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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Brandon Yew and Dr Jessica Gunawan on September 1, 2022

Best Natural Methods To Help You Deal With Cystic Fibrosis

Many TCM remedies can help reduce excessive mucus and phlegm to ease the symptoms of cystic fibrosis, especially coughing and wheezing. Check out this guide for more information.

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Cystic fibrosis is a condition that was formerly linked to a poor prognosis and low quality of life. Few children diagnosed with it lived to adulthood.

However, thanks to advances in modern diagnostics and treatments, the survival rates of patients have dramatically increased.

Medical experts are able to improve their patient’s quality of life by targeting their lifestyle habits and implementing herbal medicine.

In this guide, you’ll learn tips for taking a natural approach to managing some of the most common cystic fibrosis symptoms.

What Is Cystic Fibrosis?

Children are usually diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at a young age. However, with therapies and treatment, they can live a long and healthy life.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition in which a faulty protein affects the body’s tissues, cells, and glands that produce sweat and mucus.

In this condition, it causes body secretions, such as mucus and digestive juices, to become thick.

Unfortunately, the body cannot easily expel the sticky and thick phlegm, causing it to accumulate in organs such as the lungs and digestive tract. It can even affect the liver, intestines, sinuses, and sex organs. 

Symptoms Of Cystic Fibrosis

The severity of cystic fibrosis symptoms varies from person to person. Some with the classical disease develop symptoms in early childhood.

Others may have the typical and milder form of the disease, allowing them to grow until adolescence or adulthood before developing any symptoms.

Patients can receive a diagnosis even before symptoms appear with the advent of screening tests for cystic fibrosis.

Here are some of the most common symptoms and remedies that can help:

High salt levels

An unusual feature of this disease is high salt levels in the sweat of patients. Often, tasting salt when they kiss their kids left parents perplexed!

Thick mucus and a stuffy nose

Most other symptoms are related to the respiratory and digestive systems. Thick and sticky mucus collects in the airways and respiratory passages of patients with cystic fibrosis.

As a result, the delicate airways that help with the exchange of air in the lungs cannot function. This leaves patients with breathing difficulties.

Along with the lungs, the thick mucus affects the sinuses and nasal passages. Blockage and infection of the mucus in the sinuses can cause repeated attacks of sinus infections. Similarly, cystic fibrosis patients tend to have stuffy noses very often.

A persistent cough and wheezing

Typical cystic fibrosis symptoms include a persistent cough with thick sputum that is difficult to cough out. Patients also experience wheezing and breathlessness when exercising. Repeated lung infections are prone in patients with cystic fibrosis.

Hou Ning powder is a traditional chinese medicine that is most suited for those suffering from a dry persistent cough without Phlegm or a minimal amount of sticky Phlegm that is hard to expel.

Inability to gain weight and stunted growth

Thick mucus which blocks the tubes carrying the digestive juices, particularly from the pancreas affects the digestive system. When cystic fibrosis patients consume food cannot be completely digested, resulting in foul-smelling and greasy or loose stools.

As food is not digested and absorbed adequately, cystic fibrosis patients do not gain weight easily and may not grow as much. Newborns and young children may experience complications, including blockage of the intestine and chronic constipation.

Adding chicken essence to your diet is a good way to supply essential amino acids for proper growth. It may also be helpful to add an appetite enhancing soup to help get your hunger levels back up.

Holistic Management Tips For Cystic Fibrosis

According to Real Health Medical Senior Physician Brandon Yew, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) attributes the condition to hereditary deficiencies of the Lung’s qiyin, and yang. This cause Cold, Dampness, Phlegm, Fire, Qi Stagnation, Blood Stasis, and fluid retention within the Lungs.

As cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease, there is no way to prevent or cure the condition. However, patients can effectively manage the disease with the help of medical and natural therapies.

The main aim of treatment is to keep the airways open and unblocked. Patients receive prescription medications to prevent infections, broaden the airways, make the mucus thinner and help with digestion. Here are some natural therapies that can support treatment:

Therapies that keep airways clear

Many devices are available to help keep your airways clear so you can breathe easier.

Cystic fibrosis patients receive training in special ways of coughing and breathing, which help to clear the thick mucus. There are devices available that fit in the mouth and use vibrations to loosen up mucus. Chest physical therapy, in which the patient moves in certain positions to drain the secretions from the lungs, also helps.

Consuming a healthy diet

TCM advises that patients with cystic fibrosis should limit the intake of cold, raw, oily, fried, fatty, starchy, gassy, dairy-based, spicy, or sugary foods and beverages.

Physician Yew suggests incorporating Astragalus rootLargehead Atractylodes Rhizome, Poria, malt, and Chinese yam in your diet to improve digestion and the absorption of nutrients.

Herbal medications

Physician Yew also suggests herbal formulations that dispel Cold, Fire, Dampness, and Phlegm from the Lungs to relieve cough and breathlessness.

These include:

  • She Gan Ma Huang Tang
  • Hua Gai San
  • Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang
  • Dao Tan Tang
  • Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang
  • San Zi Yang Qin Tang
  • Sang Bai Pi Tang 
  • Ding Chuan Tang  

Besides these, formulations that dispel Qi Stagnation, Blood Stasis, and fluid retention, and address the deficiencies of the Lung’s qiyin, and yang are also helpful.

Several herbal remedies are available to reduce Phlegm and coughing to promote better breathing, such as Loquat Compound with Cordyceps Sinensis. Pak Poh Powder is also used in TCM to reduce coughing due to thick, yellow Phlegm.

However, Physician Yew cautions, “Herbal formulations are meant to be used based on the underlying etiology of cystic fibrosis, which is difficult to diagnose. Hence, do take TCM treatment only under the guidance of a licensed TCM practitioner.”

Acupressure

Physician Yew suggests the following acupoints: 

  • Acupoints for cough relief: Tai Xi (KI3), Zhong Wan (RN12), Tai Yuan (LU9), Lian Quan (RN23), and Zhao Hai (KI6)
  • Acupoints to help with copious Phlegm: Zhong Wan (RN12) and Nei Guan (PC6)
  • Acupoints to help with wheezing and breathlessness: Zhong Wan (RN12), Qi Hai (RN6), Zu San Li (ST36), Tai Xi (KI3), Dan Zhong (RN17), and Nei Guan (PC6)
  • Acupoints for stuffy nose: Ying Xian (LI20), He Gu (LI4), and Yin Tang (EX-HN3)

Use Multiple Approaches To Manage Cystic Fibrosis

Though cystic fibrosis is not curable, it is possible to manage symptoms with modern medicine supported by traditional remedies. Share this with your loved ones who may be suffering from the condition to help relieve their symptoms.

References

  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH). What Is Cystic Fibrosis?
  2. Mayo Clinic. Cystic fibrosis 
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Cystic Fibrosis.
  4. National Library of Medicine, 2007, Cystic Fibrosis

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