Why people with COPD are at higher risk for this deadly condition – and how to avoid it

Volume 6    |    Issue 27

If you suffer with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you’re at significant risk of developing another health challenge. And this one could cut your life expectancy in half.

What’s surprising about this challenge is that it’s not directly related to your lungs. It has to do with your muscle mass. In fact, 25% of COPD patients will develop cachexia, or wasting syndrome. The symptoms of cachexia can include loss of weight, muscle atrophy, fatigue, weakness, and a significant loss of appetite.

What’s scary about cachexia is that conventional medicine says the loss of body mass can’t be reversed nutritionally. So patients with COPD can’t simply eat more calories and reverse their condition. That means there could be “a primary pathology” is causing the issue. That pathology could be as simple as oxygen deprivation or celiac disease. Or it could be as severe as cancer or AIDS. However, most medical theories put the pathology into one of five main causes: (1) energy imbalance; (2) disuse atrophy; (3) tissue hypoxia from arterial hypoxemia; (4) systemic inflammation; and (5) anabolic hormonal insufficiency.

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I suspect all five can contribute, but I don’t think they get to the actual cause. I think the medications are to blame in many, if not most cases. Albuterol and other COPD medications have a very common side effect – they lower your potassium levels. Potassium is vital for muscle health and function. Without sufficient levels, your muscles will waste away. And eating more or taking a potassium supplement won’t reverse the problem if you’re still taking the drug.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a potassium supplement, though. Doing so might be able to slow the decline or halt it. But you’ll need to treat the COPD first to see a reversal. I’ve given many natural ways to do so in past issues of Nutrient Insider, which you can read on the website. You’ll want to talk to your doctor about your potassium levels. Most of the time, taking 99 mg per day is the highest dose you want to take. But your doctor may recommend taking more for a short while to restore the balance.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re taking nutrients to reduce inflammation. Reduloxin is a must for treating systemic inflammation. One study found that having systemic inflammation can make COPD patients more susceptible to cachexia. So if you have COPD, taking Reduloxin could help reduce your risk for cachexia.You’ll also want to take nutrients that can supercharge your immune system and help you build muscle. One of the best supplements I know for building and preserving muscle is AppleBoost. I’ve written about this supplement’s muscle benefits in the past. Bodybuilders love apple peel extract to build muscle. So should anyone dealing with muscle atrophy. You can take it in either capsules or powder form.

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About Steve Kroening, ND


For over 25 years, Editor-In-Chief Steve Kroening has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Frank Shallenberger, Janet Zand, Nan Kathryn Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.

Steve researches breakthrough cures and treatments you won't hear about from mainstream medicine or even other "alternative" writers. He writes in a friendly, easy-to-read style that always gives you the power to guide your own health choices and do more research on your own.