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How Antioxidants Support Lung Health in the Elderly

Plus My Top 11 Ayurvedic Formulas For Lung Immunity.

With the Coronavirus Pandemic we’ve all heard that the elderly population is at greater risk due to reduced immunity.  Being in that crowd myself (I’m 64), when I hear this statement on TV, 2 questions come to mind:

  1. What are the precise reasons our respiratory immune system becomes weaker when we get older?
  2. Is there anything we can do right now to boost our natural protective mechanisms, especially in the lungs?

In this article I’ll outline the scientific data that explains why our lungs become more vulnerable to infection and pneumonia as we get older.  I’ll also outline my Top 11 Ayurvedic Formulas that we can use right now to help protect out lungs.

Health is about balance.  When I was researching and writing this article it became abundantly clear that Health relies on the incredible intelligence built into our physiology.  Also, if this system goes too far out of balance then Health is lost and of course we then call it disease.  When reading this article, keep in mind that disease is a lack of Health, a lack of balance in the multitude of biological and physiological systems that exist.  In other words, just like darkness can’t exist in the presence of light, disease isn’t present when we’re Healthy.

This article breaks down into 2 basic sections, the Why and the Solutions.  In the Why section I describe a lot of detail from both current and ancient Science.  I include this for those who want to know.  On the other hand, if you want to skip the theoretical and jump right into the practical steps to improving lung immunity, then scroll down to the Solution section.

The Why

As most of you are probably doing, I’ve been researching a lot about the Coronavirus.  I came across a video by Dr. Ben Lynch in which he discussed the connection between low antioxidant levels and CAP (Community-Acquired Pneumonia) in the elderly.  Remember, in severe cases of Coronavirus, the patient can eventually die of Pneumonia.

Here are some key points I took from his video and from other studies:

    1. Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is a frequent cause for hospital admission that results in significant costs for the health care system and represents the most frequent cause of death of infectious origin (Butt and Swiatto, 2011).
    2. Regardless of how oxidative stress is defined, a persistent pro-oxidant environment in the airway can modify redox-sensitive molecules and contribute to the functional impairment of the lung (Finkel, 2011)
    3. The glutathione system plays a key role in the control of pro-inflammatory processes in the lungs, being involved in immune modulation, remodeling of the extracellular matrix, apoptosis and mitochondrial respiration (Yang et al., 2006).
    4. The protective mechanism is based on the redox environment in lung fluids and is one of the important factors in determining the contribution of innate and adaptive immune systems against infection, independent of etiology. In the normal lung an extremely high level of extracellular antioxidant concentration is able maintain this compartment in a highly reduced state to facilitate the maintenance of an efficient immune response (Crapo, 2003).

Relationship between severity of adult community-acquired pneumonia and impairment of the antioxidant defense system, Biol. Res. vol.46 no.2 Santiago  2013

So, what does all that mean? 

  1. CAP is the most frequent cause of death from infections.
  2. Oxidative stress refers to Free Radicals. These are highly reactive inflammatory and destructive molecules. So, a “pro-oxidant environment” means a lot of inflammation and destruction of tissue.  As a defense against invading organisms, the body produces a massive influx of biological chemicals such as Phagocytes, Polymorphonuclear Neutrophils and Macrophages to kill the organisms.  However, this increases what is called Reactive Oxidative Stress (ROS) resulting in a lot of inflammation and fluid in the lungs.  If enough Antioxidants aren’t available to check the inflammatory process, the Pro-Oxidants can overwhelm the Lungs and the patient can literally drown in the fluid buildup.  That’s called Pneumonia.
  3. Glutathione (GSH) is one of the most powerful antioxidants. It provides protection to the lungs through the Redox System:
Present in high concentrations in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), GSH provides protection to the lung from oxidative injury induced by different endogenous or exogenous pulmonary toxicants. Its depletion in the lung has been associated with the increased risk of lung damage and disease. The redox system of GSH consists of primary and secondary antioxidants
Glutathione redox system in oxidative lung injury.  Rahman Q1, Abidi P, Afaq F, Schiffmann D, Mossman BT, Kamp DW, Athar M. Crit Rev Toxicol. 1999 Nov;29(6):543-68 
  1. The role of Glutathione along with other antioxidants such as Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), CoQ10, Magnesium and Vitamins D, A, E, C protect the lungs from being overwhelmed with inflammation and fluid during an attack from an invading organism.

