Respiratory System Support
With the prevalence of bush and wildfires occurring worldwide, comes a lot of smoke and debris in the air which when inhaled, is a serious health concern.
Inhaling the smoke can exacerbate asthma and heart disease, as well as cause respiratory irritation and shortness of breath. Coughing, bronchial spasms, dry and burnings eyes, scratchy throat, sinus irritation, sneezing or runny nose, headaches, are just some of the symptoms of smoke exposure.
People most affected by bush fire smoke are those with chronic respiratory conditions (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary hypertension) and other chronic diseases, seasonal allergies, the elderly, children and pregnant women.
However, when the air quality is poor and toxic, everyone is at risk for experiencing these issues.
If you’ve been affected by smoke inhalation or poor air quality, now is an important time to support your lung health.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the respiratory system is very important. The respiratory system is the intricate network of channels that carry Prana or ‘energy/the life force’, and oxygen in the body.
The respiratory system is also our first line of defence from allergens – like smoke, as well as viruses and bacteria. As this area receives the prana and oxygen that we breathe in through our nose and mouth, is usually the first part of our body to be impacted by these external factors.
When your Prana is strong, you feel vibrant, energetic. On the other hand, when the quality of the air is poor and we breathe in allergies and toxins from smoke or from living in a polluted city, it puts the body under a lot of strain and can quickly deplete or prana and our immunity.
In Ayurveda, the lungs are a site of Kapha dosha. Dry, hot, irritating air can dry out and inflame this area so to heal, we require soothing, nourishing, lubricating qualities to support Kapha.
Here are some clinically validated supports to protect and soothe respiratory health:
Herbal Respiratory Support
- Tulsi: a potent antioxidant with an affiliation for the respiratory system. This will counter the toxic effects of the polluted air.
- Marshmallow root: An excellent ‘demulcent’ meaning that it is soothing and protects the mucous membrane of the respiratory system. (note: this can increase blood pressure when taken at high doses.)
- Mullein: It acts by reducing the formation of mucus and stimulating the coughing up of phlegm
- Elecampane: restores the lungs by healing damaged lung linings.
- Golden Seal: clears mucous, soothes the mucosal lining
- Thyme: a wonderful antiseptic to the lungs
- Turmeric: anti-inflammatory and antioxidant for protective effects
- Vasa (Adhatoda): It is used to support clear, comfortable breathing and promotes healthy bronchodilation
- Liquorice Root: anti-inflammatory, soothing, protective to the respiratory system, clears mucous (note: this can increase blood pressure when taken at high doses)
You can take these herbs as an infusion, tea or see a practitioner for herbal tincture or powders. For herbal teas, you can take up to 6 cups per day.
- Ayurvedic Nasya Oil: twice daily for sinus protection. Nasya lubricates the nasal passages and supports uncongested breathing
- Triphala or Eyebright eyewash to soothe irritated eyes
Nutritional Lung Support
- Vitamin C: provides great antioxidant protection from smoke. Take as a supplement or include more high vitamin C foods into the diet.
- Ghee: To counter the dry heat in the air affecting the mucosal tissues of the body
Author: Tegan Wallis
Tegan is a Naturopath, Ayurveda Health Consultant and Yoga Teacher.