Q: Grandma, I experience difficulty in breathing almost every day. I think it may be related to my smoking habit. Now, I can barely do any activity without shortness of breath. I’d like home remedies that I can use.
A: Dear L, Emphysema is a chronic, progressive lung disease that causes shortness of breath and difficulty of breathing. By and large, cigarette smoke is the most important factor in the development of the disease. In healthy lungs, air passes through the upper respiratory tract and into the bronchioles and the alveoli in the lungs. Destruction of these air sacs causes the lungs to expand and lose their elasticity. This basically explains why it becomes nearly impossible for you to exhale air (or carbon dioxide) completely, thereby causing shortness of breath.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of emphysema slowly get worse over time. However, there are steps that you can take to slow down the disease process and make life somehow easier.
HOME REMEDIES FOR EMPHYSEMA RELIEF
1. Quit smoking – This is the key in preventing and slowing down the disease. To overcome your nicotine cravings, take niacin (or nicotinic acid) and 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) or suck on some organic herbal licorice root sticks. 
2. Avoid exposure to lung irritants – Exposure to air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust should be avoided or eliminated. Clean air conditioner filters to minimize pollutants.
3. Avoid respiratory illnesses – Even minor colds and flu can affect the severity of emphysema. These respiratory infections may be prevented with vaccines, healthy diet, and regular exercise.
4. Do breathing exercises – Perform pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing several times a day to increase your lung capacity. 
5. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) – Supplements such as N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) can help alleviate emphysema symptoms. NAC, which is the emerging trend in COPD therapy, has the ability to break down the mucus that can form in the airways. 
6. L-carnitine – Carnitine has been shown to be helpful in improving exercise tolerance in people with emphysema. The more exercise you get, the stronger your lungs become. 
7. Omega-3 fatty acids – A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps improve lung function in people with emphysema. Foods such as fish, walnuts, and canola are rich in omega-3. 
8. Magnesium – This mineral is essential for proper lung function. If you are taking medications for emphysema, be sure to increase your consumption of magnesium-rich foods because most COPD medications deplete the body’s supply of this element. 
9. Cayenne pepper and garlic – If you’re looking for alternative home remedies for emphysema relief, these herbs can help. Cayenne pepper and garlic help break up mucus in the lungs and aid in preventing phlegm from building up in the lower airways.
10. Eucalyptus – The anti-inflammatory properties of eucalyptus leaf extract help alleviate the symptoms of emphysema. Inhaling the oil extract may ease breathing and clear the chest.
11. Vitamin antioxidants – Vitamins A, C and E are powerful antioxidants which help protect the alveolar cells from the harmful effects of pollution. They also strengthen your immune system.