Collagen and Lung Fibrosis

Question:  A 50 year old patient came to me with the diagnosis of lung fibrosis (the cause is unknown).  He finds it very difficult to breathe.  Can anybody suggest any treatment to facilitate his breathing?  DrS

Fibrosis is a back-up healing response when collagen repair is not working OK.  So you can see if collagen therapy helps:  predigested collagen protein (or lysine, proline and glycine), vitamin C, low-dose broad-spectrum bioflavonoids, copper, silicon.  Ask about ease of bruising.

Fibrosis is also driven by inflammation and the increased influence of estrogen (estrone and estriol).  The ratio of testosterone to estradiol-plus-estrone might give you a clue about aromatase induction from inflammation; the lower the ratio, the greater the fibrosis.  For MS in women (and according to Jonathan Wright, all autoimmune diseases in both women and men), the ratio of estradiol-plus-estrone to estriol is also predictive, which could apply to men and fibrosis.  Lack of sufficient estriol to balance the stronger estrogens is the risk factor.  Inflammation also causes sequestration of copper (type-II copper deficiency, i.e., decreased copper bioavailability at the cellular (alveolar) level by increased partitioning of copper into ceruloplasmin), which dietary copper supplements do not remedy.  Transdermal copper works well if the skin is close enough to the affected tissue.  With the lungs, you might consider low-dose, pH balanced, chelated-copper-supplemented saline delivered via a nebulizer.  Copper deficiency can also sabotage antioxidant function (SOD1) and skin tanning (melanin synthesis).  Antioxidant function is critical to the lungs.  Ask if he has a tanning problem (tendency to sunburn easily).  With lung inflammation, a HEPA air filter in the bedroom may be a good idea.

DMSO can have a salutary effect on collagen hydration and inflammation, which can be ingested in a very dilute solution, and which outgasses through the lungs in as little as 5 minutes.  The down side is serious bad breath for several days.

But the most difficult thing to assess is probably pH imbalances at the blood level, which affect hemoglobin binding of oxygen in the lungs, hemoglobin release of oxygen in the deep tissues, hemoglobin binding of carbon dioxide in the deep tissues, and carbon dioxide release in the lungs.  The slight alkaline-to-acid gradient from the lungs to the deep tissues drives (pumps) O2 from the lungs to the deep tissues and CO2 from the deep tissues to the lungs; pH stresses can sabotage this mechanism.  Measuring blood pH is exceedingly difficult due to the complex buffering systems of the blood.  Even urine and salivary pH assessments are challenging for clinicians.  If baking soda in water (a short-term blood-alkalinizing agent) causes temporary (15-60 minute) relief and vinegar in water ( a shallow acidifying agent) provides short-term worsening, then acidic blood stress should be suspected.  Alkaline blood stress would manifest in opposite responses.  CO2-to-bicarbonate equilibrium is also affected.  Blood gasses might give you a clue, but low CO2 from hypometabolic individuals can mask interference in CO2 transport.  Breathing also compensates for CO2 disturbances; sympathetic breathing blows off CO2 and parasympathetic breathing conserves CO2.  Breathing challenges can identify CO2 involvement in symptoms.  So can max breath-holding time; <30 seconds indicates high CO2 and >60 seconds low CO2.

If this plays out, the metabolic-balancing work of Bill Wollcott and Hal Kristal can give you further information on autonomic and oxidative imbalances affecting blood pH.   This is based on earlier work by Kelly and Watson (and others?).

I also highly recommend Robert Fried’s book The Psychology and Physiology of Breathing as an excellent textbook for clinicians.   It discusses the role of breathing and CO2 in phobias, panic attacks, stage fright (my problem), tachycardia events (my wife’s problem), social anxiety disorders, hiccups, and more.  Very well done, and accessible.

I hope this helps.  —Steve

Note:  This was submitted to the FACT website.  If you are a scientist, medical practitioner or technically sophisticated lay researcher, consider joining the FACT group of contributors at

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