The fall season arrives in a few short weeks. The dry fall air can trigger several respiratory issues leaving your lungs vulnerable to external pathogens. To best combat this, it is essential to provide your lungs with the proper defense-enhancing nutrients. There are numerous herbs to choose from for this function and in this article, we’ll focus on a few of the most potent and easily accessible.
The lungs are a part of the respiratory system. This system has many crucial functions. In addition to assisting breathing, they:
- Deliver oxygen to the cells,
- Remove gas wastes, like carbon dioxide, from the body,
- Protect your air passageways from harmful external substances,
- Warms the air to match your body’s internal temperature, thus making the air useful,
- Assists in the functions of talking and smelling.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, the lungs not only control respiration, they also ‘govern qi’, the body’s energy system. More specifically, the lungs govern ‘wei qi’, or, ‘defensive energy’. This means that they are the body’s first line of defense against outside pathogens. According to this ancient medicinal system, the lungs also separate clear qi from toxic unclear qi; in doing so, it makes sure the body is only receiving the pure substance it needs to properly function.
The Skin and the Lungs
The state and health of the lungs is reflected in the health of the skin and hair. Many skin ailments, like eczema and psoriasis benefit by treating the lungs. It isn’t uncommon for someone suffering from asthma to also have issues with dry skin. Based on past alternative trials, treating the lungs can simultaneously improve the skin among many things. Below are a few general herbs that can assist this improvement.
Herbs to Support Healthy Lungs
If you suffer from seasonal environmental allergies, nettle is one herb you’ll want in your herbal medicine cabinet. One study confirmed the therapeutic effects of nettle (urtica dioica) on reducing asthmatic airway inflammation. Symptoms such as hay fever, mucus in the lungs, chronic cough and airway irritation can all benefit from the healing properties found in nettle.
Its nutrient dense leaves contain vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system while also acting as a potent lung tonic. Nettle can be taken as a tea, capsule, or tincture -- depending on your preference.
Thankfully, mint (also known as peppermint) is one of the most easily accessible herbs. Most grocery or health stores carry it. If not, it’s a breeze to grow in your own garden! In terms of properties, mint is widely known for supporting a balanced digestive system. Menthol, a derivative from mint, is an active decongestant and antispasmodic too. For coughs with yellow mucus (indicating the presence of heat in the lungs), mint is especially beneficial.
In fact, a few drops of peppermint oil in water is thought to have antiviral properties. Adding peppermint oil to a diffuser has been reported to help open airways for easier breathing. It’s also worth mentioning that it can help open nasal passages as well.
Steep loose leaf mint as a tea or capsule to receive both the respiratory and digestive benefits. As an added bonus, you can add a few drops of the oil to your tea for a more potent effect (this is helpful in the beginning stages of a cold or congestion as an initial immunity boost).
While this isn’t a single herb, Sinus Blaster is a product worth mentioning in this article. It is a combination of herbs blended specifically to address sinus issues related to colds, allergies, and infections. Sinus issues can easily affect the lungs if left untreated, so it is vital to treat earlier rather than later. The herbs in this product include:
- Horseradish root: contains glucosinolates and isothiocyanates that can help sinusitis or fungal infections
- Echinacea angustifolia root: reduces pain and inflammation associated with sinusitis.
- Fresh Spilanthes herb: great antibacterial
- Elderberry: Improves immunity
- Garlic: acts as an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal
- Cayenne fruit: reduces inflammation and opens passageways
- Olive leaf: antibacterial
- Horsehound herb: clears congested sinuses and lungs
- Licorice root: enhances the body’s interferon levels - a necessary component in fighting viruses
- Peppermint Oil: we’ve covered this above
- Boneset herb: anti-inflammatory
- Goldenseal root: anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial
- Wild Cherry Bark: reduces sinus inflammation
- Fresh Osha root: acts as a decongestant
- Andropgraphis: helpful in reducing lung inflammation
Another easily accessible herb, ginger is a commonly reached for herb when it comes to many ailments. In TCM and Western holistic methodologies, it is taken as a capsule, powder, tea, or used fresh in cooking to help improve active cold symptoms. For the lungs, ginger is an antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and a bronchial dilator. A simple tea can be made by boiling the herb. Like mint, ginger is a wonderful herb if your respiratory symptoms are coupled with digestive upset.
For an additional immune system boost, our Golden Ginger Zinger Syrup contains a synergistic blend of herbs that work alongside ginger.
Love or hate the flavor, licorice is an excellent herbs to support proper lung support. Mucus build up can lead to inflammation, mental fogginess, and a host of other ailments in the respiratory system. Licorice contains saponins that help loosen mucus while also cleansing the mucus membranes. This is especially helpful if you’re suffering from an unproductive cough, heaviness in the lungs from mucus, or have a general feeling of mucus build up in the lungs or throat.
Licorice tea, capsules or liquid work equally as well here. Choose a type that suits your needs.
Zinc is a mineral, not an herb. Nonetheless, it’s important to share particularly during the current pandemic. Promising research shows the effectiveness of zinc as a protective, antiviral strategy for combating the respiratory complications associated with COVID-19 virus.
It’s an essential nutrient to keep on board year round for its immune boosting properties as well as its ability to reduce the duration of cold symptoms.
For those with allergies, zinc has also been shown to reduce the hyperresponsiveness to certain allergens.
This is one supplement that should be taken year round!
As always, if you need assistance in choosing a combination of herbs that work best for you, schedule a consultation with us today.
Herbs are not created equally and neither are humans. Therefore, finding the proper combination for you is essential to receiving the best beneficial results.