Keeping our respiratory system strong is of paramount importance, especially during this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 outbreak. I was inspired to write this blog since recently witnessing yellow clouds of pollen morph past me in various permutations. While a little early, the arrival of the pollen is not unexpected. What bears some consideration is how we can ensure that our airways, which often get irritated during pollen season, are kept clean and strong in order to maintain resilience to the virus that has us all concerned.
Firstly, we must control our exposure to pollen. Specific examples include:
- Wearing wrap around sunglasses to protect eyes
- Keeping windows closed to reduce outdoor irritants
- Washing hair and changing clothes as soon as you come home from spending time outdoors
- Staying indoors during the days when pollen count is at its highest
- Wearing a mask when outdoors, for those that are particularly sensitive to pollen
Once we have done the best we can in keeping the springtime offenders at bay, we can look to support our respiratory health through herbs, food and lifestyle behaviors.
- Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) essential oil supports respiratory health through inhalation by breaking down or reducing microbial contamination of the airways (Amini, Rezaei, & Yazdannik, 2016).
- TIP: To make a eucalyptus inhalant, add a few drops of pure eucalyptus oil or a handful of leaves to hot water or a vaporizer and deeply inhale the steam vapor for five to 10 minutes (take care not to burn yourself).
- Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a demulcent herb, soothing irritated mucous membranes, and is helpful against respiratory infections; use as a tea to help support the respiratory system (avoid if you have high blood pressure, edema or are currently taking any medications such as glucocorticoids, anti-hypertensives, beta-blockers)
- Tip: Try Bronchial Wellness tea from Gaia Herbs to capture the benefits of both eucalyptus and licorice in a delicious tasting tea
- Stinging Nettle has decongestant properties, opening airways and clearing the lungs as well as helping decrease inflammation.
- Tip: Infuse 1 ounce of nettle leaf in 32 oz of just boiled water for 4-8 hours. Otherwise Traditional Medicinals makes a nice tea the requires minimal work!
- Onions are high in quercetin, a flavonoid that is thought to help relax airway muscles (Townsend & Emala, 2013)
- Consider quelling systemic inflammation from allergies by increasing your intake of healthy Omega-3’s either through supplementation or foods that include cold water fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts
- Consume caffeine! Caffeine is considered a bronchodilator, opening airways specifically in asthmatic individuals (Gong et al., 1986)
- Sipping hot water or other hot liquids throughout the day to keep your throat moist and help with circulation
- Saline nasal rinses or neti-pots help soothe inflamed nasal passages and/or rinse away allergens
- Maintaining lymphatic health has been shown to positively influence respiratory health.
- Tip: Movement, dry skin brushing, and lymphatic drainage massage are just a few key steps to take in order to promote health
- Focus on breathing through the nose to help keep bronchial tubes and lungs moist
- Stop Smoking!!!
These are just some simple steps to consider implementing in order to maintain a healthy respiratory system for anytime of the year, but particularly now in the face of this Coronavirus that attacks our respiratory system. Be well, Be Proactive!
Gong Jr, H., Simmons, M. S., Tashkin, D. P., Hui, K. K., & Lee, E. Y. (1986). Bronchodilator effects of caffeine in coffee: a dose-response study of asthmatic subjects. Chest, 89(3), 335-342.
Amini, N., Rezaei, K., & Yazdannik, A. (2016). Effect of nebulized eucalyptus on contamination of microbial plaque of endotracheal tube in ventilated patients. Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research, 21(2), 165.
Townsend, E. A., & Emala Sr, C. W. (2013). Quercetin acutely relaxes airway smooth muscle and potentiates β-agonist-induced relaxation via dual phosphodiesterase inhibition of PLCβ and PDE4. American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, 305(5), L396-L403.
As a Clinical Nutritionist, I am not providing health care, medical or nutritional therapy services, or attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any physical, mental or emotional issue, disease or condition. The information provided pertaining to your health or wellness, exercise, relationships, business/career choices, finances, or any other aspect of your life is not intended to be a substitute for the professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by your own Medical Provider or Mental Health Provider. Always seek the advice of your own Medical Provider and/or Mental Health Provider regarding any questions or concerns you have about your specific health or any medications, herbs or supplements you are currently taking and before implementing any recommendations or suggestions from Intuitas Integrative Wellness. Do not disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical advice because of information you have received. Do not start or stop taking any medications without speaking to your own Medical Provider or Mental Health Provider.