by Kimberly Allen R.N.
These days almost everyone suffering with a chronic illness is looking for more natural and alternative treatments and that includes people with cystic fibrosis (CF). In CF the first step is nutrition, what to eat and what not to eat. Because CF significantly affects the digestive system some believe diet to be the most important area of treatment that people with CF can learn to manage. Foods that should be avoided include foods that increase the production of mucous, like dairy products, wheat gluten, as well as others. Increase foods that decrease mucous production like garlic, onions, and nuts to name a few. Add more foods like pineapple and papaya that contain digestive enzymes. Eat only lean meats, cold water fish or soy. Eliminate trans fatty acids like those in processed foods including commercially baked goods like cookies. Avoid and if possible eliminate refined foods like pastas and white bread. Use olive oil or vegetable oil for cooking. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. Drinking at least 6-8 glasses of filtered water every day is more important than most people realize.
In addition to dietary changes there are numerous supplements that can be used to help the deficiencies caused by CF. Those would include taking a multivitamin that contains trace minerals ans the B vitamins as well as the anti oxidant vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids like fish oils, and digestive enzymes should be taken with each meal. There are also supplements that improve and maintain the immune system that many have recommended be added to the overall treatment plan including Coenzyme O10 and N-acetyl cystein (NAC). Grapefruit seed extract not only boosts the immune system it has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Whey protein is recommended for both the immune system and weight gain.
Herbs have been used for thousands of years to treat illnesses and injuries. They are considered to be a safe way to strengthen and heal the body. Herbs can be found and used in many forms including dried extracts like capsules or powders, glycerites or tinctures. Today you can find almost any herb that is currently known on line or in health food stores. The most important thing to do is research the herb your interested in before considering adding it to your treatment plan. Herbs that have been used by people with CF include Ginko biloba as an antioxidant and to reduce inflammation, green tea is also used for both the antioxidant value and as an immune system booster. Cats claw reduces inflammation and has antibacterial and antifungal properties as well as boosts the immune system. Ground ivy can be used to help decrease the production of mucous and loosen phlegm. Other herbs tht have been used are milk thistle, bromelain, and boswellia.
The noni is a medicinal fruit found mostly in tropical areas like Hawaii. The noni contains all the antioxidant vitamins, all the trace minerals, numerous polynutrients as well as several other major components all in one fruit. The two major reasons for noni’s effectiveness are it’s unique combination of substances and the synergy of it’s substances. There is no known herb or food that has not only the incredible list of substances but, high amounts of key substances all together in one food. Noni is not a medication so results are not seen overnight, however, including noni in your diet long term has shown tremendous results.
In the past it was believed that people with CF should not exercise as it could increase breathing difficulties. We now know that as with other diseases exercise is beneficial. Exercise causes vibrations in the lungs breaking up and loosening mucous as well as the added benefits of strengthening the cardiovascular system and muscles.
As always it’s important to remember that natural and alternative treatments have not been proven to work through science and clinical studies. Never stop conventional treatment to start alternative treatments and never begin any treatment, especially herb’s without discussing it with your Dr first. It’s always a good idea to be prepared before discussing alternative treatments with your Dr so research the treatment you are considering thoroughly and have a tentative plan in mind before sitting down with your Dr.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.