By Pam Sauers
Licensed Acupuncturist, Revolutionary Yoga Instructor
Our lungs are really taking a hit lately with all the smoke and toxins released from the fires. Unfortunately, because we can’t see these microscopic particles, we are much less aware of the damage they are causing, not only to our nasal passages, throat and lungs but to our entire system.
In Chinese Medicine, the lungs are associated with grief and sadness, which many of us have experienced recently in response to the turmoil going on in our world. Self care is of utmost importance and truly our best defense right now.
So, in addition to getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, meditation, yoga, breath work and acupuncture treatments to help destress and boost your immune system, here are a few simple things you might try at home to help support your overall health and wellbeing.
Irrigate sinuses with a saline solution, using a neti pot or bulb syringe to clear debris from nasal passages and limit what gets in to your lungs and ultimately into your bloodstream, organs and tissues.
After being outside, rinse then lubricate nasal passages with olive, coconut or sesame oil (non roasted). (Dip a clean q-tip in to the oil and run around the inner rim of your nostrils).
Steam inhalation: Add a few drops of essential oil (such as Eucalyptus or Lavender) or a few sprigs of Thyme or Rosemary to a bowl of very hot water. Place a towel over your head and breathe in deeply for several minutes. This will help clear your sinuses.
Use an herbal eyewash to soothe irritated eyes. You can find them at many local food and drug stores. They often include: Calendula, Goldenseal, Chamomile, and Eyebright. Or make a cup of Chamomile tea for yourself, take out the tea bag and let it cool, then rub gently over your eyes. You can squeeze a bit into your eyes as First Aid in situations when immediate eye care may be necessary.
Increase water intake to reduce scratchy throat, coughing and dry nasal passages. Hydration is so important in dry, hot, smokey conditions and may also help keep sinus headaches at bay. Add some electrolytes like coconut water or make some lemonade with a pinch of salt to help hydrate your cells.
Increase intake of anti-inflammatory foods: garlic, turmeric, ginger, green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, sweet potatoes, fatty fish like wild salmon, dulce, sauerkraut, nuts, berries, cherries, beets and pineapple.
Increase intake of high anti-oxidant foods: Antioxidants are compounds that may help delay or even prevent cell damage in the body. Many anti-inflammatory foods are also rich in anti-oxidants. Some additional options include goji berries, elderberries, pecans, artichokes, purple cabbage, kidney and other beans, purple and red grapes and dark chocolate.
Supplemental anti-oxidants: N-acetylcysteine (NAC). NAC plays an important role in your body’s detoxification process and can help prevent side effects due to environmental toxins. NAC is needed to make and replenish glutathione, which is one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants. It helps neutralize free radicals that can damage cells and tissues in your body. Supplementing your body’s natural production of glutathione may aid in clearing out the debris and help support chronic respiratory conditions and brain health.
Herbal Respiratory Support: For dry, scratchy throat or lungs try Marshmallow root, Yerba santa, Mullein, Licorice or Throat Coat Tea. *(avoid licorice if you are pregnant or have high blood pressure).
Drink Tea: Green tea is a super power with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits. Raspberry, Chamomile and Peppermint teas help relieve pain and decrease inflammation. Throat Coat and Marshmallow Root teas are natural lubricants due to a gelatin-like substance known as mucilage, which coats and soothes the throat. Nettle tea has a calming action with stress-reliving benefits and is also a natural antihistamine that helps calm over sensitive airways and soothe inflamed tissue. Milk thistle is one of the most well-known liver and kidney herbs and is an ingredient in many detox teas. It is also available in capsule form.
Consider Herbal Adaptogens such as Ashwaghanda, Eleuthero root, Rhodiola rosea, Holy basil (Tulsi), Schisandra berries and others which support the body’s natural ability to deal with stress. Nervines are herbs that specifically help support the nervous system. This category includes tonics like organic Skullcap and Oat tops, mildly calming herbs like Catnip, Chamomile, Lemon balm and Passionflower as well as stronger relaxants like Valerian root, Kava kava and Hops.
Medicinal Mushrooms: Reishi has anti-inflammatory as well as stress modulating effects. Cordyceps improves oxygen efficiency and may enhance respiratory function when inflammation is present.
Please contact your healthcare provider if you experience any unusual symptoms and before beginning any herbal supplementation.
If you would like to schedule an appointment, an herbal consult, or have further questions please contact Pam at 831-247-2527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pamela Sauers, LAc, is a licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist at Core Essence Acupuncture and Wellness in Santa Rosa and teaches yoga at Revolution Yoga in Rincon Valley.