Updated: Aug 24, 2021
It’s difficult to enjoy summer in Western Canada while wildfires are raging. This year alone there has been more than half a million hectares of land burnt by wildfires in British Columbia. Smoke clouds generated by these fires can greatly impact air quality in neighboring cities. The health effects of air pollution are serious. Prolonged exposure to poor air supply may result in loss of lung capacity and decreased lung function. In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) good lung health plays an integral role in good overall health. Good lung health in TCM impacts both our energy levels and our ability to fight off diseases. There are herbs in TCM that strengthen lung function and detox the lungs. You may want to add one or two of these herbs to your diet to improve your lung health, not only during wildfire season but throughout the entire year.
In TCM each herb has specific properties that influences the way it effects the body. Green tea or Camellia sinensis in TCM is cooling in nature. It is commonly used in formulas for headaches that occur when our bodies are fighting off colds and flus. One study in the Journal of Nutrition found frequent consumption of green tea reduces the risk of chronic obstructive lung disease in middle age and older adults. Another study found persons who drank at least 2 cups of green tea daily had better lung function than those who drank none. Green tea consumption has also been linked to the prevention of lung cancer.
Licorice root is perhaps the most used herb in TCM. Licorice root or Glycyrrhiza glabra is used in TCM to improve digestive function and moderate the toxic effects of other herbs. Licorice root boosts energy levels and treats disorders such as shortness of breath and fatigue. One of its primary functions is to moisten the lungs, remove mucous and stop coughing. It is used by some herbalists to soothe sore throats. Studies have found it effective in the treatment of tonsillitis, tuberculosis, and asthma. Honey processed licorice root is better to strengthen lung function than raw licorice root.
Ginger or Zingiber officinale in TCM is both acrid and hot. It warms the lungs and dissolves phlegm. It is commonly used to treat the accumulation of cold and fluids in the lungs characterized by coughing and wheezing, aversion to cold and profuse thin mucous. Ginger is commonly used in TCM prescriptions and recipes to ward off the common cold in its early stage. Studies have found the constituents in ginger cause bronchodilation in asthmatic patients within 30 minutes. One animal study also found that ginger efficiently reduced lung damage and protected the lungs from severe damage due to inflammation.
Astragalus root is sweet and slightly warm. Astralagus root or Radix Astragali is an important herb in TCM. Studies have found that among its many benefits, astralagus root boosts immunity and has antibiotic and hypertensive effects. One of its principal functions in TCM is to protect the Wei or Defensive Qi. Defensive qi protects our bodies from colds, other respiratory conditions, and allergies. Animal studies have found the herb also protects against toxins. Astralagus root is considered an adaptogen in Western Herbal Medicine. It helps protect the body against physical, mental, and emotional stressors.
As with all medicines and supplements herbs must be used at the correct dosage to be effective. Consulting a specialist is always recommended before supplementing with herbs. Follow us at NW Vibration for more self care information!