ADVERTISEMENT: Advertising – COPD: A difficult disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a terrible and difficult disease. Something close to my heart, I lost a wonderful grandfather to this disease and two other members of my family are suffering. It is caused by long-term exposure to an irritant, usually cigarette smoke, but can also be other gases or particles, which leads to chronic inflammation of the lungs. This respiratory inflammation causes difficulty breathing, coughing, mucus production, and wheezing.

According to the CDC, COPD (and other chronic lower respiratory diseases) was the 4th leading cause of death in the United States in 2018 – nearly 15.7 million. Since many don’t even know they have COPD until it’s pretty advanced or diagnosed, that number is likely much higher.

Symptoms may include shortness of breath that worsens gradually, or during exercise, frequent coughing (which may or may not produce phlegm), wheezing or loudness, chest tightness, fatigue, frequent chest infections, or even changes in appetite or weight loss. If it progresses to bluish fingernails, if you have trouble catching your breath or speaking, or if other potentially serious symptoms such as swelling, fainting, or confusion, go to the hospital!

COPD is said to be incurable, and only manageable, controlling its progression as much as possible. Medically, this is done with medication, physical therapy and, if bad enough, a lung transplant. While much of this is probably inevitable, I believe in trying to manage or support things as much as possible with more natural remedies.

Acupuncture is one way to help slow progression or relieve symptoms. After reviewing several research papers on the effect of acupuncture on COPD and quality of life, I found that the biggest difference was improving breathing (decreasing symptoms of dyspnea), improve exercise tolerance, improve nutritional status by improving gastrointestinal function (and improve nutritional hematological markers), increase respiratory muscle strength, improve maximal oxygen uptake, improve St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) score and inflammatory biomarkers improve significantly after acupuncture.

Nutrition is also an important element. Maintaining a high nutrient density in foods that are real, unpackaged, can significantly help fight some of the symptoms of COPD such as poor appetite and weight loss. Ensuring that dietary vitamins C, D, E and many minerals and proteins are consumed is essential for supporting normal cell health, boosting immunity, and helping lung tissue repair.

Although the progressive results of this disease are grim in the long term, these adjunct therapies (acupuncture, good nutrition, good supplementation) can relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. My grandfather got away from his oxygen one night and in the dark he couldn’t find his way back. The sadness that I still have, and the wish that I had the tools I have now to help, drives me to help as many people with COPD as possible. Breathe easier – try acupuncture.

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Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbalist with over four decades of experience. Carling is a “health sleuth”. She looks beyond the picture of your symptoms and researches WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place.

Carling is currently accepting new patients and offering natural health care services and comprehensive nutritional supplements at its Coeur d’Alene clinic. Visit the Carling website at to learn more about Carling, check out the list of upcoming health classes, and read other informative articles.

Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 and will be happy to answer any questions regarding this matter.

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