Cystic fibrosis is a disease of the secretory glands responsible for the secretion of mucus and sweat. As a hereditary disorder, cystic fibrosis is a genetic abnormality that severely affects the lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, sinuses, and sex organs. Mucus plays many roles in many of the body’s systems. For example, it lines organs and protects them infection, while keeping them moist and healthy. In cystic fibrosis patients, however, the mucus becomes thick and sticky. Most cystic fibrosis complications arise in the lungs, blocking the airway and providing an opportunity for harmful bacteria to grow. The bacteria can cause respiratory infection, leading to damage of lung tissue. When the thick, sticky mucus blocks the tiny tubes in the pancreas, necessary digestive enzymes are unable to reach the stomach and small intestine – making nutrient absorption extremely difficult. For this reason, vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition are common complications in cystic fibrosis patients. Patients often suffer from symptoms like intestinal gas, abdominal swelling, constipation, and even abdominal pain.
Because cystic fibrosis patients lose large amounts of salt through sweat, their mineral balance causes serious health issues like dehydration, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, weakness, chronic fatigue, and even heat stroke. Cystic fibrosis patients are also at risk for conditions like diabetes and bone-thinning conditions. Typical treatment options for cystic fibrosis patients vary widely, however, there is no cure for this devastating disease. Antibiotics are commonly used to treat lung and sinus infections, while other types of medicines focus on allowing salt and fluids to flow more freely. Because treatment options are limited, many cystic fibrosis patients turn to natural and alternative therapies. Some of the natural ways to treat cystic fibrosis include:
Because cystic fibrosis can cause serious nutrition deficiencies, nutrition intervention and patient education is a critical part of treatment in this condition. Eating several small meals throughout the day and utilizing vitamin supplements is a common method – as consuming more protein and calories throughout the day can offer much of the missed energy due to malabsorption. Nutritionists often recommend that cystic fibrosis patients consume high calorie snacks like nuts, and include as much protein as possible in meals throughout the day.
Cystic fibrosis is one of the few conditions where patients typically need and are prescribed digestive enzymes. However, vegetarians, vegans, and those with specific religious beliefs often do not utilize prescription digestive enzymes, as they are typically made from pork sources. Over-the-counter digestive enzymes are a great option for this group, as clinical studies show that vegetarian-sourced digestive enzymes are just as effective (and often more effective) than animal-based enzymes.
Systemic enzymes can be helpful in relieving the thick, sticky mucus that’s commonly seen in cystic fibrosis. Clinical studies prove that systemic enzymes like serrapeptase can effectively thin and promote expulsion of viscous mucus in human models. The use of serrapeptase does not interfere with other modes of therapy, and produces no adverse side effects, making it a perfect addition to a regimen of therapies aimed at reducing symptom severity.