Reverse Lung Damage with a Common Plant Compound

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death worldwide. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute estimates that 12 million people have COPD and don’t even know it. And conventional medicine proclaims there is no way to reverse lung damage, and therefore no cure.

Western medicine simply manages the disease with steroids, mucous-thinning medications, oxygen, and inhalers. A new study conducted by Georgetown University School of Medicine researchers, however, demonstrates that an antioxidant compound has the power to reverse lung damage.

Human respiratory system with lungs and bronchial treeThe Regenerative Powers of Vitamin A

COPD encompasses a variety of lung conditions—chronic bronchitis, emphysema, bronchiectasis, and asthma—that progressively worsen into lung disease, obstructing airflow and causing lung tissue damage. It is thought to be caused by genetic factors, as well as environmental conditions, such as exposure to toxins, chemicals, fumes, and dust.

Emphysema is one of the most life-threatening types of COPD, marked by the gradual enlargement and destruction of small air sacs called alveoli, making it difficult to breathe. Previous studies have indirectly linked smoking to the development of emphysema. The correlation goes like this: laboratory animals exposed to cigarette smoke had a dangerous decrease in vitamin A levels in the lungs…. and low vitamin A levels in the lungs have been shown to increase the probability of emphysema… therefore, smoking increases your risk for emphysema.

Georgetown researchers offer a bit of hope to emphysema and other COPD sufferers. They were able to reverse lung damage in rats using a derivative of vitamin A called all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA). The rats received injections of ATRA for 12 days and actually grew new alveoli! One of the study authors, Dr. Donald Massaro explained, “It appeared that the treatment regenerated the adult rats’ ability to produce alveoli, the small air sacs where oxygen and carbon dioxide move between the lungs and the bloodstream. The production of alveoli normally ends in childhood.”

Filling Up on Vitamin A

Taking even semi-large doses of vitamin A in pill form can damage the liver where it is stored, so it’s best to get your vitamin A from diet. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol), so fill up on a carotenoid-rich diet of carrots, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, and spinach. The Linus Pauling Institute recommends eating these foods either cooked in oil or with fat so that your body is better able to absorb all the nutrients.