When it comes to better health, people automatically think of better nutrition and more exercise.
However, there is one other factor that is mostly ignored. It is your “breathing.”
In reality, “breath” is more complex and influential for health. It steadily provides every cell with life-sustaining oxygen, which removes impurities and energizes the body.
In today’s fast-paced (stressful) and more polluted world, breathing problems seem to be appearing everywhere, no matter how much people exercise or eat right.
Also, new viruses and bacteria seem to be contributing to the rise in breathing problems worldwide. It is mostly “due to an increase in the amount and speed of international travel.“
According to the World Health Organization, “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, acute lower respiratory tract infections, TB and lung cancer are among the most common causes of severe illness and death worldwide.” Breathing problems have been on the rise for the last thirty years.
Our lung capacity is about 6 liters. The volume of air we take with a single breath is about 0.5 liters. It indicates that we are using only about 10% of our potential.
Even during heavy exercise, we go up to 50 to 60% of our capacity only for a short time. (Source, page 132)
Breathing in more oxygen is essential for life and encourages the release of more carbon dioxide and other pollutants. The saying goes, “breathing is in charge of 70% of cleansing the body of toxins. The other 30% is through bladder and bowels.“
Taking the above into account, here are three scientifically-proven supplements to help you breathe in more oxygen and improve your breathing problems.
Three Proven Supplements For Breathing Problems
Glutathione is found and continually needed in every cell. The body always produces its own GSH from three well-known amino acids: L-cysteine, glycine, and L-glutamic acid.
And out of the three, cysteine is the primary source of how much GSH is produced in the body.
If we are low on cysteine, then the GSH level is low. NAC is a scientifically proven way to raise glutathione levels.
How Are NAC and GSH Connected To Breathing Problems?
In a Polish study published in August 2020, scientists announced that NAC is useful for:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- cystic fibrosis
- pulmonary fibrosis
- nasal and sinus congestion due to allergies or infections
The study explained that NAC works as an:
- Expectorant – it thins and loosens mucus in the airways, making it easier to rid.
- Antioxidant – it reduces inflammation, and at the same time, it increases glutathione levels in your respiratory system.
They further added that it could “help decrease the severity and frequency of wheezing, coughing, and respiratory attacks.“
Why Is It Important That Glutathione Levels Remain High In Your Respiratory System?
Oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals (substances that cause sickness and aging) and antioxidant defenses (killers of the free radicals), is responsible for many diseases.
GSH is a potent oxidative stress inhibitor. By keeping GSH levels high, you have an incredible chance of staying healthy because you keep free radical levels low in your body.
- Parkinson’s disease
- Liver Disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Genitourinary (genital and urinary organs)
- Gastrointestinal Disease
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Musculoskeletal Disease
And of course, the link between oxidative stress and GSH in respiratory diseases showed that many ailments (rhinitis, allergic rhinitis, chronic rhinosinusitis with or without polyps, chronic ear pain, tonsillitis, Meniere’s disease, laryngeal disease, and chronic cough) are connected to oxidative stress and decreased GSH.
In another new 2020 Korean study, NAC inhibited a particular protein that causes inflammation during an asthma attack. The name of the protein is Claudin 18 (CLDN18). The study concluded that NAC reduced airway inflammation by regulating CLDN18 expression in asthma patients.
NAC has broad-spectrum capabilities against the most severe respiratory illnesses that cause breathing problems from a scientific point of view.
It is safe to use. Side effects are generally mild and include “drowsiness, stomatitis, clamminess, rhinorrhea, and hemoptysis.”
People with chronic bronchitis or COPD have been given 600 -1200 mg per day.
Its benefits are, in part:
- An anti-inflammatory
- A vasodilator (opens up the blood vessels)
- An antihypertensive (for high blood pressure)
- Antihypercholesterolemic (controlling cholesterol levels)
- Antiatherosclerotic (stops fat from building up in your arteries)
Oral supplementation with quercetin can prevent further decline in lung function and also reduce inflammation. A study done on mice concluded that quercetin could stop the progression of lung disease.
