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Emphysema represents severe lung damage, most often from smoking, toxic chemical/substance exposures, or chronic bronchitis. It can cause significant shortness of breath, wheezing and limitations in activity.

In the past, emphysema was believed to represent almost entirely irreversible lung damage. And chronic bronchitis was the step before emphysema. Fortunately, there does appear to be a significant reversible component to both of these conditions, and at these levels of lung damage even small increases in lung function can translate into large increases in your being able to function.

This means aggressively going after:

  • Airway inflammation, with its increased mucus production that can block airways.
  • Infection.
  • Airway spasm (bronchospasm).
  • Toxic exposures (especially cigarette smoke) that can further damaged the lungs.

Recommended Supplements for Optimal Lung Health

  • Boswellia and glutathione are two key supplements. Boswellia is a wonderful anti-inflammatory herbal (also called "frankincense") that significantly reduces lung airway swelling after six weeks (and usually within days). Optimizing the levels of a key antioxidant called glutathione has been especially helpful. Look for it in sublingual form.
  • Look for a quality multivitamin powder that increases glutathione levels. Consider inhaled glutathione using a nebulizer. This needs to be prescribed by your physician, and unless you go to a holistic physician, they are likely to simply give you a blank stare when you ask about it. Also consider adding colloidal silver to the nebulizer if you have yellow mucus, which suggests possible infections.
  • The nutrients magnesium, vitamins B6 and B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium, molybdenum, beta carotene, and bioflavonoids have been shown to decrease lung issues significantly. You can find these in combination in a good multivitamin powder. You should begin with this simple but thorough way to get nutritional support.
  • Adrenal nutrients can be very helpful in emphysema if you are coughing up significant airway mucus that interferes with breathing.
  • Take NAC (n-acetylcysteine). Take 650 milligrams, once or twice daily. This amino acid further boosts the level of glutathione, and also helps loosen up the mucus that can restrict easy breathing. 

Breathing Techniques and Exercises

Are you frequently short of breath? By practicing yoga, relaxation techniques or deep-breathing exercises, your sense of breathlessness can go down dramatically. Important: for the deepest breath, breathe from your belly rather than your chest. To check to see if you are doing this, put one hand gently over your belly.  If it's rising and falling as you breathe, you're doing it correctly.

Contributor: 

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is a board certified internist and author of the popular free iPhone application “Cures A-Z,” which was ranked in the top 10 of all health/wellness downloads on iTunes. Dr. Teitelbaum is the author of the perennial bestseller From Fatigued to Fantastic! (Avery Penguin), which has sold over half a million copies; Pain Free 1-2-3 (McGraw-Hill); Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy (Deva Press); the Beat Sugar Addiction Now! series (Fair Winds Press);  Real Cause, Real Cure (Rodale Press); The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution (Penguin/Avery); and his latest, The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction (Fair Winds Press, 2015).