So, now we understand the role of Glutathione and other antioxidants in preventing Pneumonia.  Unfortunately, as we get older the level of these vital biochemicals reduce as these studies indicate.  Furthermore, there's a correlation between reduced Glutathione levels and Multimorbidity (2 or more chronic health conditions in the same individual)

Our results show an association between low baseline tGSH levels and a higher rate of multimorbidity development over 6 years in a large population-based sample of older adults.
Glutathione Serum Levels and Rate of Multimorbidity Development in Older Adults. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, glz101, Published: 25 April 2019


Ayurvedic Answers

But why do the levels go down as we get older?  This is where I turn to Ayurveda for answers.  The ancient doctors knew thousands of years before modern science that our digestive system was the key to maintaining health.  My teacher Vaidya Mishra explained to me the importance of the Colon (the brain of the brain as they called it) and the Liver.  He taught that the friendly bacteria called Yoginis stand at the doorway between the outer environment and the internal aspects of our physiology.  He said they protect us from allowing unwanted substances entering the blood stream such as toxins, allergens and undigested proteins.  They make the intelligent decision about what goes into the body and what goes out as waste product.  When depleted or weakened, the intelligent absorption of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and elimination of waste products is disturbed. Thus, lower levels of fat-soluble antioxidant Vitamins such as Vitamin A, E and D.

I’ve notice in most of my patients a depletion in the probiotic bacteria of the gut called dysbiosis.  In another article I’ll explain more about the importance of the gut and its connection to the brain and intelligence of the whole body.  However, the point to make here is that dysbiosis disrupts the intelligence of the gut allowing for the influx of unwanted material into the bloodstream thus weakening the absorption of nutrients.

Once this defense system is breached the next stop for the blood is the Liver.  Vaidya Mishra told me that in Ayurveda the Liver is considered the most important digestive organ of the body.  The Stomach breaks down the food and the Colon separates out waste product from nutrition sending those nutrients to the Liver.  The liver converts the nutrients into healthy blood while also providing detoxification.  So, the Liver is responsible for our “Life Blood”. 

However, if our diet isn’t good (see my article Is Your Food Dumb, Dead Or Intelligent) along with a dysbiotic Colon then toxins can overwhelm the Liver’s ability to do its job.  When this happens the Liver releases acidic toxins (Ama Visha in Ayurvedic terms and Free Radicals in Scientific language) back into the blood stream.  These acidic toxins then go to the Lungs, the next stop in blood flow.  If they stick in the Lung tissue, they impair the immune function of the Lungs. 

Also, the Liver is responsible for making Glutathione!  Remember, it’s the lack of abundant Glutathione and other antioxidants that creates imbalance in the Redox system allowing the Pro-oxidants to overwhelm the lungs resulting in Pneumonia.

The increased acidic toxins in the blood also cause the channels of the body to shrink reducing delivery of nutrients to the targeted tissues and elimination of waste products.  Over time this can even affect our cellular metabolism.  The mitochondria of the cells produce Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) and CoQ10.

