Emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Several lung diseases are collectively known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), including asthmatic bronchitis, chronic bronchitis (with normal airflow), chronic obstructive bronchitis, bullous disease, and emphysema. About 11% of the population of the United States has COPD, with the disease becoming increasingly common among older women. According to the Mayo Clinic, COPD kills 85,000 people a year in the United States.
Emphysema is a pulmonary deficiency usually caused by years of free-radical damage that results in degenerative changes in the air sacs of the lung. Free radicals and changes of antioxidant enzymes are also thought to play a role in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Pulmonary oxygen radical injury and the protective role of antioxidant enzymes in COPD were measured in one study. The results suggest that the increased free-radical toxicity and decreased glutathione peroxidase and catalase activities in red blood cells are involved in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (Misso et al. 1996; Tekin et al. 2000).
In another study, an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants in smokers and in patients with airway diseases such as asthma was proposed. Antioxidants were measured in a group of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients. The results showed that smoking, acute COPD attacks, and asthma are associated with a marked oxidant/antioxidant imbalance in the blood, associated with evidence of increased oxidative stress (Rahman et al. 1996).
In more recent research on the effects of smoking, it was concluded that antioxidants that have good bioavailability or molecules that have antioxidant enzyme activity are therapies that not only protect against the direct injurious effects of oxidants, but also may fundamentally alter the inflammatory events that have a central role in the pathogenesis of COPD (MacNee 2001).
To restore energy production to damaged cells in the lungs and relax bronchial airways, the following nutrients are suggested:
- Coenzyme Q10: assists in cellular respiration and acts as an antioxidant
- Alpha-lipoic acid: functions as a cofactor in energy production, acts as a free radical scavenger, and helps regenerate the effects of other antioxidants
- Acetyl-L-carnitine: transports lipids into the mitochondria to be used in the production of cellular energy
- Taurine: may improve breathlessness and increase cardiac blood flow
- Magnesium: is a cofactor in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and relaxes bronchial muscles
- Potassium: weakness and fatigue are symptoms of deficiency. Consult your physician for blood testing.