The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care and only under the supervision of a practitioner knowledgeable in the field of herbal medicine. Also, be sure to talk to your physician about any herbs that you are taking or considering taking.
Herbs that an herbal specialist might recommend based on clinical experience, particularly during a flare-up of your chronic bronchitis include:
* Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)- acts as an expectorant, which means that it loosens phlegm in the respiratory passages, making it easier to cough up mucus from your airways.
* Garlic (Allium sativum)- may help fight infection and has antioxidant properties (see earlier discussion under Diet in section entitled Lifestyle as well as the section on Nutrition and Dietary Supplements).
* Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) -- used by professional herbalists to relieve respiratory ailments such as bronchitis; considered a demulcent (soothing, coating agent); you should not use this herb if you have high blood pressure.
* Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) -- also called Indian tobacco, lobelia has a long history of use by Native Americans as an herbal remedy for respiratory ailments including bronchitis. It is considered an effective expectorant, meaning that it helps clear mucus from the respiratory tract. It is important to note, however, that lobelia is a potentially toxic herb. It is considered relatively safe when used in very small doses (particularly homeopathic doses) or in combination with other herbs that affect the respiratory system. Lobelia use should only be considered with the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
* Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)- long history of use in traditional healing systems for bronchitis.
* Red Clover (Trifolium pretense)- used traditionally for spasmodic cough and bronchitis.
* Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens/Sabal serrulata) -- early in the 20th century, saw palmetto was listed in the US Pharmacopoeia as an effective remedy for bronchitis.
Acupuncture for Emphysema
Preliminary studies suggest that acupuncture may help relieve shortness of breath in those with COPD. More research is needed to know for certain if this is an effective use of acupuncture.
Similarly, acupressure (a technique much like acupuncture but pressure from the practitioners thumb or fingers is used instead of needles) may be a worthwhile addition to attending a pulmonary rehabilitation program where one learns breathing techniques and exercises to feel less short of breath. Again, more research in this area would be helpful.
If you are trying to quit smoking, acupuncture is an excellent treatment approach for this purpose.
Yoga and Emphysema
Yoga for emphysema
The rhythmic breathing and slow gentle stretching makes yoga the ideal activity for people with emphysema. It also brings relaxation and reduction of stress and anxiety, which are considered triggers of emphysema. Studies have shown that people who are engaged in regular yoga sessions has an improved emphysema symptom and that medications were reduced by their doctors.
Visualization as Asthma Treatment
Visualization for emphysema
Visualization is a powerful emphysema therapy and has been established in studies done by Dr. David Bresler, Ph.D.,I.Ac., associate clinical professor of the University of California, Los Angeles as found in Blended Medicine by Michael Castleman. He suggests the following technique:
"Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. Envision yourself in a pine forest. Stand next to a pine tree and inhale its aromatic fragrance. As you exhale, sense your breath traveling down trough your body and exiting through the soles of your feet. See your breath as gray smoke that becomes buried deep in the earth. Open your eyes."