Cystic Fibrosis – A Brave World of Hope
The very serious condition known as cystic fibrosis affects over 30,000 Americans and can be classified, at present, as an autosomal genetic disorder affecting most seriously the lungs, respiratory system, pancreas and digestive system. “It is characterized by abnormal transport of chloride and sodium across an epithelium, leading to thick, viscous secretions.” For sufferers of CF, hope seems dim. Though life expectancy rates for those living with this disorder have risen significantly over the years (some reaching into their 50′s) CF carries still largely live in a world of medication, surgery and breathing assistance devices. With more and more discoveries being made in both alternative treatments as well as modern medicine, those who suffer from cystic fibrosis walk forward bravely into the hope of a new world of possibilities.
Many who live with cystic fibrosis or assist children or family members with this ailment are all too familiar with the demands such a condition can place upon them, many of them for the duration of ones life. Much effort and attention is directed toward raising awareness and funding to find greater methods for treating CF in hopes of finding a cure. As of today, according to the medical world, there is no known permanent cure, only ways of easing the suffering of those who find themselves thick with this ailment. Many turn to lung transplants in order to lengthen life span and improve the quality of their life. Sometimes this works, and other times, as with other transplants, success is not always the end result. Not always, but sometimes, due to the immunosupressant drugs, infections can find their way into new lungs without the body’s ability to fight them off. Often times, new lungs go on to be the best thing these people have ever done bringing a sort of rebirth into their previously dismal battle with the dis-ease.
Acidic State may contribute
Though there is no known cure according to medical science, alternative medicine sees things in a slightly different light. According to research done by Dr. Robert Young, “All disease or dis-ease, including CF is caused by individual lifestyle and dietary choice or for children how parents are feeding and caring for their children.” This seems like a harsh statement, but according to Dr. Young, who works intimately with all kinds of disorders, he states that cystic fibrosis, like other ‘-osis’ dis-eases are cases of an over acidic condition in the body which can be brought more fully under control through dietary measures.
Dr. Young explains further: “When you choose or parents choose for their children to eat acidic foods or drink, such as animal flesh, eggs, dairy products, like cheese, yogurt and ice cream, you set yourself up for excess tissue acidosis and a serious health challenge, such as breast cancer for a woman, prostate cancer of a man or cystic fibrosis of the lungs for a child or young adult.” One may argue that genetics have nothing to do with dietary or lifestyle choices, to which Dr. Young replies: “The intelligence of the cell or its genetics is only as healthy as its environment.” Suggesting that genes are created by choices, not simply appearing out of nowhere, but have an origin in an environment where certain dietary factors, thoughts, habits, were repeated enough so as to alter the genes in their favor.
Immediately this causes one to think “is this doctor suggesting the parents are to blame for a child with CF?” Yes, and No. Yes, in the way that our choices do indeed affect the way our cells replicate, mutate and pass on to future generations. No, in that we are not taught this, in fact we are taught something of the reverse, leaving us as unintentional contributors to conditions in our posterity that we are only now becoming aware of.
This new science is called epigenetics and it is showing that the genetic expression of a cell can be turned on or turned off depending on changes in the cellular environment affected by lifestyle and dietary choice. The expression of cellular genetics in producing excess mucous in the condition of CF can be stopped when you stop pulling the acidic lifestyle and dietary trigger. The human cell is only as healthy as the fluids it is bathed in, just as a fish is only as healthy as the water it swims in. Change the water and you will change the genetic expression.
This is a whole new way of thinking that must be looked at now in order to protect future generations and give the children of tomorrow the best chance of coming into this world void of certain disorders, disorders we are baffled by today and label ‘defects of nature’ not accepting that we may be able to change them by changing choices we make now.
Another brave writer posting on Healing Talks (who was equally abused for his views on CF) dared to say that genetics may be altered according to our own will and lifestyle contributions, and replied to his audience by saying: “Certainly genes can help determine whether something in a seed grows to become a potato or a carrot or an apple tree. But other factors, lifetime care and surroundings, also come into play whether such living forms are whole and healthy or subject to disease and rot. The same can be true for our lives.” As difficult and challenging to existing beliefs and even science this may seem, I agree completely. Recent studies conducted at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York on longevity report that genetics only have about a 30% influence on how long we live, the other 70% is purely lifestyle choices. Now some may argue that this study was not directed specifically at the genes of those with CF, though the information is still compelling.
For those who already suffer from CF, diet alterations may still add support to traditional treatments and even reduce the amount of medications one must take. Dr. Young suggests, for example: “When you understand that the body needs to be maintained in an alkaline state in order to have sustainable energy, health, fitness and vitality, then everything you drink, everything you eat, every activity you engage in, even your thoughts, produce acidic waste products that affect the health, fitness and vitality of the blood, tissues, organs and glands.” He is simply pointing out that negative thoughts can add acid to the system, while positive thoughts are alkaline. Certain foods are acidic, certain foods are alkaline. Here is an example of a helpful chart to determine which foods are more alkaline and which to eat in more moderation (acid-forming foods).
