Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Battling Lung Disease?

What herbs, supplements, exercise and nutritional changes do you recommend for someone who has been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis?

Answer (Published 1/2/2004)

Pulmonary fibrosis is a very serious lung disease. It is sometimes caused by occupational exposure to asbestos or metal dusts that damage the lungs, causing scarring that eventually impairs their ability to provide the body with oxygen. Other known causes include sarcoidosis, a disease that gives rise to the formation of areas of inflammatory cells called granulomas as well as such connective tissue diseases as rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma. Often, however, the cause isn't known. When this is the case, the disease is referred to as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Current medical thinking holds that IPF is an autoimmune disorder or, possibly, the aftereffect of a viral infection.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet! - Everything you need to get started eating a healthful, satisfying diet is here - including eating and shopping guides, over 300 recipes, and an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid! Start your 14-day free trial now - and start eating anti-inflammatory today!

Symptoms usually begin with a dry cough and shortness of breath - especially with exertion - that worsens over time and makes everyday activities more difficult. IPF usually occurs in middle-age, but all age groups can be affected and it develops equally among men and women. The sooner the disease is diagnosed, the better, so that treatment to slow its progress can begin. Conventional medical treatment usually starts with prednisone, an immunosuppressive steroid drug, taken by mouth. Other drugs may be prescribed as needed, and eventually some patients require oxygen to reduce breathlessness and stay active. In advanced cases, lung transplants may be necessary.

Exercise is also a component of conventional treatment in order to improve muscle strength and breathing ability - patients usually are encouraged to exercise even if they need oxygen - in order to manage a daily walk or a ride on a stationary bike.

In addition to conventional treatment, be sure to eat a healthy diet that focuses on lowering inflammation and take an antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplement. You also might consider cordyceps and reishi mushrooms, which are good for the lungs. These come in liquid form or as powdered extract. Follow the dosage directions on the product. Likewise, taking whole licorice may make it possible to lower your prednisone dose. You can find whole licorice as a root or extract. Look for products with six to 10 percent glycyrrhizin and follow the dosage direction on the package. Since whole licorice can worsen high blood pressure, check with your doctor before taking it if your pressure is high.

In addition, I would recommend mind/body approaches such as hypnosis or guided imagery. Practicing breathing techniques can also be helpful as can homeopathy, energy medicine and Chinese medicine. If you're interested, you can learn about clinical trials that are recruiting pulmonary fibrosis patients here:

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here