Preventing Pneumonia

pneumonia

Pneumonia is a serious infection found in the lungs that can be caused by various infections that attack the body, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and mycoplasma. The infection can cause mucus and pus to form in tiny air sacs created in the lungs, making it challenging and painful to breathe. Other symptoms may include fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, fatigue, sore throat, and enlarged lymph glands in the neck.

Oftentimes, pneumonia can be brought on by an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold, influenza or measles. A weakened immune system, diabetes, kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, smoking and exposure to chemical irritants can all increase the risk for developing pneumonia. Because the immune system is already compromised, elderly people are at a high risk for developing this potentially life-threatening illness.

Take care by boosting immunity, reducing inflammation in the body, and creating a healthy living environment. The following suggestions reduce the likelihood of developing pneumonia.


Lifestyle

 

o   EXERCISE is extremely important in order to strengthen and oxygenate the lungs. Doing so alkalizes our bodies’ cells, which will ultimately boost our immune systems. It also promotes circulation which supports all of our organ systems. Try daily light movement such as walking, yoga or tai chi, as all increase t-cell count (an immune cell) within the body by 40%.

Try to walk everyday & incorporate other physical activity 3-4x/week. Do what is comfortable for you and go at your own pace.

 

o   REDUCE STRESS. Stress can compromise immunity by raising blood pressure and increasing cortisol levels. Just like strenuous exercise, if we have increased stress, physically/mentally/emotionally, we reduce and suppress the immune system. There are multiple ways to reduce overall stress levels, such as participating in light exercise, using essential oils like lavender, using deep breathing techniques, meditating daily, getting enough sleep, reading and spending time in nature. This also reduces inflammation and tension within the body.

 

o   HYDRATION Water oxygenates the cells and flushes the body of toxins, helping your immune system thrive. Our immune system works best when all parts of the body are functioning optimally. Water can also aid in digestion and keeping a healthy bowel, which we know is extremely important considering how much of our immunity is found within the gut. The immune system uses lymph to circulate white blood cells and nutrients to all of the body's tissues, and in order to produce lymph we need water!


Nutrition

 

o    ANTIOXIDANTS help the body fight off free radicals, which helps keep the immune system balanced and working properly. By reducing free radicals, we reduce their effects, such as inflammation and suppressed immunity. We also provide a more alkaline environment where viruses fail to thrive.

Some antioxidant rich foods to incorporate into your diet include: blueberries, strawberries, garlic, ginger, turmeric, seaweed, goji berries, pecans, and artichokes. These can be incorporated daily through meals or smoothies.

 

o    PROBIOTIC RICH FOODS are essential to strengthen the  immune system and aid in gut health. A balanced digestive system with an appropriate amount of good and bad bacteria is necessary in order to keep your gut strong and functioning optimally, which ultimately will assist in virus prevention. In order to aid this environment, consume a variety of fermented foods rich in probiotics.

Fermented food sources include: sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso, and natto. Include fermented foods in your diet daily to reap their full benefits.

 

o   REMOVE DAIRY Dairy products are mucous forming and may compromise lung health. In order to maintain a healthy set of lungs, reducing and ultimately removing all dairy products is vital. Dairy products include milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, sour cream, ice cream, whey protein, and much more. Fortunately, there are many dairy alternatives on the market such as almond milk, coconut milk, cashew cheese, banana ice cream, etc.

Calcium can be consumed through various foods that will provide you with a lot more health benefits, such as bok choy, sesame seeds, kale, watercress, citrus fruit, kiwi and almonds.


Supportive Herbs
 

Ginger is an effective antimicrobial agent, helping to support and strengthen our immune system. This herb is also able to reduce any inflammation in the body, release tension in the muscles and relieve nausea, all commonly experienced due to suppressed immunity.  It may help reduce fever by creating heat within the body, helping you sweat out any infection or virus in the body.

HOW TO USE: Ginger root can be consumed as an infusion, capsule, tincture or herbal tea, though I suggest consuming an infusion or cup of warm tea or simply adding ginger to your meals.