Dr. Young is not the only one teaching of the importance of ph balance in the body and its contribution to health and elimination of disease. Dr. Nirvana, a California Natropathic doctor teaches and treats many patients based on the acid/alkaline theory and states how an acid environment contributes to many negative conditions in the body including the accumulation of fluids and impaired energy production. Low ph in the body is most certainly a “contributing factor to all degenerative and autoimmune diseases”
Dr. Young reiterates: “All degenerative conditions are caused by dietary, environmental and/or metabolic acids, such as in the symptomologies of osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, ALL cancerous conditions, heart disease and all respiratory dis-eases, including cystic fibrosis.”
Current scientific research documents that food we eat has the potential to alter our genetic coding. This information is so exciting to researchers as they confirm and reconfirm the idea that ‘you are what you eat (see study here) : ” the possibility of targeting beneficial gene regulatory processes or dysfunctional ones through specific food intake has enormous potential for the treatment of countless diseases.”
Herbs and Oils
In a previous article on cystic fibrosis there was mention made of various herbs and essential oils that could be used in order to support the lifestyle and health of sufferers. These suggestions were never meant to be taken as single cures, but rather as measures one might consider in addition to their regular therapies until the time they might not find the need for medications and breathing support any more, as did Jenny Livingston with her essential oil regimen.
Her suggested treatment is the following:
Rub 3 drops each of Frankincense, Cypress, Eucalyptus, and Melaleuca along with 10 drops of coconut or olive oil (as a carrier oil to make the blend go farther) on chest, throat and back. If possible, do so in the morning after showering and again at night before going to bed. After a week substitute this blend with Breathe Oil Blend for three days, then return to the blend mentioned above. These massages should act as an expectorant and help prevent airway infections.
Rub 2-4 drops each of OnGuard Oil Blend and Peppermint on the feet every morning.
Rub 2-3 drops of Breathe Oil Blend on the feet at night and cover with socks.
Diffuse10 drops each of Eucalyptus and Melaleuca nightly (throughout the entire night if possible).
Randomly diffuse Geranium or Breathe Oil Blend into the air.
For immediate relief, deeply inhale Breathe Oil Blend or a Eucalyptus and Melaleuca oil blend (about 5 or 6 drops each) by making a steam tent, adding drops to a bath, or in a shower with the drain plugged.
She finishes her suggestion by saying:
Another thing I like to do is take Oregano as a temporary dietary supplement when I get sick. The bottle suggests drinking one drop in 4oz of water or juice, but the oil is so strong that it burned my mouth too badly. I now take 4-5 drops in gelatin capsules about four times a day as soon as I start feeling a cold coming on, and I continue doing so until all cold symptoms have subsided. I’ve had two colds in the past four months (one of which was pretty nasty) and I was able to get over both of them before they made me sick enough to require a hospital admission - a huge accomplishment considering the run of bad health I’ve had this year. Do I think that these oils are a miracle cure? Not at all. But, have I felt better since I started using them (in addition to all my regular treatments)? Without a doubt!
Several years ago I made a house call to a home where an old man was very ill with asthma. His sons called me over to treat him saying that he could hardly breathe because his lungs were filled up with fluids. He had great difficulty sleeping for more than a half hour at a time, the mucus discharge from his lungs made rest impossible. We gave him a cup of peppermint tea first and then a tablespoon of tincture of lobelia every ten minutes. After about an hour, the emetic effect of the lobelia started to work and the man vomited at least a cup of fluid from the lungs. He continued to vomit non-stop for about 15 minutes. There was yellow, green, and even black, sooty material expelled from his lungs. Now anyone throwing up with that frequency and intensity would have had a bruised abdominal region, but the peppermint tea before the lobelia prevented bruising. Once the excess phlegm was out, the man could rest peacefully for the first time in many years. We later advised the brothers to keep their dad on the mucusless diet and plenty of steam-distilled water (one ounce or more for each kilogram of body weight) and to use the herbal respiratory formula (Resp-Free).
While keeping with Reiki we also experimented adapting our diet in different ways. I had sporadic treatment sessions of many types… Of course I made sure to eat a balanced diet, with multiple vitamin supplements. Lysozyme and “Wobenzymal” (a compound of enzymatic action on bacteria) helped when I had trouble. Also Echinacea drops, which helped with infections when there were no antibiotics. More recently, I’ve been taking Echinacea+Goldenseal+Elderberry when my coughing gets worse, coupled with vitamin C – this generally stops the cycle before I get to the point of needing antibiotics. And if I get to take them (tablets, most usually), I’ve been adding pro-biotics to help my system recover.
