Catarrh is usually only associated with the breathing passages or sinuses, but in its fuller meaning of excess mucus production, it can occur in many parts of the body – anywhere lined by mucous membranes. This includes the nose, sinuses, throat, stomach, intestines, ears, bladder and gallbladder.
Nasal catarrh and sinusitis are the best known forms of catarrh, but bronchitis, gastric problems, intestinal problems and cystitis can all be caused by excess mucus production.
It needs to be pointed out that mucus production is essential for correct functioning of the body. In normal amounts, it protects and lubricates the various tissues where it is needed. However, if produced in excessive amounts, it cannot drain away effectively, and will then become thick and almost solid, instead of semi-liquid.
The treatment is threefold. Firstly, mucus production needs to be reduced, by reducing or avoiding those foods or other agents that increase mucus production. Secondly, nutritional agents that improve the condition of the mucous membranes need to be consumed. Thirdly, there are certain nutritional and herbal supplements which can “thin” mucus and make it flow away more easily by breaking down the links holding it together.
A) Reduce Mucus Production
The most frequent single dietary cause of excessive mucus is excess consumption of milk and dairy products. The main reason for this is probably incomplete digestion. One particular milk protein, casein, is especially difficult to digest, and lactose, the sugar in milk, is indigestible by most people. The partially digested particles find their way into the lower parts of the digestive tract, and even the bloodstream, and set up defensive reactions resulting in excess mucus production. In many cases, there is a true allergic reaction, involving the production of antibodies.
Excessive general consumption of carbohydrates, particularly of the refined type, such as sugars, white flour or any grains with the husk removed, such as white rice, can lead to over-production of mucus.
Any allergy or food intolerance may result in catarrh. The most common offenders are wheat, yeast, dairy products as mentioned above, and eggs. The modern, artificially ripened type of tomato is frequently a problem.
The various synthetic additives, such as preservatives, colours and flavours, are all to some extent toxic, and therefore likely to increase the incidence of catarrh.
Smoking and alcohol consumption can also increase mucus production.
The perfect designer food for catarrh production is the commercial pizza, containing a dairy product, refined wheat flour,, yeast, artificially ripened tomatoes and monosodium glutamate, a chemical flavour enhancer.
Combine frequent consumption of such foods with a lack of green vegetable consumption, and you have the perfect method for mucus production. Green vegetables, as well as containing beneficial amounts of fibre, which absorbs toxic materials in the intestines, also contain protective nutrients such as beta-carotene and chlorophyll, and a wide range of bioflavonoids.
¨ Avoid excessive carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains.
¨ Be a little careful about consumption of grains, even whole grains.
¨ Avoid milk products. Replace with soya milk.
Note: In addition to those factors mentioned above, various local irritants, such as fumes and inhaled chemicals, can cause catarrh.
Also, any substances that irritate the lining of the stomach and duodenum may cause excessive mucus production in these areas, but also cause a weakening of the mucous membranes, leading to easy absorption of irritants into the bloodstream, which can then cause catarrhal conditions in other parts of the body.
¨ Avoid tobacco.
¨ Avoid spices, salt, pepper and alcohol.
¨ If there are disturbances of digestion, such as stomach discomfort or excess gas, address the problem by supplementing with digestive enzymes or digestive acid (betaine HCL).
B) Improve Mucous Membrane Condition
If the mucous membranes are in good condition, they are better able to resist irritant materials, and will therefore produce less excess mucus.
¨ Take at least 7500iu of vitamin A per day.
¨ Take 75mg of B complex per day.
¨ Take at least 10mg of a well-absorbed form of zinc per day.
All of these can be supplied in the required amount in any one of several good-quality multivitamin/minerals.
For a period of up to a month, additional zinc in the form of zinc picolinate at the rate of 15-30mg per day would be advisable.
¨ Vitamin C 1000mg 3-6 times per day. In the case of gastritis, the low-acid forms are needed.
C) Thin The Mucus
There are three agents that can all have powerful effects on the consistency of mucus.
is the best known and cheapest agent. However, there is an enormous variation in the strength of garlic capsules and tablets. They can vary from 2mg of garlic paste to 600mg. At least 300mg is needed, up to four times per day. The best form, in order to avoid gastric irritation, is aged garlic extract.
This is a protein-digesting enzyme. Mucus is partially protein in composition, and bromelain thins the mucus by digesting the protein linkages that hold it together.
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