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Medical Advisor

Dear Medical Advisor: My 81-year-old father was slowed down by lung problems four years ago after a bout of the Sidney strain flu. He then had a few more bouts of flu which took a lot out of him.

Dear Medical Advisor:
My 81-year-old father was slowed down by lung problems four years ago after a bout of the Sidney strain flu. He then had a few more bouts of flu which took a lot out of him. He was told he has bronchiectasis and has been on oxygen full-time for a year. He coughs up fluid and is embarrassed to go out anymore. Can we make him more comfortable?
LC, Alberta


There are three aspects to treating bronchiectasis in the elderly. The first is to limit your intake of pasteurized dairy products and sugar. These encourage the excessive production of mucus, which provides a focus for re-infection. Dairy products with live bacterial cultures like kefir and yogurt may not have the same effect.

The second is to use some of the herbs that break up mucus congestion and provide gentle expectoration. White horehound (Marrubium vulgare) is especially helpful because it stimulates the activity of the mucociliary escalator--the tiny cilia cells which move mucus up and out of the bronchi.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is another expectorant which also provides an antiseptic activity for the respiratory system. Elecampane (Inula helenium) also provides expectoration and has an antibacterial action in the lungs. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is helpful in decongesting viscous mucus and in this way can provide the alveoli in the lungs with the opportunity of absorbing more oxygen. Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) provides a soothing element to the mixture so that coughing becomes more focused and productive rather than spasmodic. Echinacea helps combat recurrent lung infections. Narrow leafed plantain (ribwort--Plantago lanceolata) contains zinc, which helps with bronchial healing and is also anti-catarrhal.

The following formula is one that I have used with great benefit to elderly patients suffering from bronchiectasis:

Marrubium vulgare -- 20 ml
Thymus vulgaris -- 10 ml
Inula helenium -- 15 ml
Trigonella foenum-graecum -- 15 ml
Althaea officinalis -- 15 ml
Echinacea angustifolia radix -- 15 ml
Plantago lanceolata -- 10 ml

Take a teaspoon (five millilitres) of the formula three times daily before meals, so the total amount is one hundred millilitres per week. This tincture can be made at many herb stores.

The third measure is to provide special care immediately at the outset of flu, colds or infection. Yarrow, elderflower and peppermint tea (equal parts) is a good mixture to have on hand for this purpose. The tea is made by pouring one cup of boiling water over one heaping teaspoon of the mixture and covering it so that the steam does not escape, then steeping it for 10 minutes. Drink four to five cups a day, hot.
Echinacea and the formula given above, as well as the tea, can keep these infections to a rarity. In addition, massage the chest and bronchial area with oil of eucalyptus. Vitamin C (500 mg with bioflavonoids, natural source) along with garlic (Kyolic or raw cloves) are also helpful in preventing infection.

Dear Medical Advisor:
I am a 38-year-old female. For approximately one year I’ve had a strong, persistent odour, with no obvious discharge. My doctor has done a pap smear, but the test for a yeast infection was negative.
LC, Ontario


The odour may represent the attempt by the body to rid itself of waste materials or toxins which have not been eliminated via the kidneys and liver. Bad smelling sweat is also an indication of the same condition.

General systemic cleansing can be achieved by using pelvic basin drainers such as calendula (Calendula officinalis), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), black currant leaves (Ribes nigra) and lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris). A tea of equal parts of the above can be taken three times daily for several months, using one heaping teaspoon per cup of boiling water. Improve the circulation in that area by avoiding tight pants and non-cotton underwear. Do not allow swimsuits to dry on the body.

The bacterial composition of the area may be improved with vaginal yogurt application (no sugar). A douche for occasional use could be made from 60 grams of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) per litre of water along with a similar preparation of calendula petals. But most important is systemic drainage of the liver, which can be achieved with dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale), artichoke juice (Cynara scolymus), boldo leaves (Peumus boldo) or aubier de tilleul--linden bark (Tillia europaea cortex). Similarly, a regular juicing regime with carrots, beets and lemon juice will be useful. It’s also wise to get an effective daily exercise program going to help the body cleanse.

Medical advisors Keith Stelling, MNIMH; Michael R. Lyon, MD; Jozef Drop, MD; and Stephen C. Malthouse, MD will address readers’ letters from their areas of expertise. If you don’t specify a medical advisor, we will decide which advisor is most appropriate. Please include a cheque or postal money order for $20 made out to: Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby BC, V5J 5B9.

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