The wildfires in California, Oregon, and Colorado are a major concern for all of us. My heart goes out to those being evacuated out of their homes, and I a great deal of gratitude to the brave firefighters working through the night to manage the flames.
The smoke and ash can be seen and smelled many miles from the fires and a great deal of the country is currently experiencing unhealthful air quality as a result.
During this time of poor air quality, it is important to be preventative about lung damage, especially for those with allergies, asthma, and pre-existing respiratory disease.
Wildfire smoke is a combination of particles and gases, both of which can cause irritation and damage to sensitive mucosa in the lungs. The damage occurs via oxidative stress, so eating nutritious food and taking antioxidant supplements can counter the negative effects.
Here’s a quick list of tips that can be helpful while the air is polluted by smoke. It is likely you have some or all of these in your home pharmacy or pantry…
Whenever the body is under stress it requires extra vitamins and minerals. This is an important time to choose high-quality whole foods. Nutrient-dense foods such as brightly colored fruits and vegetables will provide a mixture of natural antioxidants. Foods containing flavonoids have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory features that may provide additional lung protection. These foods include strawberries, green tea, black tea, brussels sprouts, beans, onions, and apples. When in doubt, eat a rainbow!
Vitamin C: Smoke causes inflammation via oxidative damage, so antioxidants will be very helpful during this time. One of our best antioxidants is Vitamin C. You can increase your dose up to bowel tolerance (too much will cause loose stools).
Vitamin D3: Supporting the immune system with vitamin D is especially important when dealing with smoke inhalation, especially those who have been diagnosed with a deficiency.
Glutathione: Liposomal glutathione can detoxify acetaldehyde and other toxins found in smoke and has great potential benefit in preventing damage from smoke inhalation.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): is a precursor to glutathione and can be used if glutathione is not available as a supplement. NAC is a powerful mucolytic, breaking down and eliminating accumulated mucus from the lungs. In addition to facilitating breathing, toxins, and germs threatening the lungs are also removed. People with various lung disorders such as bronchitis, asthma, and emphysema may greatly benefit from NAC.
Selenium: As an antioxidant, selenium helps fight free radical damage and moderates cellular oxidative stress.
Click here to access my entire smoke inhalation protocol, complete with dosages, product names, and the ability to purchase at a discount through my online pharmacy. New members will need to create a free account, then you will be directed to this protocol.
When smoke is present, remain indoors, close all windows and minimize the duration and intensity of outdoor activities.
Use an N95 particulate mask respirator when outside for an extended period of time, especially if you have cardio-pulmonary problems. Cloth masks and surgical masks will not keep the harmful chemical out. N95 masks are in short supply due to the pandemic, so you can also use an R95 mask like this one.
Filter your indoor air. My favorite air filtration system is Air Doctor, but any HEPA filter or even air conditioners with filters and recirculating air can help cut down on particulate matter in the air indoors. Do NOT use an air conditioner if it does not have air filters or it will only suck in smoke and make breathing conditions worse. Click here to save $300 on an Air Doctor.
Use eyewash to rinse irritated eyes. You may be able to find a herbal eyewash at your local wholefood store or you can make your own. Calendula (marigold), Hydrastis (goldenseal), Chamomile, and Euphrasia (eyebright) are all wonderfully soothing herbs for irritated eyes. Make an infusion by adding a handful of one or more of these herbs, fresh or dried, to a pint of freshly boiled distilled water. Cover and let it steep until cool, then strain it carefully until the infusion is quite clear.
Stay hydrated. This will help flush toxins from your system.
Incorporate healing herbs: Green tea, ginger, and turmeric can be highly effective in inhibiting the activation of carcinogens in environmental smoke. Use in cooking or as a tea.
Foods such as strawberries, cherries, blueberries, beets, citrus fruits, leafy greens, pineapples, artichokes, onions, olives, fatty fish, dark chocolate, and elderberries are all loaded with antioxidants that can help lower inflammation.
Vitamin C, Selenium, Vitamin D3, and Glutathione can also help with damage caused by smoke inhalation. Additionally, adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha, Rhodiola, holy basil, and reishi are all helpful.
If you’re looking for a way to incorporate some of these healing foods and herbs, I’ve got a great smoothie recipe for you!
GLOW Anti-inflammatory Smoothie
1/4 cup Frozen Cherries
1/4 cup Frozen Strawberries
1/4 cup Frozen Pineapple
1/2 cup Beets (steamed/cooked)
1/4 inch Raw Ginger Root
1/4 inch Turmeric Root
1/2 cup Green Tea
Adaptogenic Herb Capsule or Powder (if using capsule, open capsule and put contents in blender with the rest of the ingredients)
Add all ingredients to blender. Add about 1 cup liquid (you can use water, your milk of choice, more green tea or a combo of these) and blend thoroughly. Add more or less liquid to achieve desired consistency.
For even more of a nutritional punch, you could add collagen peptides, hemp seeds, chia seeds, chlorella or spirulina powder.
Food can be powerful in helping you heal, but overall, be especially conscious of breathing conditions for children, pregnant women, elderly and those with pre-existing heart or lung problems.
And most importantly, tell yourself – out loud if you need to – that your body was made to heal. It’s going to do everything it can to clear these particulates. You just want to do as much as you can to support its efforts.