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The best alternative treatment for . . . bronchitis

MagazineNovember 2004 (Vol. 15 Issue 8)The best alternative treatment for . . . bronchitis

Acute bronchitisIf the cough produces clear mucus, it's probably viral, so treat the source of the problem first

Acute bronchitis
If the cough produces clear mucus, it's probably viral, so treat the source of the problem first. If the mucus is yellow or green, try:

* Echinacea, a natural bacteria/virus killer. As a cold remedy, it works particularly if taken as soon as symptoms appear (Curr Med Res Opin, 1999; 15: 214-27). The recommended dose is 200 mg four times a day.

* Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses a plaster infused with herbs, such as Ginkgo leaves and mustard seeds, which has proved to be much more effective than Western drugs (J Tradit Chin Med, 2002; 22: 5-8). To relieve coughing, TCM also uses the herbal medicines Hsiao Keh Chuan and Bai qian. Bakumondo-to, Jiawei Yupingfeng Powder, Bufei Keli and Kesuning Granules also work for COPD.

Chronic bronchitis
* N-acetylcysteine (NAC) at 600 mg twice a day for three to six months brings significant benefits (Eur Respir J, 2000; 16: 253-62). Available as a supplement, it is thought to stimulate production of glutathione, a natural antioxidant that is often depleted in bronchitic patients. NAC thins mucus and attacks harmful bacteria in the mucus (Eur Respir J, 1994; 7: 94-101).

NAC reduces the worst symptoms of chronic bronchitis by at least 25 per cent (Clin Ther, 2000; 22: 209-21). During the winter months, when Swiss doctors gave 400 mg/day of NAC to patients with chronic bronchitis, this halved the number of "acute adverse events", resulting in 50 per cent fewer patients requiring hospitalisation (Pharmacol Res, 2000; 42: 39-50). Studies from Germany have also shown impressive improvements in bronchitis symptoms.

Nevertheless, minor side-effects (nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea) affect about one in 75 patients (Fortschr Med, 1991; 109: 707-10).

* Don't forget short-term high-dose vitamins, particularly vitamin A or beta-carotene. This antioxidant is a potent weapon against acute or chronic viral infections, and can heal mucous membranes (8000-12,000 IU of vitamin A or 5000 IU three times a day of beta-carotene). Good old vitamin C and bioflavonoids also soothe inflamed airways (take 500 mg of each three times a day).

In addition, up your intake of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Harvard research has shown that GLA and EPA from borage oil and fish oils have significant anti-inflammatory effects in patients with bronchitis (Am J Clin Nutr, 2000; 71: 393S-6S).


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