I’ve been told chronic sinusitis is the rule in CF. I had some trouble with it until I started rinsing my nostrils with a “neti pot,” a device of Arabic origin that helps you rinse with warm, salty water. This cleanses very well, and I haven’t felt the influence of sinusitis since I started on it.
You can read more about Jenny’s story by clicking her image below.
Surfing, Dance and Yoga
Others have found, as I mentioned, healing through various forms of activity that most would not think a CF person could do. One of these is surfing. From the Cystic Fibrosis and Surfing website: “Due to the marvelous discovery of surfing’s remedy towards cystic fibrosis, patients are able to enjoy their treatments. A daily dose of surfing treats the deadly disease of cystic fibrosis.” Why would surfing help someone with CF? According to studies on those who surf with CF they have discovered: “The salt water inhaled while surfing replenished salt lost due to the defective CF gene. It enters the body and acts as a lubricant to prevent mucus build up (Peck, 2006). It also allows CF patients to breathe much easier.” Calib Remington, originally from Chicago, moved to California to surf in order to help his cystic fibrosis “I now surf to live” he says.
Ryan Morisette is a teen with CF whose favorite quote is a Chinese proverb that says “Those who say it cannot be done shouldn’t interrupt the people doing it.” He says it reminds him of his own inner strength and innate healing power which keeps him dancing and inspiring others despite his serious condition which he has struggled with since he was two. He says that rather than letting CF get him down, he is using dance to heal himself and inspire others that they are stronger than they think they are. He is an uplifting example to those in his community both with and without cystic fibrosis.
“I dance because it’s some something that just comes naturally to me. When I’m choreographing, practising, or performing, I can escape into my own world. Suddenly, I don’t have to do physio, I don’t have to take pills, I don’t have to go to the hospital. Suddenly, I don’t have Cystic Fibrosis. It’s just me and the music. On stage or in the studio, people can see a side of me that is rarely shown. It’s such a great feeling when you just shed that nervousness and just let the music move you.”
Studies involving yoga and cystic fibrosis have been underway for some time and are still in progress today. Currently, the Children’s Hospital and Research Clinic in Minnesota, led by John McNamara, MD has reported benefits of yoga with children who have CF: “Evaluating the effects of yoga on children with cystic fibrosis: pain, sleep, anxiety, and depression and explored the potential benefits of yoga for children with CF. After participating in a six-week series of one-on-one yoga classes, 20 children ages 7 to 21 reported that they felt more relaxed, could breathe easier, and felt calmer after yoga class.”
Another example of yoga being beneficial and even altering genetics was conducted through researchers at Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. They trained 26 people in a meditation practice for 8 weeks who had no prior experience. They were taught breathing, mantra and mind-stilling techniques and were given blood samples before and after the practice. The results were astounding! “All of the subjects’ blood samples revealed changes in gene expression following meditation.” For now, this does not suggest that the genes themselves change, only the expression of them, but this is just the beginning of tests being done on ancient practices that have been used in healing all over the world for centuries.
I will echo the voice of Nathan Batalion of Healing talks by saying – yes, it is scary to have your life feel determined by something you cannot see or touch, like genes. It is natural to rely on what feels like the wisdom of our medical community to assist us in finding answers that we ourselves don’t know. Doctors become the lifeline as do those who have walked the path of this illness before us. We must, however, recognize that modern medicine does not alone possess all the answers, otherwise chronic and debilitating illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis and the like would be healed. In his words: “Wouldn’t a successful healthcare system be decreasing our health costs and a failing system be near bankrupting our economy? Knowledge is not the same as wisdom Wisdom is knowing what knowledge to know, namely the knowledge that is vital rather than irrelevant or misguiding.”
Overall, there are a myriad of possible supportive measures that those suffering from cystic fibrosis can use to assist them in relief. Sometimes a transplant is necessary, especially in late stages with very little options left. Hope can be found in this changing world as those who bravely face cystic fibrosis continue to raise their voice and join hands with both the alternative healing world and modern medicine to embrace possibilities for erasing this dis-ease forever. It is with cheerful hearts and courageous spirits that those who have suffered and assisted others with this ailment rise up with positive attitudes knowing nothing is impossible when you don’t give up. My hats off to you. May you feel supported, lifted up and heard.
Written by: Stasia Bliss
Sources: Dance me Free; Cystic Fibrosis and Reiki; Dr Nirvana Acid/Alkaline diet; Livingston Essential oils treatment; CF and Surfing; Lobelia; Yoga and Children with CF; Oxbridgebiotech.com; Yoga Alters Genes; Cause and Cure for CF; Healing Talks