Scientists discover natural therapies treat COPD
At the national meeting of the American Thoracic Society (ATS), which is currently was held in Denver, much of the research presented has dealt so far with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
COPD is a progressive disease that is characterized by some miserable symptoms which include constant coughing which causes the gathering of mucus along the airways and wheezing and leads increased difficulty in breathing.
Caused primarily by smoking and long-term exposure to irritants and pollution, COPD is a major cause of disability and the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. The disease prevents sufferers from partaking in their daily activities. And there is currently no cure in sight. Patients have been relying on some traditional and natural treatment methods to relief symptoms.
But here comes an unexpected good news from the ATS meeting.
In two separate studies, scientists have announced a breakthrough that can profoundly help people suffering from COPD. And the treatments are not from Big Pharma but involve a vitamin and an ancient natural treatment.
Traditional Chinese medicine has been using a paste known as the Xiao Chuan, or XCP, for years now to help with breathing difficulty and asthma. The primary ingredients of this paste are natural plants which include Ephedra vulgaris, Asarum heterothropoides and Acorus gramineus Soland.
Mainstream medicine has now found out that they actually work with Beijing scientists finding out that XCP can reduce these potentially dangerous winter exacerbations of COPD.
"We had performed observational studies of XCP which had shown the paste decreased the frequency of COPD exacerbations, but this study is the first randomized controlled trial showing the effectiveness and safety of XCP in the prevention of COPD exacerbation," study author Yongjun Bian, MD, clinical researcher in the respiratory department of Gunag'anmen Hospital in Beijing, said in a media statement. "These data confirmed the beneficial effect of XCP on the prevention of winter COPD exacerbations."
To test its effectiveness, researchers worked with 142 research subjects who were randomized into two groups. One group received either XCP, the other received a placebo paste. Both pastes were applied to the same acupuncture points four times during the eight-week period of July and August.
"Treatment with XCP significantly reduced the frequency of winter exacerbation compared with patients treated with placebo," Dr. Bian concluded in the media statement. "XCP patients experienced statistically significant reductions in steroid use and episodes of shortness of breath, and XCP patients also reported an improved quality of life compared to those treated with placebo."
In another study, Belgium researchers revealed that vitamin D deficiency is a common feature among patients with COPD and the use of vitamin supplements may significantly help patients with the breath-robbing disease.
"Our study shows that high doses of vitamin D supplementation on top of a standard rehabilitation program improve the outcome in terms of exercise capacity and respiratory muscle strength," Miek Hornikx, physiotherapist, and doctoral student in the department of pneumology at the Katholieke University of Leuven, Belgium, said in a press statement.
The research team studied 50 COPD patients with a history of exacerbations who had been referred for rehabilitation and randomly assigned them to receive either a monthly dose of vitamin D or placebo. Patients receiving vitamin D were given 100,000 IUs (international units) in a monthly dose (far above U.S. recommended daily allowance of 600 daily IUS of vitamin D).
And what was the result? The patients treated with vitamin D showed substantial improvement in exercise capacity and respiratory strength compared to those in the placebo group.
"These results support the idea that correcting vitamin D deficiency by adding vitamin D supplements to training programs allows COPD patients to achieve better results from rehabilitation, including improvements in muscle strength and exercise capacity," Ms. Hornikx concluded.
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