For much of the west coast, wildfire smoke inhalation was unavoidable. This was especially true in the Santa Rosa area, where the wind-fueled blazes destroyed over 1,500 structures, burns acres of land and consuming everything in their paths.
Detoxing after smoke exposure is essential to your long-term and short term health. Detox solutions can include:
- Drinking LOTS of Water
- Drinking Hot Liquids
- Using a Saline Nasal Spray
- Rinsing Your Sinuses with a Neti Pot
- Breathing in Steam with Thyme
- Receiving a Vitamin Rich IV Drip
- Loading Your Diet with Ginger
- Increasing Your Vitamin C Intake
- Upping Your Glutathione Levels
We were all encouraged to stay indoors. Some heeded these warnings. Some individuals fled to less smoky environments. And, some folks attempted to cover their faces with a cloths or mask. Unfortunately, if you were here when the fires began, you were most likely exposed.
The concern with the exposure isn’t so much getting a large fleck of ash in your eye. Yes, smoke exposure can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like irritated sinuses, eye irritation, and shortness of breath. However, the real concern is the fine particles.
Jane Greenhalgh explained in her recent NPR article, ‘Is All That Wildfire Smoke Damaging My Lungs?’ it’s the, “particulate matter that's 2.5 microns or less in diameter — that are the biggest health hazard. They're so small you can't see them.”
Get a more details about how these nine tips can help you detox and protect your lung from long-term damage.
9 Ways to Detox Your Lungs After Wildfire Smoke Inhalation
1. Water. Drink LOTS of Water
Drink water. Drink LOTS of water. This is not a new mantra. It’s not a revolutionary tip. You’ve probably heard it hundreds of times before. Unfortunately, the vast majority of individuals are dehydrated. This is particularly an issue when you’re trying to detox after the harmful effects of fire.
Wildfire smoke inhalation causes microscopic particles to get trapped in your lungs. They can get into your bloodstream. And, they can travel throughout your body contaminate other organs.
Water helps flush these particles from your system. Ten, 8-ounce glasses of water is a good target in general. If you’re detoxing, aim to increase this intake to 12 or 14 glasses.
2. Drink Hot Liquids
Cilia are a short eyelash-like filament that covers the tissue of cells. When operating correctly, they beat in unison, creating a current that can move particles throughout the body (via Encyclopedia Britannica).
When there is a decrease in air quality, it can cause the cilium (plural for cilia) to stop moving. Hot liquids can encourage the cilium to start moving again. This can promote the movement (and removal) of mucous and saliva, which often contains high levels of contaminants.
Bonus Tip: A good ‘hot liquid’ drink can be made by steeping Slippery Elm and Marshmallow Root in hot water. These two herbs support, moisten, and relax the fragile tissues in your mouth, throat, and lungs.
3. Use a Saline Nasal Spray
It’s easy for smoke exposure to cause irritated sinuses, irritation to the eyes, and shortness of breath. A saline nasal spray can help you moisten and soothe the inside of your nose. This can promote the expulsion of foreign matter and provide immediate relief.
4. Rinse Sinus with a Neti Pot
Think of a neti pot as a nasal spray on steroids. In short – a neti pot allows you to perform a thorough, natural nasal rinse. It helps you remove foreign substances. When you’re exposed to smoke, pollutants can easily get trapped in your nasal passage. If allowed to remain, they can easily travel to the lungs and cause additional issues.
Generally, a rinsing with a neti pot can reduce congestion and improve symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and dry nasal passages.
5. Breathe Steam with Thyme
Thyme has a wide variety of benefits, including:
- Anti- Microbial
Breathing a steam, rich with thyme, can help expel foreign substances, clear passageways, and reduce the irritation level of your sinuses. The simplest way to create thyme-filled steam is to add 1 – 2 TBS of thyme to a large bowl. Pour in boiling water. Lower your head so it’s inches from the hot water. Cover head and bowl with a large towel, trapping steam under the towel. Breathe deeply for 1 – 2 minutes. Repeat as needed.
6. Receive a Vitamin Rich IV Drip
IV drip therapy allows you to give your body a huge boost of the key vitamins and minerals it needs to function at its peak. Depending on your doctor, they can help you a specific cocktail to meet your individual needs.
At Tru Health, our naturopathic clinic offers specific detox drips that can help your body naturally cleanse unwanted foreign bodies, such as an excess of iron and metal, often ingested when exposed to smoke.
7. Load Your Diet with Ginger
Ginger is another fabulous, natural detoxifier. Not only does it contain chemical compounds that help the lungs function, ginger improves blood circulation. Plus, ginger is downright delicious.
It’s great in stir-fries, dressings, and marinades. Ginger can also be sliced and steeped in hot water to make a ginger tea. You may want to add a little lemon juice and honey to temper the flavor, as it can be very intense.
8. Up Your Vitamin C
Another natural antioxidant is Vitamin C. During the late fall and early winter, satsumas and pomegranates offer an easy and delicious way to add more Vitamin C to your diet. You may also consider a daily vitamin supplement. However, these oral applications don’t often give your body the full dose needed to fully detox.
When you talk with your naturopathic doctor about a Vitamin IV drip, ask whether or not Vitamin C will be included. Vitamin IV drips that includes Vitamin C can deliver a huge boost to your immune system and help your body detox.
9. Up Your Glutathione Levels
Glutathione is another natural antioxidant. It supports the production of cellular energy and can help protect your DNA from oxidative damage (a common side effect of smoke exposure).
From Vitamin IV Drips to medically supervised diet advice tailored to your needs, our naturopathic doctors are prepared to help you detox and restore your health.
Additional Tips to Support Your Immune System
Using natural lung support remedies you can help your body detox harmful toxins, repair damaged tissue, and improve respiratory function.
B12 injections can provide immediate benefits to those suffering from B12 deficiencies, helping to boost the immune system and improve energy.
Rather than wage war on an illness after it’s reared its ugly head, throw up the best defense available – a strong immune system!
Firefighters and First Responders
To help those who so bravely helped our community, we’re offering six months of free office visits to anyone directly involved in fighting the Fall 2017 Sonoma County fires.
If you are a firefighter, first responder, members of the sheriff’s department, police officers or helped fight the fire directly, the clinic is available to help you recover from smoke inhalation and stress. Learn more.
(Please note, this does not include necessary labs or other optional recommendations.)
Naturopathic health care with compassionate integrative doctors who understand your unique medical needs.