(or at least increased inflammation)...
While my heart goes out to all those in Canada who have lost land and homes due to the wildfires, my lungs are feeling the effects of that smoke all these thousands of miles away. Wildfires on this scale are hard to comprehend—tens of thousands of acres of trees, plants, and to a smaller extent, buildings, transformed to ash and smoke! Add to that our local “dust-maker”, (the construction project for Blue Oval just south of Elizabethtown), and this summer is more reminiscent of my days in California than a typical hot and humid Kentucky summer. So if you notice more irritation in your lungs than usual, sinuses that are more inflamed, and marvel at the spectacular sunsets we are having—you are experiencing the good, the bad, and the ugly of this summer’s skies.
So what can you do to protect your lungs? For one, watch the air quality index and when possible, limit your exposure to outside on days when it’s poor. If you have to be outside, try to avoid physical exertion, and when you come back in use a nasal rinse like Xlear or Nasopure to help flush the particles from your nasal passages. When you do get in cleaner air, that’s the time to get the respiration up to help flush out the lungs.
For those who have asthma or COPD, this type of environment is particularly challenging. Acupuncture and herbs can help reduce inflammation, improve lung function, and help you get through this challenging time with more ease. Limiting inflammatory foods like dairy, meat, sugar, alcohol, and processed foods will also help. See our handout, “Breath of Life - Nurturing Healthy Lungs” for a list of foods and teas that are particularly helpful for lung health and incorporate poached pears or our watermelon peel salad into your summer menus.
At home, check your air filters, and make sure you are changing your house filters regularly. If you have a higher sensitivity, consider adding air purifiers to the rooms you use most, especially your bedroom. In addition to lung-healthy herbs, formulas like “Breathmooth” provide soothing relief for tight lungs and AllerEase Jr. can help calm sinus inflammation. D-Hist is always a favorite among patients for those who need a natural antihistamine action. As always, our herbal consults are available to help ensure those who take prescription medications use only herbs and supplements that are safe with those prescriptions.