14 Nov Lung Support Amidst the LA Fires
image credit: phys.org
LA is ablaze and even if you’re not local, I’m sure your heart is feeling the heat.
Please keep everyone—people, animals, firefighters and our planet—in your prayers.
It’s truly heartbreaking to see the coverage. 💔
I’m in OC where dryness has zapped the air and moisture is consequentially leaving our bodies, concentrating the impact of poor air quality on our lungs.
According to TCM, the fall season corresponds with the Metal element, which has an affinity to the lungs (and large intestine) and is a time when the wind can create the most damage. That’s why it’s especially important to be mindful of our respiratory health now. I have a blogpost reflecting on this (read here) but for now, here are some tips for the delicate yet mighty pair that breathe in life ~ our lungs. Let’s give them some additional TLC.
Magnesium is critical for many body functions including relaxing bronchial smooth-muscle contraction. So many of us are already deficient due to a slew of issues (ahem *stress* *pollution*…*life*) but for now, try to up your Mg levels with any of the following:
✿ Magnesium ‘oil’ on the soles of the feet before sleep
✿ Magnesium supplements ~ there are many kinds. Stick with magnesium glycinate if you tend to get loose stools with magnesium supplements since it’s gentlest on the stomach. Chelated options work well too.
✿ Eat magnesium rich foods such as leafy greens, figs, avocado, some nuts and seeds, artichokes, asparagus, brussels sprouts, fatty fish, chlorella powder, and dark chocolate (there’s our excuse for cacao bliss 😊.)
✿ Epsom salt baths. 10-15 minute soaks 1-3x/week. You may want to end the warm soak with a cold rinse to up your glutathione levels. Speaking of which…
This is a powerful in-house antioxidant that can protect our cell membranes from oxidative damage, which of course, can come about from air pollution.
✿ Let’s get supplementation out of the way. Most supplements out there are not a good idea since the body’s absorption is quite slim. Unless you’re taking a precursor like N-acetyl cysteine or α-Lipoic Acid, liposomal or IV forms are best supplementation wise.
✿ Cold showers. As uncomfortable as this may seem, it’s actually very good for the body and you don’t need more than 30 seconds under a cold stream of water to reap some pretty amazing benefits—one of which is a spike in the body’s innate glutathione production without the need to take in anything else. I dare you to try it.
✿ Eat sulfur rich foods such as cruciferous vegetables (like brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, watercress and mustard greens) and allium vegetables (like garlic, shallots and onions).
✿ Vitamin C scours free radicals thereby sparing glutathione. Some great food sources include: strawberries, citrus fruits, papayas, kiwis and bell peppers. My go-to supplement form is liposome-encapsulated for better absorption. I think this much better than sugar-filled packets at the drugstore.
✿ Selenium is a cofactor needed for glutathione production. If you’re not a fan of organ meats (liver is a great source), opt for brazil nuts. Just 2-3 a day will do the trick in meeting your RDA (200mg.)
✿ Even though dietary glutathione levels may not absorb in the body too well, it’s still worth consuming these foods. Foods that are naturally rich in glutathione include: okra, spinach, chard, avocados, and asparagus.
✿ Herbal actives. The active ingredient in milk thistle extract, silymarin (which is really 3 active compounds) helps to boost our glutathione production. Curcumin (from turmeric) does this as well. Let’s not leave out resveratrol too (found in the skin of grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and mulberries).
✿ Sleep. It’s one of the most rejuvenating things you can do for your body. Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease glutathione levels.
LUNG POWER HERBS
There are so many but here are a few of my top picks at this time. A full blog post can be written about each one but I’ll keep it super simple. Explore each herb individually depending on what resonates. There’s so much wisdom to gather about each one and the synergy between them.
✿ Drink teas and/or extracts with: Mullein, Nettle leaf, Plantain, Licorice, Lungwort, Lobelia, Sage, Slippery Elm, Marshmallow root, Feverfew, and/or good old Peppermint.
✿ Cordyceps deserves a line of it’s own. This is an incredibly powerful adaptogenic fungus that’s widely used in TCM for respiratory health and stamina. Just ask the Chinese olympic team how great this herb worked for them when they were suspected of using steroids during their success but, of course, tested negative. It’s much easier to get this herb nowadays. I like to add it to my coffee via @FourSigmatic or @SunPotion
✿ Steam inhalation: Simmer some dried thyme and/or rosemary with lavender buds in a pot and breathe in the steam. You can also cover your head in a towel canopy to really concentrate the effect. Just be careful as this can get hot.
