Upper-respiratory infections

Lung disease is the number three killer (behind heart disease and cancer) in the United States, responsible for one in six deaths.

by Dr. Theresa Ramsey — 

Lung disease has become a major health problem in the United States. Below are a few important facts about overall lung diseases, as taken directly from the American Lung Association as of 2008:

  • Every year almost 400,000 Americans die from lung disease.
  • Lung disease is the number three killer (behind heart disease and cancer) in the United States, responsible for one in six deaths.
  • The lung disease death rate has been continuously increasing, while death rates due to other leading causes of death, such as heart disease, cancer and stroke have been declining.
  • Overall, various forms of lung disease and breathing problems constitute one of the leading causes of death in babies under the age of one year, accounting for 20.2 percent of infant deaths in 2004.
  • More than 35 million Americans have chronic lung diseases.
  • An estimated 438,000 Americans die each year from diseases directly related to cigarette smoking, including heart and lung diseases.
  • Millions of children and adults with lung disease in this country are exposed to levels of ozone and particle air pollution that could potentially make them sick.
  • Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema and chronic bronchitis), the most common obstructive lung diseases, are associated with substantial health impairment and work disability.
  • Lung disease costs the U.S. economy $95 billion in direct health care expenditures every year, plus indirect costs of $59 billion — a total of $154 billion.

In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) state that the pneumonia vaccine does not reduce the incidence of clinical pneumonia, (Madhi et al). It makes sense that it wouldn’t, as evidenced by the fact that many organisms, other than pneumococci, contribute to pneumonia, such as other bacteria, viruses and sometimes parasites.

Most of our immune protection parallels our digestive tract and our lungs (the two organs that interact with the outside world), in addition to the skin (which is why it is so important to use skin care products that contain the least amount of toxins; visit www.skindeep.com). Since our immune system was designed to protect us from outside influences, the greatest antibody load would naturally parallel these organ systems.

Anything that weakens our immune system will predispose us to infections of any kind. Environmental pollution specifically puts our immune system on alert, increases inflammation and decreases air exchange ability. Inflammation blocks, but doesn’t heal.

Since we in the Phoenix area live in a valley, our air inversion traps pollutants even more than in non-valley areas. There are two contaminants that we can minimize, one being radon and the other mold. You can purchase kits from the hardware store for under $15 each that will test the levels of pollutants in your home. To test for radon, you’ll have to send the kit out with an additional fee that is well worth it — as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that one in 15 homes has excessive radon levels.

Radon is a radioactive gas found in nearly all soils that comes from the natural decay of uranium. If your tests come back positive, find someone in your area to assist with fixing the problem.  You can find qualified environmental contractors at www.inspectorseek.com.

Also, it is important to support your internal health by focusing on whole foods, assuring optimal bowel elimination (one to three times daily), staying hydrated, resting and sleeping well, and getting moderate, regular exercise. See the recipe in the box for a home lung tonic to prevent and treat upper respiratory infections.

If you desire a naturopathic approach for enhancing your immune system, consider an immune-boosting injection consisting of B12, vitamin C and glutathione. Together, these nutrients boost your production of white blood cells, which is your armor when it comes to exposures to organisms that cause colds, flu, pneumonia and bronchitis.

At home, remember to nurture yourself with immune globulins (immune-boosting capsules or powder), Immunoplus (a blend of herbs that tonify your adrenals, liver and immune system), and acidophilus.

Lung Tonic Recipe


  • 1 onion
  • raw organic honey, harvested locally
  • juice of one lemon


Cut onion into eighths. Separate the pieces and place in a glass bowl. Cover liberally with honey. Let sit for at least 24 hours at room temperature, stirring one to two times daily. The honey will become very liquid. Once done, take out all onion pieces and discard. Mix in the juice of one lemon. Store in glass container (Mason jar) in your refrigerator.


Take one teaspoon daily for prevention or up to six times daily for upper-respiratory infections.


Dr. Theresa Ramsey, co-owner of the Center for Natural Healing in Paradise Valley, Ariz. is a naturopathic medical doctor with a family practice. Her specialty is in Functional Medicine, which explores the cause or path to dis-ease and she is the author of Healing 101. 480-970-0077 or www.drramsey.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 3, Jun/July 2009.

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