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Cystic Fibrosis

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Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited condition affecting about one in every 2,500 children.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited condition affecting about one in every 2,500 children.

The defective gene affects cells that produce mucus, sweat, saliva, and digestive enzymes and alters protein that regulates the movement of salt in and out of the cells, resulting in thick, sticky mucous secretions in the respiratory and digestive tracts. Respiratory failure is the most dangerous consequence of CF.

The greatest risk factor for CF is family history and people with northern European ancestry. Children must inherit two copies of the gene, one from each parent.

Signs to Look Out For

The symptoms of CF may vary depending on the severity of the disease. While roughly 10 percent of people diagnosed with CF are 18 years or older, more than half are babies. The most common signs in newborns include intestinal blockages, failure to grow or gain weight, bulky or greasy stools, and frequent respiratory infections. The pancreas does not produce the enzymes necessary to digest fat in food; therefore the child does not benefit from the calories and energy in the fat.

Battle Plan

Many treatments are available for the symptoms and complications of CF. The main goal is to prevent infections, reduce the amount and thickness of the mucus secretions in the lungs, and maintain adequate calorie intake and nutrition.

According to a research report “The Changing Epidemiology of Cystic Fibrosis” published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 1993, pancreatic enzyme supplements such as lipase help break down and absorb the fat and are an important part of CF treatment.

Suggested Lipase Supplement Dosage (to be taken with each meal and with snacks)

  • 12 years and up: 4,000 to 48,000 units
  • Seven to12 years: 4,000 to 12,000 units
  • One to six years: 4,000 to 8,000 units
  • Six months to one year: 2,000 units with each meal only

Expectorants such as lobelia can help modify the quantity of respiratory tract secretions. The recommended adult dosage is 200 mg three times a day. Lobelia is commonly combined with licorice in expectorant formulas available at health food stores.

Immune Support

People with CF are prone to bacterial infections, so herbal remedies such as garlic, ginger, goldenseal and other berberine-containing plants, and echinacea can be effective.

Studies show that people with CF have lower levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, lycopene and carotenoids (e.g., beta carotene). Scientists from Yale University discovered that a substance called curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, may help decrease inflammation in CF. Turmeric is found in curry powders and mustard and can be added to a variety of dishes.

Some experts also believe that an imbalance of essential fatty acids plays a role in CF. Flax oil is a good source of these good fats. Children can benefit from one to two teaspoons daily, while adults can take two to four tablespoons per day.

Of course, no matter what the disease or condition, it is essential to maintain the basic foundations of health by ensuring the quality of the food you put into your body, and that you are getting enough exercise, rest, and relaxation.

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