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Natural Therapies for Emphysema and COPD

Relief and Healing for Chronic Pulmonary Disorders

Published by Healing Arts Press
Distributed by Simon & Schuster



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About The Book

The first book to address emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from a nutritional and alternative medicine approach

• Explains the benefits of detoxification, dietary changes, and food combining

• Details 45 suggested herbs and 26 nutritional supplements as well as information on how to stop smoking

Approximately 35 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with some form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)--emphysema constituting 18 million of that group. Worldwide, as many as 293 million people suffer with these conditions. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in America, claiming nearly 120,000 lives annually. Yet conventional approaches to treatment, with their regimens of drugs and unceasing physical therapy, provide neither cure nor significant relief.

In Natural Therapies for Emphysema and COPD, Robert Green shows that alternative holistic therapies ranging from herbs to homeopathy offer great promise in relieving COPD’s debilitating symptoms. Starting with the basics of the physiology of respiration, Green presents a comprehensive program that includes detoxification, dietary changes, nutritional supplements, and herbal medicine; breathing techniques and exercise options such as aerobics, yoga, qigong, and tai chi; and alternative therapies such as homeopathy, acupuncture, and massage--noting how and why each therapy works. He also details how to stop smoking, includes resources for alternative health practitioners, and provides sources for the alternative products recommended.


from Chapter 8

Exercise, Breathing Techniques, and Other Physical Therapies

The primary aim of physical therapeutics for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is to help you improve your breathing, help restore functionality, increase your vitality, and improve your quality of life. Exercise and physical therapeutics consist of activities such as walking and other aerobic exercises, pursed-lip breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, yoga, qigong, tai chi, and massage therapy.

Physical activity is an essential part of maintaining health in general, and when it comes to building up the health of an individual with COPD, exercise and physical therapies should always be performed to the extent that an individual can tolerate. The sedentary lifestyle that often accompanies COPD will ultimately contribute to a deterioration in functional capacity, cardiovascular function, and skeletal muscle mass. In order to avoid further health complications that can result from a sedentary lifestyle, it is essential for you to maintain aerobic fitness and strength to the extent that you are able.

Exercise or physical therapeutics will not reverse the damage of COPD, but exercise will enable your muscles to be able to extract oxygen from the blood more efficiently. Once that has occurred, you will experience less shortness of breath when you exert yourself.

Unlike therapeutic protocols such as diet and nutrition, nutritional supplements, and herbs, the degree to which COPD patients can become involved with exercise or physical therapies will always depend upon the status of their condition. Many COPD patients are elderly, and perhaps fragile or debilitated, and these are factors that will limit how much and what kind of exercise they can do. It is very important to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.


Aerobic exercise is physical activity that makes the heart and lungs work harder to meet the body’s increased need for oxygen. Aerobic exercise also enhances the circulation of oxygen through the blood. Daily walking is one of the best aerobic exercise activities for a COPD patient. Walking will help your circulation and increase your stamina, and it will help build activity tolerance. Start out by walking half a block or less. Every other day, you should increase your walking distance a little bit. After a few months, you could be walking up to a mile without gasping for air. While you are walking, you should inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth using the pursed-lip breathing technique (discussed below).

Other aerobic forms of exercise that have a positive effect on COPD are treadmill walking, bicycling or stationary cycling, and swimming. As many daily activities also require the use of the arms and the upper body, it is advisable to include endurance and strength training for your upper body in your exercise program. Consult with your physician or physical therapist to find out what types of endurance or strength training are most appropriate for your situation.


Two special breathing techniques especially helpful for people with COPD are pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing. Pursed-lip breathing is a good method for helping to control dyspnea (shortness of breath). Diaphragmatic breathing helps improve the ability of the lungs to expand.

Pursed-lip Breathing

Pursed-lip breathing is one of the easiest ways to control episodes of breathlessness. It is a quick and easy way to slow down your pace of breathing so as to make each breath more effective. Pursed-lip breathing helps to prolong exhalation, which then helps to slow down your breathing rate. It also helps to improve the ventilation of the lungs, keeps the airways open longer, and decreases the work of breathing. All of these factors contribute to easing your shortness of breath and helping you to relax.

Perform pursed-lip breathing as follows: While relaxing your shoulders and your neck, inhale (take a normal breath) slowly through your nose while keeping your mouth closed. Then purse your lips (position your lips) as if you were going to whistle. Slowly and gently exhale through your pursed lips. After you learn this technique, with a little practice, you may utilize it whenever you find yourself having shortness of breath. Always make sure that your exhalation phase (breathing out) is longer than your inhalation phase (breathing in). If you are using pursed-lip breathing while engaged in an activity, always make sure you exhale during the strenuous part of the activity.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing helps your lungs expand so that they take in more air. This breathing technique will help to strengthen your diaphragm as well as help to decrease the work of breathing by slowing down your breathing. When you practice this breathing technique, keep your chest, shoulders, and neck as relaxed as possible. The aim is to keep your upper body still and rely solely on your diaphragm.

Diaphragmatic breathing is performed as follows: Lie on your back on a flat surface, such as the floor or your bed, with a pillow under your knees and your head. Your knees should be slightly bent. Place your left hand on your upper chest and your right hand on your abdomen. This will enable you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe. With your hands in place as just described, inhale slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your right hand. You should be able to feel your right hand on your abdomen moving out. Your left hand on your chest should not move at all. Then tighten your stomach muscles and let them move back in as you exhale with the pursed-lip technique. As you are exhaling, you should be able to feel your right hand on your abdomen moving in, and your left hand on your chest should still not be moving at all.

After you have perfected diaphragmatic breathing while lying down, you can then do it while relaxing in a chair, or even standing. Diaphragmatic breathing should be practiced 5 to10 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day.

About The Author

Robert J. Green Jr., ND, RRT, is a naturopath who holds professional membership with the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP) and the American Alternative Medical Association (AAMA). He has used nutritional and natural approaches to address emphysema and COPD since 1994. He lives in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Healing Arts Press (April 4, 2007)
  • Length: 208 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781594771637

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Raves and Reviews

“An important addition to the growing body of literature on natural medicine, Natural Therapies for Emphysema and COPD provides a much needed and in-depth approach to natural therapies for chronic respiratory disorders. Highly recommended.”

– James Strohecker, CEO of HealthWorld Online and executive editor of Alternative Medicine: The Defini

“Robert Green Jr.’s book on emphysema and COPD is a landmark work. I recommend it as a reference book for all COPD patients, families, professionals, and anyone else seeking self-care tools and other alternatives to complement conventional COPD treatment.”

– Vijai Sharma, Ph.D., director of the Behavioral Medicine Center in Cleveland, Tennessee

“Written for physicians and their patients, the book describes therapeutic approaches including food and lifestyle choices, nutritional supplementation, herbal medicine, and alternative methods such as exercise and homeopathy. It offers physicians and their patients a place to start learning, and hopefully pursuing, alternative, nonconventional methods to deal with these diseases.”

– Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine

“Presents a commonsense approach to managing this pervasive disease through the application of traditional therapies and conventional wisdom. Firmly based on scientific research and extensive clinical experience, this text is invaluable to practitioner and patient alike.”

– Ken Koenig, D.C., former executive director of the National Board of Homeopathic Examiners and presi

“Well written with substantial and accurate scientific evidence. . . . There is a demand for such information by those suffering from COPD and their families. My hope is that medical caregivers become enlightened, as well, with this book.”

– Robert F. Waters, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and genetics at Southwest College of Naturopathic

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