✿ Here’s a simple tea recipe I’m brewing nowadays for soothing and moistening the airways:
1 tsp of each: Slippery Elm, Marshmallow root
3 thin slices of fresh ginger
16 oz of water
Simmer the above for 5 mins. Allow to steep for an additional 5 mins. Optionally swirl in honey.
✿ While we’re talking-herbs, I’ll dedicate a separate section to a powerful topical: Mustard Seed Plaster. (below)
This is a loaded word but let’s keep it simple here.
✿ Dry brush your skin in the AM (always up towards the heart).
✿ Use an infrared sauna if you have access to one.
✿ Stay hydrated. Drink your minerals if needed to super-charge your absorption. I like Liquid Light from Sun Warrior or as good Sole recipe (good quality sea salt saturated in water).
✿ Use a saline nasal spay. For kids, I like XClear with xylitol since it also helps to slip off pathogenic microbes that can cling and infect the sinuses.
✿ Rinse your sinuses with a neti pot–preferably salted.
✿ Indoor plants. There are a variety if beautiful house plants that can purify the air of volatile organic compounds and increase the available clean oxygen in your space. My favorites (and easiest to maintain) are: English Ivy. Chinese Evergreen. Pot Mum. Peace Lily. Spider Plant. (any) Pathos. Snake Plant.
✿ Look into HEPA filters for home-use if you haven’t already.
✿ A note of breathing: Be sure to exhale as deeply as you inhale. We often breathe in shallowly but also barely let our breaths out. Set aside some moments for mindful breathing. Pause in between breaths and allow full long exhales out. Your lungs will thank you. Box-Breathing is worth looking into.
✿ Absolutely avoid irritating ingredients that hide in labels and aggravate the lungs (+ the rest of the body, really.) These include artificial colors–especially Yellow No. 5 and Red No. 2/40, vanillin, monosodium glutamate, BHT-BHA, benzoates, annatto, and benzaldehyde.
✿ Reduce/remove sugar intake and inflammatory processed oils like soybean, canola, vegetable, etc. I prefer: avocado oil, coconut oil, grassfed ghee/butter, and macadamia nut oil.
✿ Allow your digestion to rest by stopping meals about 3 hours before bedtime and wait at least an hour or so upon waking to have your first meal. The bare minimum is to allow 12 hours between your last and first meal. 16 hours works great too. Fasting truly does a body good when done right.
MUSTARD SEED PLASTER
If you’re already dealing with terrible viscous congestion that’s led to forceful and irritating coughs, this is for you.
Mustard is a powerful herb that warms the chest and facilitates circulation. It also encourages the expectoration of trapped mucus.
This has been used traditionally for years. Grandma would be proud to see you bringing this practice back to life, I think (:
Beware that mustard truly is a hot herb so if you have sensitive skin, please use less mustard seed powder and up the amount of flour.
It’s normal for the skin to get red and for you to experience a slight sweat. Repeat 1x/day for 3-5 days.
△ 1 tbsp Mustard Seed Powder
△ 4 tbsp chickpea flour (or more for sensitive skin)
△ Enough warm water to form a paste
△ 1 tsp coconut oil
△ Thin cotton cloth
△ Mix the mustard powder, chickpea flour, and warm water together to form a paste. Pancake batter consistency is best.
△ Spread the paste on the cotton cloth. Apply some coconut oil on your chest. Then place the paster (cloth side on your skin for added protection) on your skin.
△ You can apply another cloth over the exposed plaster and wrap around your body if you plan on being mobile. Otherwise, simply rest for 20 minutes and allow the heat to seep in. Remove and wipe with a lukewarm water. Repeat 1x/day for 3-5 days.
△ I may show this in IG stories as well so if you’re not already, follow me @drsebaa.
✿ Also, get yourself a humidifier and keep the air moist for added comfort.
Be well & breathe well ~
P.S. Even if you aren’t directly affected by the fires, hopefully these tips will still help you breathe a little better. This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means and the nature of general posts is to keep the suggestions general but hopefully the it’ll spark some interest and support.