To make an infusion: use 3-4 tbsp of fresh ginger in a quart mason jar, cover with cold distilled water and a lid. Shake to mix and let sit during the day. Consume 2-3 cups a day. If no side effects occur, continue use while occasionally alternating different herbs. A batch can be stored for 24 hours. You can buy ginger root at your local health food store or through an online reputable retailer such as Mountain Rose Herbs.

 

Echinacea is an amazing herbal remedy to try for boosting the immune system. It increases the body’s white blood cell count, which ultimately can help the body fight infection. Echinacea can reduce your chance of developing a cold by 58% and can reduce the duration of a cold by almost 2 days. This herb can also reduce pain associated with pneumonia and has anti-inflammatory properties. Echinacea contains vitamin C and flavonoids, which are known to increase and strengthen the immune system.

HOW TO USE: Echinacea root can be consumed as an infusion, capsule, tincture or herbal tea, though I suggest consuming a tea or tincture.  

 

Cat’s claw is an amazing antiviral herb and is able to therefore boost immunity and combat infectious agents circulating the body. This herb can increase white blood cell count and repair DNA, enhancing immunity. Cat’s claw also has anti-inflammatory properties, which is beneficial to the body when fighting off a virus. Inflammation can cause the virus to spread, so reducing the body’s overall inflammation is necessary in order to prevent contracting this virus.

HOW TO USE: Cat’s claw root can be consumed as an infusion, capsule, tincture or herbal tea, though I suggest consuming in tincture form.  

 

Astragalus

Astragalus is an adaptogenic herbal remedy that has been used for centuries as an aid to help reduce inflammation and boost immunity in the body. An adaptogenic herb can help the body adapt to stressful situations, including when a virus or bacteria is attacking the body. It is an antiviral herb and is often used best as a preventative measure. Astragalus has also been shown to increase the body’s t-cells, enhancing the body’s immune response.

HOW TO USE: Astragalus can be consumed as an infusion, capsule, tincture or herbal tea, though I suggest consuming in tincture form.  

 

Elderberry

Elderberry has a long medicinal use for preventing the common cold and boosting the immune system. The berries naturally contain a compound called anthocyanidin, which is known to have immune enhancing effects. It is commonly used for prevention and treatment of the common cold, flu, sinus issues, inflammation, fatigue and allergies. It is a strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, helping reduce the amount of free radical damage in the body.

HOW TO USE: Elderberry can be consumed as an infusion, capsule, tincture or herbal tea, though I suggest consuming an infusion or as an elderberry syrup.


Supportive Supplements

 

Vitamin C is an excellent supplement to take regularly in order to reduce your chances of developing a virus such as pneumonia. It is extremely important for immune response and reducing systemic inflammation build up in the body. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant and is needed in order to reduce stress within the body, which can ultimately contribute to a compromised immune system.

GENERAL DOSAGE: 5,000-10,000mg/day in divided doses, including before bed and upon rising. It may have a laxative effect, so reduce accordingly.  

 

Probiotics- More than 70% of our immune system resides within our digestive tract, so making sure our gut is healthy and working properly is an important preventative step to take. In order to regulate inflammation and immunity within the body, we must regulate and balance the bacteria within the gut. Probiotics also help the body absorb antioxidants, which can boost the body’s immune system. Using a probiotic and consuming fermented and probiotic rich foods can help you do this.

GENERAL DOSAGE: 10 billion CFU’s/day.

 

Colloidal silver, unlike an antibiotic, doesn't create resistance or decreased immunity within the body. This supplement will help increase your body’s resistance to foreign invaders such as a virus, bacteria, fungi or pathogen and, if contracted, can suffocate said pathogen and excrete it from the body through immune, lymphatic and elimination pathways.

GENERAL DOSAGE: Place one teaspoon in a nebulizer or in hot water and inhale for 10 minutes; repeat three times per day.

 

*Consult with a Holistic Practitioner prior to taking herbs or supplements.

 

 

kristin dahl