Reader’s Question: My uncle has been diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and given a terminal prognosis. Are there homeopathic remedies that might alleviate his symptoms?
Dr. Glenn Rothfeld: First of all, I’m sorry to hear about your uncle. Of course, it’s never easy on the patient who receives a prognosis that’s terminal, but I’ve found that most life-threatening conditions – especially those in which a shortened life expectancy is a certainty – affect the entire family.
My thoughts are with you during this difficult time.
I’ve shared some information on fibrosis with my Health eTips readers in the past, but there are actually several different kinds that can be found in various parts of the body.
To put it simply, fibrosis is the buildup of fibrous tissue in the musculoskeletal system, skin, and brain tissue. We often refer to this process as “scarring” or the formation of “scar tissue.”
We often talk about fibrosis happening in the kidneys – but, in the case of “pulmonary” fibrosis, it occurs in the lungs. And that can make it incredibly difficult to breathe.
Not only that, but that growing mass of fibrous tissue can trigger an immune response which can lead to neurological and other symptoms.
The biggest issue with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is that first word, “idiopathic,” a term the medical community uses to describe a condition that has no known cause.
It’s not that the scar tissue just appeared out of thin air… but it’s just that no one has figured out why.
And with no root cause to address, that makes it a difficult condition to improve.
In my medical practice, I’ve treated problems of pulmonary fibrosis with something called N-acetylcysteine, or NAC for short – specifically, in its inhaler and nebulizer forms. Studies have shown that administering NAC in this way can help delay the progression of the disease.
NAC is a known anti-fibrotic agent, and it’s known to help increase the levels of the “master antioxidant” glutathione in the body – including in the lungs.
I’ve found it can help some patients feel – and breathe – better, too.
And, unlike some of the patent medicines that Big Pharma may push on patients with IPF that come with a high price tag and aren’t covered by insurance, NAC is not only inexpensive but also tolerated well by most patients without side effects.
If you’ve got a question that’s weighing on your mind, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I answer a different question every week, and I might choose yours next.
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Efficacy of N-Acetylcysteine in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4902516/
N-acetylcysteine for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: the door is still open, thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanres/PIIS2213-2600(16)30327-7.pdf