ALA is another antioxidant responsible for reducing lung inflammation:

Data from this study demonstrated that LPS-induced pulmonary pathological features of ALI including alveolitis, leukocytes infiltration, increase of alveolar wall thickness, protein leakage, and edema could be significantly attenuated by pretreatment or posttreatment with ALA.
The Protective Effect of Alpha-Lipoic Acid in Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Acute Lung Injury Is Mediated by Heme Oxygenase-1.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Respiratory Tract Infectious Diseases: Prevention and Treatments. Volume 2013 |ArticleID 590363 | 12 pages

 CoQ10 has a similar effect as ALA.  It protects the lipid membrane of the cells.

the deficiency of coenzyme Q10 leads to the dysfunction of the respiratory chain … Antioxidants, such as CoQ10, can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.
Coenzyme Q10: The essential nutrient. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011 Jul-Sep; 3(3): 466–467.doi: 10.4103/0975-7406.84471

Lack of Magnesium from poor nutrition and/or poor absorption can also affect lung function.  Mg and Calcium are inversely proportional.  Mg blocks Ca.  High Ca levels can restrict the airways of the lungs.

These findings indicate that pulmonary patients should be monitored routinely for magnesium deficiency.
Role of magnesium in regulation of lung function. J Am Diet Assoc. 1993 Jun;93(6):674-7.

 In summary, the body in general and the Lungs specifically depend on an abundance of various antioxidants to balance the inflammation caused by Free Radicals in the body whether created by poor digestion in the Colon and Liver or by an inflammatory immune response in the lungs.

From years of physiological stress probably from a combination of dietary, emotional and environmental factors, our ability to absorb nutrients diminishes.  Likewise, our Liver and Cellular metabolism is impaired resulting in a reduction of vital antioxidants.

Ayurveda describes it in more basic terms.

Soma the Lunar energy is responsible for lubrication, cooling and stabilization of the physiology.  It directly creates Ojas. Ojas is referred to as the integrating factor. 

Ojas in modern terms is the biochemicals necessary to maintain physiological balance including antioxidants like Glutathione, Vitamin D, ALA, CoQ10 etc.

Agni, the Solar energy is responsible for drying, heating and transformational processes in the body.  Too much Agni creates inflammation.

Agni and Soma are inversely proportional.

Marut is the etheric energy that balances Soma and Agni. 

Remember in the beginning I stated that health requires balance.  Ayurveda describes in simple language the fundamental basic conditions that allow these complicated physiological processes to go out of balance:

When Soma (alkalinity, stabilization and lubrication) go low, then Ojas (antioxidants in this case) also go low.  Soma and Agni are inversely proportional.  So, Soma goes low and Agni (inflammation) goes high.

Therefore, due to improper diet and lifestyle along with exposure to environmental factors our Soma goes low and Agni goes high.  Increased inflammation reduces Ojas (antioxidants) and puts us at greater risk for Lung and other diseases.

The Solution

From an Ayurvedic point of view the solution is simple.  Improve the intelligent functioning of digestive system through proper diet and lifestyle.  Also, take steps to increase Soma thereby reducing the inflammatory effects of too much Agni.  This also increases Ojas and strengthens immunity.

In my article How to Stay Health In Cold & Flu Season I outlined many of the basic steps about diet and lifestyle.

So, here are my Top 11 Ayurvedic Formulas that support Lung Immunity.   There are more but they’re too numerous to list.

We have all these products available.  Just click the links for more information.

Guduchi Plus L-Glutathione & ALA

(my number 1 recommendation)

Guduchi Plus was developed by Vaidya Mishra before his passing but never released.  It’s timely to have it available now.  It contains Guduchi the premier herb for liver function and antioxidant effects.  Further, Vaidya included L-Glutathione and Alpha Lipoic Acid.  The combination of these 3 ingredients creates a powerful protective influence for the lungs.   Due to Guduchi’s detoxifying nature, I would recommend this product only to my patients who are following good diet ad routine.  Otherwise, use the Transdermal Creams for a milder effect:


Moringa has long been used in Ayurveda.  It’s being touted as today’s superfood for good reason:

  • 7 times more Vitamin C than oranges
  • 10 times more Vitamin A than carrots
  • 17 times more Calcium than milk
  • 9 times more protein than Yogurt
  • 15 times more Potassium than bananas
  • 25 times more Iron than spinach.

We have Moringa in 2 forms:

Moringa tea with cardamom and coriander

Moringa Glycerite drops that can be added to spring water.


