COPD Natural Treatments
by Jeffrey Dach MD
Sally was a 65 year old retired secretary, and heavy smoker. She smoked a pack a day for the past 50 years. She has been short of breath lately and coughing up copious phlegm. Sally has COPD, chronic obstructive lung disease. Her pulmonologist prescribed Salmeterol Xinafoate (serevent inhaler), and theophylline. (1-5) The Serevent inhaler (Salmeterol) is a long-acting beta2-adrenergic receptor agonist drug used to dilate the bronchial tubes in asthmatics. Sally’s pulmonologist gave her a treatment protocol found on this page: Maintenance Management of Symptomatic COPD .(1-5) Upper left image courtesy of Radiopedia chest Xray showing COPD.
Dr. Spock and COPD
COPD is quite common in the population and is a major cause of death. For example, Leonard Nimoy AKA Dr. Spock from Star Trek died of COPD February 2015 according to this obituary in the New York Times.
Inhaled Nebulized Glutathione
Dr. Jonathan V. Wright from the Tahoma Medical Clinic wrote about COPD in the August 2002 “Nutrition and Healing” COPD Natural Treatments Jonathan V Wright Aug 2002. The mainstay of his treatment for COPD is nebulized glutathione, a natural treatment which restores glutathione levels to the lung tissue.
Altered Glutathione Levels is Primary Abnormality in COPD
“Alterations in alveolar and lung GSH (glutathione) metabolism are widely recognized as a central feature of many inflammatory lung diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).” (14)
Inhaled Glutathione may be taken in a nebulizer. Originally, the glutathione is made up by a compounding phamacy and shipped to the user. “Inhaled glutathione requires a prescription and is available from compounding pharmacies such as McGuff Compounding Pharmacy and Wellness Pharmacy. The usual starting dose is 300 mg of glutathione (200 mg/cc, draw 1.5 cc and place in nebulizer) twice a day. ” (7) Quote from Julian Whitaker’s newsletter (7).
A more practical method has been devised by Dr Bishop, using capsules. (Glutathione capsules from Thera Naturals ) . Dr. Sircus wrote an article on Glutathione & Bicarbonate Nebulization using the Glutathione capsules.
Clark T. Bishop, M.D. devised this protocol: Protocol for Augmentation of GSH Levels in Cystic Fibrosis Patients, and Related Information. Here is a clinical study on the use of Glutathione: by Dr Alfredo Visca, and Clark Bishop, et al. Improvement in clinical markers in CF patients using a reduced glutathione Clark Bishop 2008 Journal of Cystic Fibrosis 7.5 (2008): 433-436. (8-12)
SSKI to Liquify Secretions
The second treatment is SSKI to liquify secretions and allow clearance of mucous, SSKI stands for super saturated potassium iodine, an old remedy which works quite well. Although SSKI has been available at the corner drug store for over 80 years, and is generally considered safe, iodine can suppress thyroid function with an increase in the TSH lab value on thyroid testing. This elevation of TSH is usually temporary and returns to normal after discontinuing the SSKI. (6) There is much misinformation or disinformation about the safety of SSKI (see this news report). The elevation of TSH from SSKI is not life threatening and is of little or no clinical consequence. As with most other medical treatments, it is best to work with a knowledgeable doctor who can monitor thyroid function while under treatment. Left image bottle of SSKI courtesy of McGuff medical Supply.
An extract from grapes, Reveratrol, is useful in COPD. see: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of resveratrol in airway disease. by Wood . “We conclude that resveratrol has potential as a therapeutic agent in respiratory disease”. Buy Resveratrol.
Dr Wright’s List of recommended treatments for COPD :
120-200 milligrams of nebulized, inhaled Glutathione, two times per day
500 milligrams of N-acetylcysteine, three times per day
30 milligrams of Zinc Picolinate per day
Three to six drops of potassium iodide (SSKI) per day
200-400 milligrams of Goldenseal twice a day
2 grams of vitamin C twice a day
300-400 milligrams of Magnesium per day (in the form of magnesium citrate, aspartate, taurate, or glycinate)
50,000 units of vitamin A per day
1 1/2 tablespoons of lecithin per day
1 1/2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil per day
400-600 units of vitamin E per day
2 milligrams of copper glycinate per day
multiple vitamin-mineral supplement
Serrapeptidase: mucolytic enzyme shown to be useful in COPD. see:
Effect of the proteolytic enzyme serrapeptase in patients with chronic airway disease. by Nakamura S Department of Respiratory Medicine, Tokyo. Respirology. 2003 Sep;8(3):316-20.
Oregano Oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory qualities, and is of use in COPD to prevent pulmonary infection and reduce pulmonary inflammation.
The Oregano oil may be diluted in juice or mixed with olive oil to dilute further. Start with one drop and gradually work up as tolerates. Some people report good results with inhaled organo oil in a steamer or nebulizer. However use with caution as the oil may be very strong undiluted.
