A Natural Remedy For COPD and Asthma: Beet | Sepalika
blog detail banner

Living Well

A Natural Remedy For COPD And Asthma: Beet

Oct 7, 2016

If you have been experiencing shortness of breath and frequent cough attacks lasting more than a few weeks, chances are that you might be suffering from either Asthma or COPD.

Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are common respiratory disorders. Symptoms include:

  • Tightness in the chest
  • Prolonged, sudden bouts of coughing (with mucus)
  • Wheezing
  • Frequent breathlessness

While asthma affects only the airways in the lungs, COPD blocks both the upper airways as well as the lung tissue with mucus and is a progressive condition. Asthma affects even children, but COPD is found only among adults aged 40 and above.

COPD is a common result of chronic smoking, while asthma occurs due to a hyper-reactive immune system to common triggers like dust, smoke, etc.

How Do These Diseases Affect Lung Capacity?

The symptoms of asthma and COPD are experienced due to reduced lung capacity. In asthma, the airways become inflamed and the volume for air flow during exhalation is diminished, producing telltale symptoms like wheezing and breathlessness.

COPD is more aggressive than asthma; it inflames the air sacs, makes them lose their elasticity and get clogged with mucus. This produces the classic symptom of gradually worsening shortness of breath over the years.

In both the conditions, the surface area available within the lung for blood-gas exchange i.e. absorption of oxygen and release of carbon dioxide is drastically compromised. As a result, people suffering from these respiratory disorders are unable to enjoy strenuous sports or aerobic activities and tend to get fatigued easily.

Beet And Asthma: What’s The Connection?

A Natural Remedy For COPD And Asthma: Beet

A Natural Remedy For COPD And Asthma: Beet

The maroon beet is a commonly available vegetable that is often sought after for its anaemia and diabetes-fighting capabilities. It is well-established that the nitrate-rich beet juice also helps in stabilising blood flow.

Various studies now also point to the potential use of beet juice as an aid for symptoms of COPD and asthma. Research on COPD patients has shown how a daily dietary intake of nitrate via beet juice helped COPD sufferers exercise for longer durations in comparison to a placebo group that did not receive the nitrate supplementation.

You need more oxygen during exercise. This need can be “tempered” by nitrates in the blood. That’s one way the nitrate-rich beet helps. COPD patients in the study experienced not only enhanced exercising capacity but also showed lower systolic blood pressure readings. As one of the natural remedies for COPD, beet makes for a fabulous pick.

Consumption of as little as 500ml of beet juice per day can improve the lifestyle and functioning of COPD adults and allow them to feel more energised and active. This can reduce the exhaustion rate by nearly 15%.

Who Is Beet Good For?

Numerous studies showed a positive effect of beet on increasing exercise tolerance and lung capacity in COPD patients. When drinking beet juice, it is common to have a few red bowel movements as well as find some red or pink colour in your urine. This is not blood, just the beet pigments passing out via the urine. Do not let this discourage you drinking beet juice since does not cause any known major side effects and can be consumed by almost everyone. The one group of people who should avoid beet juice supplementation are those who have a tendency to form kidney stones. Since beets are high in iron content, anyone with a genetic trait of too much iron (hemochromatosis) should be careful about supplementation too.

It is advisable to start with 250 ml of beet juice and then gradually scale up to 500 ml each day.

If you are already taking iron supplements, ensure you consult your doctor before having larger quantities of beet for respiratory enhancement. That’s about it. You have the information, now go ahead and “beet” your breathlessness.

 Dr. Rachita Narsaria
Dr. Rachita is a practising doctor with a passion for prose. With over 6 years of medical writing experience for patients and doctors alike, this doctor-cum-entrepreneur loves learning and sharing knowledge.


  1. Asthma Information | Causes, Symptoms & Treatment | ACAAI. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://acaai.org/asthma/about
  2. Berry, M. J., Justus, N. W., Hauser, J. I., Case, A. H., Helms, C. C., Basu, S., … Miller, G. D. (2015). Dietary nitrate supplementation improves exercise performance and decreases blood pressure in COPD patients. Nitric Oxide48, 22-30. doi:10.1016/j.niox.2014.10.007
  3. Kerley, C. P., Cahill, K., Bolger, K., McGowan, A., Burke, C., Faul, J., & Cormican, L. (2015). Dietary nitrate supplementation in COPD: An acute, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover trial☆. Nitric Oxide44, 105-111. doi:10.1016/j.niox.2014.12.010
  4. Lansley, K. E., Winyard, P. G., Fulford, J., Vanhatalo, A., Bailey, S. J., Blackwell, J. R., … Jones, A. M. (2010). Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of walking and running: a placebo-controlled study. Journal of Applied Physiology110(3), 591-600. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01070.2010
  5. Shepherd, A. I., Wilkerson, D. P., Dobson, L., Kelly, J., Winyard, P. G., Jones, A. M., … Gilchrist, M. (2015). The effect of dietary nitrate supplementation on the oxygen cost of cycling, walking performance and resting blood pressure in individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A double-blind placebo-controlled, randomised control trial. Nitric Oxide48, 31-37. doi:10.1016/j.niox.2015.01.002
  6. What Is COPD? – NHLBI, NIH. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd