This post is a continuation of my series focusing on individual herbs. In herbalism, we call in-depth documentation of individual herbs "monographs", and we call a compendium of monographs a "materia medica". My personal materia medica is over 300 pages long by now, so I'd like to provide some of the information I've gleaned about specific herbs that I think the CF community will greatly benefit from. So far we've covered astragalus and elecampane. Today I'd like to discuss one of the most revered medicinal herbs in Chinese Medicine: reishi mushroom.
In this article, originally published in AromaCulture Magazine in July, I discuss herbal and dietary support for CF children and adults. I discuss digestion, respiratory disease, liver support, and modulation of CFTR sodium chloride channels by natural means.
Cystic fibrosis is an autosomal recessive genetic disease that leads to the malfunctioning of several organ systems but most especially impacts the lungs, sinuses, and digestion. It is the most common autosomal recessive genetic disorder (meaning that each parent must be a carrier of the genetic mutation) in people of Western European decent. There are approximately 30,000 people living with cystic fibrosis (CF) in the United States, and more than 70,000 people worldwide.
I've been meaning to write a post about lung collapses for a few years now, and I guess I needed another one (lung collapse, that is) to encourage me to finally get it done. A lung collapse, or pneumothorax, is not uncommon in CFers with advanced lung disease. I've had several over the last four years and two surgeries to correct them. Here I will discuss what a pneumothorax is, what the causes are, what the common interventions are, and describe my experience of those interventions.
I'm sorry that I have been absent from activity on my website and blog in the last year or so. I wanted to give a quick update and explanation, and share a few thoughts that I've been having recently.
The following article is a guest post by Jackie Waters, owner of hyper-tidy.com and someone with personal experience overcoming chronic pain.
Chronic pain is defined as any pain that lasts over 6 months. Over 100 million people worldwide are suffering from chronic pain and if you are one of them, finding relief is your greatest concern. Many people jump to alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain through the use of prescription drugs. However, the repeated use of these pills can lead to an even bigger problem. Here are a few lifestyle changes and tips to help you minimize your chronic pain and restore your quality of life.
My opinions on the use of antibiotics for chronic lung infections in cystic fibrosis have changed a lot in the last several years. This is predominantly due to my personal experiences, successes, and mistakes. For several years, especially around the time that I started this website, I had a very antagonistic view of antibiotics. I saw them as a necessary evil that had to be avoided as much as possible. I made the personal choice to suffer through many months of infection, fatigue, and heavy mucus loads in order to minimize my exposure to this class of drugs. I did this for two major reasons: minimizing the risk of developing antibiotic resistance, and mitigating the impact that excessive use of antibiotics has on the gut microbiome. For about four years I made the choice to wait as long as possible between hospitalizations, and also to do without oral antibiotics for longer and longer periods of time. Upon reflection, I don't think this was the best choice for me, as I lost lung function during that period and developed some serious and irreversible lung damage. It's not clear whether or not this damage would have developed anyway, even if I was more aggressively using antibiotics. But in the last year or so I have changed tactics and I believe my health has benefitted. Here, I will describe my experiences and review why I made these changes.
I must be absolutely clear: this is not medical advice. I am not advocating for anyone to do what I did or to believe that my experiences are ultimately true and therefore applicable to everyone. This is only a reflection on what I have personally experienced. If others can learn from my mistakes in order to benefit themselves, then that's great. But as I mention in many places on this website, every person's health is very different, and what may be useful for me may not be useful for someone else.
Inflammation is a huge factor in the disease processes of cystic fibrosis. Some studies have shown that faulty CFTR mutations may directly result in inadequate quenching of radical oxygen species (ROS) or excessive release of other inflammatory compounds like cytokines [1,2]. In addition, our burden of chronic infection and gastrointestinal complications contribute secondary sources of inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to both localized and systemic issues. Localized inflammation in the lungs can lead to deficient and/or over-reactive immune responses, bronchitis, scarification and airway remodeling, allergies/asthma/hyper-reactive airway diseases, hemoptysis, pleurisy (inflammation of the pleura), and worsened infection. Localized inflammation in the gut can lead to reflux/GERD, esophagitis, gastritis, pancreatitis, gallbladder issues, liver issues, food sensitivities, malabsorption, autoimmune issues of the intestines, gut infections, general indigestion, and excessive mucus production in both the guts and the lungs (by vagal reflex). Systemic inflammation can cause insulin resistance, body pain, arthritis, achey joints and muscles, fever, fatigue, increased risk for autoimmunity, and increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
Hi friends. I recently taught a class on using herbs in acute and chronic respiratory infections. Here is the class description:
Prepare for winter by enhancing your understanding of how respiratory infections develop and how herbal, nutritional, and lifestyle interventions can make a big difference regarding prevention and recovery. In this class we will discuss how to use herbs to address a wide variety of respiratory complaints including colds and flus, acute and chronic lung infections (bacterial, fungal, and viral), bronchitis, as well as chronic sinus irritation and infection. Our focus will be on moderate to severe respiratory illnesses. Students will gain deeper knowledge of how to use natural means to combat infections in order to minimize the need for use of antibiotics, steroids, and other pharmaceuticals.
Below is the lecture, which is split in two parts. I've also added a slide show of my power point slides. Enjoy! Let me know if you have any questions or would like to share your own experiences.
Okay so it's been more than a month since I posted my last herb of the month... sorry! Summer is a super busy season here in Vermont because the growing season is so short, but I hope to post more regularly now (please bug me if I don't!).
Anyway, I wanted to talk about elecampane this month because it is a staple of herbal respiratory care in the Western (Euro-American) herbal tradition and one of the more important herbs for people with chronic respiratory diseases to know about! It is one of the first herbs I recommend to people who have lingering lung infections that won't clear. In regular doses this can be very helpful for people with functionally normal lungs to help clear bronchitis or aid in recovery from respiratory viruses. It's especially helpful when you want to make sure a cold doesn't settle in the chest and turn into a lung infection. In higher doses this may be helpful for people with CF, in combination with other herbs and therapies, who are battling lung infections. It is antimicrobial in the respiratory tract and digestive tract, and is also an expectorant, helping us to thin mucus and clear it out more easily through coughing. Here is a more detailed monograph from my Materia Medica on this helpful herb...
So I'm the kind of person who loves short cuts, when they make sense. Granola is something I like, but it often involves baking, and I am loathe to turn on the oven and waste energy when I don't have to. The Paleo granolas that you can buy at health food stores are usually super expensive and are baked, causing oxidation of the fats in the nuts. So I figured out that I can make a really tasty, cheap granola substitute with minimal prep time, and that's definitely healthier than traditional granola. Win win!
Here's the simple recipe:
DONE. Sweet and crunchy just like regular granola, but much less carbs, no grains, more fiber, and more omega-3's from the walnuts. Plus the nuts are not heated at all, which means their fats are not oxidized nor rancidified like they would be with baked granola. You can also add in whatever other nuts/seeds you fancy, like raw almonds, cashews, ground flax, etc. or other tasty things like raisins or dried cranberries. As always, take bitters beforehand for maximum absorption of the fats.
Mica is a clinical herbalist specializing in cystic fibrosis, severe respiratory diseases, nutrition and digestion, diabetes and blood sugar disregulation, and immune disregulation. Through their own personal experiences with chronic illness, they are passionate about empowering people to take charge of their own health with natural, holistic, and integrative approaches. Please ask questions or share what's worked for you!
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