COPD – A Challenging Disease

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is an awful and challenging disease. Something close to my heart, I lost a wonderful grandfather to this disease and have 2 other family members suffering. It is caused by long term exposure to an irritant, usually cigarette smoke, but could be other gases or particulate matter as well, that results in chronic inflammation in the lungs. This respiratory inflammation causes difficulty in breathing, cough, mucus production and wheezing.

According to the CDC, COPD (and other chronic lower respiratory diseases) were the 4th leading cause of death in the US in 2018 – almost 15.7 million. Since many don’t even know they have COPD until it is quite advanced or diagnosed, this number is likely much higher.

Symptoms can include shortness of breath that worsens gradually, or during exercise, frequent coughing (may or may not be producing phlegm), wheezing or noisy breathing, tightness in chest, fatigue, frequent lung infections, even change in appetite or weight loss. If it progresses to bluish fingernails, having a hard time catching your breath or speaking, or other potentially serious symptoms such as swelling, fainting or confusion, get to a hospital!

COPD is said to be incurable, and only manageable, controlling as much as possible its progression. Medically, this is done with medications, physical therapy, and if severe enough, a lung transplant. While much of that is likely unavoidable, I believe in trying to handle, or support things, as much as possible with more natural remedies.

One way to help slow the progression or ease the symptoms is acupuncture. After reviewing several research documents on acupuncture’s effect on COPD and the quality of life, I found the biggest difference it made was to improve breathing (lessen dyspnea symptoms), improve exercise tolerance,  improve nutritional state by improving gastrointestinal function (and improve nutritional hematological markers), increase respiratory muscle strength, improve peak oxygen uptake, improve St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) score and inflammatory biomarkers significantly improve after acupuncture.

Nutrition is also an important component. Keeping up high nutrient density in foods that are real, not packaged, can significantly help combat some of the symptoms of COPD such as lack of appetite and weight loss. Making sure that food-sourced Vitamins C, D, E and lots of minerals and protein are consumed is essential in supporting normal cell health, boosting immunity and assisting in lung tissue repair.

While the progressive outcomes of this disease is bleak for the long haul, these adjunctive therapies (acupuncture, good nutrition, good supplementation) can ease the symptoms and help with quality of life. My grandfather walked away from his oxygen one night and in the dark couldn’t find his way back. The sadness I still have, and wishing I had the tools then as I have now to help, propels me into helping as many people with COPD as I can. Breathe easier – give acupuncture a try.

©2021 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.

Medical/Health Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article or podcast should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article or podcast. Readers/listeners should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author, but readers/listeners who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

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