Herbs can help protect against outdoor smoke and indoor smoke


When smoke is in the air

Wild fires, smoke from factories, cigarette smoke, kitchen fires, and other smoke can cause mucous membranes and the lungs to become irritated and inflamed. All types of smoke can cause damage to the body if enough is inhaled. The immune system is also affected by breathing smoke and can result in joint pain and other conditions not usually associated with smoke inhalation.

People with asthma, emphysema, heart disease, sinus problems, and allergies are especially prone to developing problems from smoke. Common symptoms from smoke inhalation include fatigue, coughing, throat irritation, watering eyes, sinus congestion, wheezing, shortness of breath, headaches, and nose bleeds.

Protect mucus membranes from smoke

Smoke in the air? Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water and herbal teas with lemon. Also drink mullein tea.

Mullein helps heal damaged lung tissue.

Herbs can really help to heal smoke damaged tissue and mucus membranes. Building immunity is also important for healing. Try astragalus, ginseng, yellowroot, and licorice tea or capsules. Eat oatmeal, yogurt, and bananas to soothe the throat.

It may also help to irrigate the sinuses with a weak saline solution (salt water).

It is unpleasant but can bring relief – just snort some warm salt water out of a bowl.

Use over-the-counter or prescription eye lubricants to help protect dry, irritated eyes.

Follow the directions on the label. If over-the-counter or prescription eye drops are not available, use distilled water to make a week yellowroot, calendula, or eyebright tea. Cool completely, strain two times through clean coffee filters or sterile cotton cloth, and pour a little into eyes with a teaspoon. Old timers would also add a tiny pinch of boric acid to the eye wash but most people no longer keep it on hand.

Tips to keep safe from outdoor smoke

If you live in an area where there is obvious smoke in the air or where you can smell smoke, stay indoors and keep windows closed. Don't forget pets – bring them inside, too.

Beware indoor smoke

Do not fry food at high temperatures -- you don't need to breath smoke from cooking oil getting too hot. Do not burn candles. Do not use fireplaces or wood heaters unless they are vented correctly. Avoid air fresheners, incense, and cigarette smoke, too.

If you live with a habitual smoker, help them to stop.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Ask them to quit
  • Ask them to smoke outdoors
  • Provide info on the dangers of smoking
  • Explain dangers of second-hand smoke
  • Enroll them in a smoking cessation program

If breathing becomes difficult, leave the smoke behind.

If breathing becomes labored, seek a location where smoke is not present. This is especially important for babies, children, the elderly, and people with existing conditions. If exposed to lots of smoke, get emergency help as soon as possible.

Traveling through a smoky area?

A wet dish cloth is more beneficial than a face mask. Face masks are designed to trap larger particles like sawdust, not smoke.

After exposure to smoke, add extra antioxidants to the diet.

Fresh vegetables, fruits, and berries can really help the body to remove toxins. Antioxidants like rose hips and elderberries help the body to heal. Also consider taking a vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin D supplement for a couple of weeks after smoke exposure.

* If exposed to lots of smoke or if breathing becomes difficult, get emergency help as soon as possible.

Herbs can help protect the lungs from smoke damage
© Darko Draskovic | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Medicinal herbs can help protect your lungs, eyes, and throat against smoke damage.

"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... Janice Boling herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer

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