A powerful antioxidant which improves bronchial dilation.  We have it in 3 forms:

Magnesium Transdermal Cream

Vata Massage Oil with Magnesium and Vitamin D

Pitta Massage Oil with Magnesium

Biologic CoQ10

CoQ10 is another powerful antioxidant that directly improves respiratory function.  We provide it as CoQ10 Transdermal Cream.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is another antioxidant vitamin.  It’s part of the fat soluble family of Vitamins: D,A,E and K.  Did you know however, that high doses of those Vitamins are toxic to the Liver?  That’s why we offer Vitamin D in a safe to use transdermal cream and massage oil.

Vitamin D Transdermal Cream

Vata Massage Oil with Magnesium and Vitamin D

Wild Amla

Amalaki aka Indian Gooseberry is a high source of Vitamin C.  The vitamin C is unique and shown to be a more potent antioxidant than regular Vitamin C. CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 81, NO. 2, 25 JULY 2001

We use the most potent form of Amalaki which is harvested form the forests instead of the commercially hybridized versions.  We offer it as in a tablet and Glycerite drop.

Wild Amla Tablets

Wild Amla Glycerite Drops


Zinc is an essential trace mineral.  It has been shown to improve immunity and even help Coronavirus although there is no data to support any effect against Covid-19.  Oral Zinc can be difficult to digest. We offer it as a Zinc Herbal Glycerite to be added to spring water and sipped during the day.


Tulsi is called Holy Basil.  Tulsi has been demonstrated to be an immune modulator.  It has long been used in Ayurveda to support Lung immunity.  We have both Tulsi Herb and Tulsi Transdermal Cream and a powerful traditional formula called Tribindu with Tulsi Spray.  Tribindu is very effective for opening the sinuses and respiratory channels.  With the addition of Tulsi, it also supports respiratory immunity.


Kantakari has long been used in Ayurveda for improving respiratory function.  It has been shown to be a bronchial dilator.

Treatment with either S. xanthocarpum or S. trilobatum significantly improved the various parameters of pulmonary function in asthmatic subject.  Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 66, Issue 2, August 1999, Pages 205-210

We have Kantakari as a wonderful tasting Kantakari Cough Syrup that is mixed with warm water and sipped.

We also have a more powerful Kantkari Plus Glycerite which can be added to spring water and sipped.


Neem leaf has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant effects.  It’s a powerful immune modulator and aid to the lungs. 

Treatment with NLE significantly attenuated the infiltration of inflammatory cells, such as neutrophils and macrophages in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). These findings thus suggest that NLE has potential for use in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Protective effects of neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.) leaf extract against cigarette smoke- and lipopolysaccharide-induced pulmonary inflammation. Int J Mol Med. 2017 Dec;40(6):1932-1940. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2017.3178. Epub 2017 Oct 10.

 We have both Neem Leaf Herb and Neem Leaf Glycerite Drops.

Sinus & Lung Herbal Kit with Vidanga Oil 

This is a very effective treatment for sinus congestion, sinusitis and lung congestion.  There are 3 components. 

Sinus Steam Infusion Herbal Mix

Vidanga Nasal / Sinus Oil 1 oz

Respiratory Support Transdermal Cream


1. Apply Respiratory Support cream to the sides of the neck in front and back of the large muscle that extends from behind the ear to the front of the collar bone. Swipe downwards 7 times. Apply in front of the ears, along the sides of the nose and above the eyebrows. 

2. In a pot of water place 1/4 tsp of sinus herbs and 3 drops of Vidanga sinus oil. Boil the water. Remove from the heat and place the pot on a level surface. Breathe the steam from the pot with a towel over you head for 10 to 15 minutes.

If you would like to have an consultation with me to determine your own individual health protocol, then set up an Ayurvedic Phone Consultation

Make your appointment online by clicking the link or call us at 301-951-9000.

To Your Health,

Dr. Douglas Beech