Useful Books on Natural Treatments for COPD:
Natural Therapies for Emphysema and COPD: Relief and Healing for Chronic Pulmonary Disorders April 4, 2007, by Robert J. Green Jr.
Credit and Thanks goes to Dr. Jonathan Wright and Dr Julian Whitaker for much of the information in this article.
Jeffrey Dach MD
7450 Griffin Road Suite 190
Davie, Fl 33314
Links and References:
1) Chest. 2001 Jun;119(6):1661-70. Salmeterol plus theophylline combination therapy in the treatment of COPD. ZuWallack RL1, Mahler DA, Reilly D, Church N, Emmett A, Rickard K, Knobil K.
Patients with COPD often require multiple therapies to improve lung function and decrease symptoms and exacerbations. Salmeterol and theophylline are indicated for the treatment of COPD, but the use of these agents in combination has not been extensively studied.
OBJECTIVES: To compare the efficacy and safety of salmeterol plus theophylline vs either agent alone in COPD.
METHODS: Randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, parallel-group trial in 943 patients with COPD. After an open-label theophylline titration period (serum levels, 10 to 20 microg/mL), patients were randomly assigned to receive salmeterol (42 microg bid) plus theophylline, salmeterol (42 microg bid), or theophylline for 12 weeks. Serial pulmonary function tests were completed on day 1 and treatment week 12. Patients kept diary cards and noted their peak flow rates, symptom scores, and albuterol use, and periodically completed quality-of-life and dyspnea questionnaires.
RESULTS: All three groups significantly improved compared with baseline. Combination treatment with salmeterol plus theophylline provided significantly (p < or = 0.045) greater improvements in pulmonary function; significantly (p < or = 0.048) greater decreases in symptoms, dyspnea, and albuterol use; and significantly fewer COPD exacerbations (p = 0.023 vs theophylline). In general, treatment with salmeterol provided greater improvement in lung function and satisfaction with treatment compared with theophylline. Salmeterol treatment was also associated with significantly fewer drug-related adverse events (p < or = 0.042) than either treatment that included theophylline. The safety profile (adverse events, vital signs, and ECG findings) of the two treatments that included theophylline were similar.
CONCLUSION: Patients with COPD may benefit from combination treatment with salmeterol plus theophylline, without a resulting increase in adverse events or other adverse sequelae.
2) Medications for COPD: A Review of Effectiveness. GIL C. GRIMES, MD; JOHN L. MANNING, MD; PARITA PATEL, MD, and R. MARC VIA, MD Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Temple, Texas Am Fam Physician. 2007 Oct 15;76(8):1141-1148.
3) James F. Donohue “Combination Therapy for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease“, Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society, Vol. 2, SYMPOSIUM: THE SCIENCE OF COPD: OPPORTUNITIES FOR COMBINATION THERAPY (2005), pp. 272-281.
4) Thorax 1999;54:730-736 doi:10.1136/thx.54.8.730
Long acting β2 agonists and theophylline in stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Mario Cazzola, Claudio Ferdinando Donner, Maria Gabriella Matera
5) Nebulized Glutathione for Emphysema Davis Lamson Alt Med Review 2000: a Case Report Davis W. Lamson, ND, Matthew S. Brignall, ND
Alternative Medicine Review. 2000;5(5):429-431)
6) JUBIZ, WILLIAM, SHIRLEY CARLILE, and LYNN D. LAGERQUIST. “Serum thyrotropin and thyroid hormone levels in humans receiving chronic potassium iodide.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 44.2 (1977): 379-382.
Natural Treatments for COPD by Dr. Julian Whitaker:
Inhaled glutathione requires a prescription and is available from compounding pharmacies such as McGuff Compounding Pharmacy and Wellness Pharmacy. The usual starting dose is 300 mg of glutathione (200 mg/cc, draw 1.5 cc and place in nebulizer) twice a day.
8) http://www.glutathioneexperts.com/glutathione-copd-3.html Glutathione Articles – COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) & Lung Disorders
9) Glutathione & Bicarbonate Nebulization Posted by Dr Sircus on December 9, 2010 | Filed under Glutathione, Medicine, Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda)
11) Dr. Clark T. Bishop, M.D.: Protocol for Augmentation of GSH Levels in Cystic Fibrosis Patients, and Related Information
12) Visca, Alfredo, et al. Improvement in clinical markers in CF patients using a reduced glutathione Clark Bishop 2008 “Improvement in clinical markers in CF patients using a reduced glutathione regimen: an uncontrolled, observational study.” Journal of Cystic Fibrosis 7.5 (2008): 433-436.
14) Lung glutathione and oxidative stress: implications in cigarette smoke-induced airway disease. Irfan Rahman , William MacNee
American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology Published 1 December 1999 Vol. 277 no. 6, L1067-L1088
Alterations in alveolar and lung GSH metabolism are widely recognized as a central feature of many inflammatory lung diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
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Jeffrey Dach MD
7450 Griffin Road, Suite 190
Davie, Fl 33314
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