his severely compromised respiratory function. It took just 8 short weeks to wean him from his dependence on the oxygen tank he wheeled everywhere with him.
I started at a cellular level because that is where gas exchange occurs in our lungs. I have adapted the 1931 Nobel Prize in medicine work to re-make that cell membrane in order to improve oxygen concentration in his cells. In short, he uses a daily “Young cocktail” to normalize his protein intake and add some of the “good fats” in the form of flax and fish oil to make a good tasty emulsion. Along with his daily Young cocktail I suggested he consider the use of iodine in the form of Lugol’s solution. Iodine is a great mucolytic agent that thins mucous among other benefits, very helpful for patients with compromised lung function.
He also agreed to try a continuous intravenous (via a PIC line) of vitamin C and magnesium. Vitamin C in levels sufficient to raise the tissue stores is both a membrane stabilizer and functions as a steroid without the risks of a steroid. Vitamin C and magnesium are important for respiratory health and magnesium, in particular, can help to dilate breathing tubes in the lungs.
Often respiratory patients use nebulizers to administer steroids into the lungs. I have adapted the nebulizer treatment to deliver glutathione, one of the body’s most potent antioxidants, into the lungs. Glutathione can help to reverse oxidative stress which is the hallmark of chronic respiratory diseases including asthma.
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest vitamin D deficiency may be prevalent in those with respiratory disorders and asthma. A simple 25 hydroxy vitamin D blood test can tell me where your vitamin D stands. I have learned from leading researchers including Michael Holick, MD at the Boston U. Vitamin D research lab that optimal vitamin D levels may even be 70-100 ng/ml. Vitamin D deficiency appears to go hand-in-hand with asthma.
Other nutrients including the mixed natural carotenes we find in richly colored fruits and vegetables are important to help keep lung tissue healthy. In fact, hot peppers which are rich in carotenes and vitamin C have been shown in the UCLA studies of Dr. Irwin Ziment to help improve lung function. Johns Hopkins University developed a nasal spray of capsaicin (ingredient that makes peppers hot) to relieve congestion. There are nasal sprays available over the counter based on capsaicin that can help congestion and breathing in those who suffer chronically from these problems.
The take-home message is that treatment of respiratory conditions does not uniformly sentence someone to hospice in the end. There are many science-based steps to help build lung health and improve lung function. All the patients who once needed oxygen to walk down the hall or who had to give up bathing because they had to choose oxygen first have treatment options. Pink lips, no more supplemental oxygen use, lungs clear on radiology studies have proven to me that lung function can improve if the body is provided the proper tools to rebuild cell membranes. I am blessed to help restore many of these patients back to respiratory health.