As wildfire risk grows, so does hazardous air quality. Some Northern California communities are exposed to between sixty and ninety wildfire smoke days per year now. Most of us have been exposed to smoke particles that can cause lung damage and symptoms like eye irritation, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and headaches. These toxins can build up over time with repeated exposures.
Our bodies are designed to eliminate toxins through the skin, lungs, kidneys, bowels, and liver. Here are a few tips to help you detox after smoke exposure and protect your yourself from long-term damage:
1.Hydrotherapy is the use of water or sauna to stimulate excretion of toxins and maintain health. A great way to do this at home is alternating hot with cold water in the shower. Start with hot, flash with cold water. Repeat up to three times.
2.Dry brushing is another great way to stimulate our lymph flow through the skin. Our lymphatic system helps move trash and waste out of the tissues. Use any stiff bristled brush on the skin, and always brush towards the heart.
3.Take a hot bath with two cups of Epsom salts and ten drops of lung-clearing essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus, or thyme. Stay in until you break a sweat.
4.Drink a hot lung-supportive tea. Herbs like mullein, licorice, ginger, and nettles can soothe lung tissue, reduce inflammation, relax and moisten lung tissues. Green and black teas are also helpful to relax respiratory muscles.
5.Rinse your nasal passages with a saline solution in a neti pot. This will help rinse the residue out the nose and prevent those tiny, worrisome particles from moving into the lungs. It can also reduce nasal inflammation, congestion, and drainage.
6.Steam inhalation is relatively easy to do in the shower. Try adding a few drops of essential oils to a small bowl and place on the floor of the shower to create steam. Take nice, deep breaths. Another option is to add five to ten drops of essential oils to a large bowl of very hot water, loosely cover your head with a towel, and breathe deeply for a few minutes. Great lung-clearing essential oils are peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, thyme, rosemary, cinnamon, geranium, and oregano.
7.Buy an air purifier. There are numerous high quality portable air purifiers available now. Pay attention to how many square feet each filter covers, as you may need more than one for your house.
8.Drink more water. A great goal is two to three liters daily or eight to ten eight-ounce glasses per day. If you are detoxing, though, you may want to ramp this up to twelve or fourteen glasses to help flush your body systems.
9.Eat a healthy diet with extra fiber and a variety of colorful vegetables. Fiber can help bind toxins in the stool and encourage daily elimination. You can add in high-fiber foods like chia seeds, oats, lentils, and legumes, or add in a fiber supplement like psyllium husk powder. Colorful vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants that squelch free radicals and prevent damage to cells in the body.
10.Support your liver. It is working hard during times like these! Avoid excess alcohol. Eat more broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale to support healthy glutathione production and keep the liver’s detox pathways working properly. Leafy green vegetables are high in chlorophyll and bind up toxins from the bloodstream. Artichoke, dandelion greens, bitters, and lemon can stimulate bile flow which helps move toxins out of the body, as well. Two to three daily cups of green tea boosts phase one and phase two liver detoxification processes, acts as an antioxidant, and is a cancer preventative. Sencha is a great low-caffeine option.
11.Consider supplementation. Some of my favorite immune and detox-supporting medicines are NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine), turmeric (curcumin), vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, milk thistle, parsley, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), and glutathione. Not all supplements are safe to combine with medications or other treatments, so please ask your doctor before starting a new supplement or herb.
La Deana Jeane, ND, FABNO
IHAN Naturopathic Ambassador