In another study, researchers described quercetin as having anti-allergic properties because it is a potent immune system regulator.
It does this by inhibiting histamine (a chemical released by your immune system as a defense against allergies) release.
Concerning respiratory allergies, quercetin decreases:
- pro-inflammatory cytokines (this is an over-production of inflammation created by your immune system)
- leukotrienes creation (leukotrienes are bioactive fatty acids that are responsible for causing airway constriction)
According to the study, quercetin can also control the Th1/Th2 balance.
Th1 is a pro-inflammatory T-helper cell, and Th2 is an anti-inflammatory T-helper cell.
Keeping the balance between these cells will ensure that your body’s immune system does not overreact nor underreact to any given allergen. Quercetin can regulate this process.
A scientific review on quercetin published in 2020 explained that its anti-inflammatory action helps treat asthma, hay fever, etc. The anti-inflammatory aspect of quercetin “helps in clearance of nasal passages, relieves sinus pressure, reduces the symptoms of cold, etc.” (Source on page 189)
Quercetin is found in food sources such as tomatoes, capers, honey, seeds, nuts, apples, onions, peppers, grapes, tea, wine, berries, broccoli, herbs. However, you will only get about “15–30 mg/kg FW (fresh weight).” (1),(2)
Quercetin is safe to use. Suppose you decide to take it in supplement form. In that case, you should take it together with vitamin C since it enhances quercetin’s bioavailability (it does not get destroyed) when your stomach digests it.
L-Citrulline is an amino acid that gets its name from “citrullus,” which means “watermelon” in Latin.
The reason it was named this is that it was first discovered in watermelon in 1914.
Citrulline has many health benefits. Studies show its impact on:
- insulin resistance
- type 2 diabetes
- cardiovascular disease
- skeletal muscles
- adipose (fat) tissue
- inflamm-aging (the chronic low-grade inflammation associated with aging)
- vascular health
- overall morbidity and mortality
Citrulline is a precursor of arginine, an amino acid that makes nitric oxide (NO). Therefore citrulline supplementation can significantly increase NO in your body.
How Does Nitric Oxide Help With Breathing Problems?
Scientists have known for more than fifty years that NO can relax bronchial airways. It is also established that NO can be produced by several cells found in the airways “such as endo- and epithelial cells and inflammatory cells.” Nitric oxide made in the lungs acts like a bronchodilator allowing more oxygen to enter. (Source study)
This study further explains the two-step process of how NO is synthesized in the lungs. (Citrulline is converted into arginine, and after that, arginine produces NO) See Figure 1
One study showed that citrulline’s involvement in making NO helped people who suffered from inflammatory lung diseases.
Another study published in March 2020 explained how supplementing with citrulline helps with numerous health issues, including pulmonary hypertension.
Pulmonary hypertension is an increase in blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. Its symptoms include :
- breathing problems
- chest pain
- ankle swelling
- heart palpitations
The study further explained why it is better to take a citrulline supplement instead of arginine itself.
Citrulline has much more bioavailable than arginine. In other words, if you ingest arginine, most of it will not make it passed the liver.
On the other hand, citrulline, being a precursor to arginine, does not get destroyed by the liver and passes through safely to create arginine.
Citrulline has no known side effects. So, it is safe to take.
For daily dosage, many studies have used three to six grams per day on people. See Table 1
The FDA recommends 2 g to 15 g L‐citrulline daily for healthy adults. See page 9
Always speak to your doctor before taking any of these supplements to determine if they are safe for you.
Breathing problems are increasing worldwide. Environmental pollution, stress, allergies, new viruses, and bacteria are mostly responsible for the rise in respiratory problems.
These three supplements are not cures, but they are scientifically proven to strengthen your respiratory system and your entire well-being.
NAC, quercetin, and L-citrulline are safe to take. Protect your nose, sinuses, throat, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs. With that, I leave you with an inspiring quote on breathing:
“Breath is life. We should pay as much attention to it as any other aspect of beingness.” – Swami Nostradamus Virato