Supporting Lung Health

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Supporting Lung Health

Supporting Lung Health – healthy tips you can try at home!

The respiratory system is a main target organ for the harmful effects of air pollutants. Certain pollutants have been implicated in causing damage to lungs, including particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Episodes of exposure to high concentrations of outdoor air pollutants can cause or exacerbate respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, and COPD. However, there is increasing evidence suggesting that significant exposure to outdoor air pollutants may also be associated with development of lung cancer.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that outdoor air pollution may have caused 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012. Particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 µm (PM2.5) and ozone are amongst the most studied air pollutants of health concern. Although the most common cause of lung cancer is long-term exposure to tobacco smoke, an estimated 10–25% of cases worldwide occur in those who have never smoked. Ozone, Nitric oxide, and particulate matter are generated by urban traffic and industry.

Results suggest that exposure to particulate matter less than 2.5 microns may increase the risk of developing asthma because pollutants under 2.5 microns in diameter (= PM 2.5), are so tiny they lodge deep into lung tissue and can not be exhaled. Unfortunately, Utah is notorious for inversions with small particulate matter. Inversions occur during the winter months when normal atmospheric conditions (cool air above, warm air below) become inverted.

Inversions trap a dense layer of cold air under a layer of warm air. The warm layer acts much like a lid, trapping pollutants in the cold air near the valley floor. The Wasatch Front valleys and the surrounding mountains act like a bowl, keeping this cold air in the valleys4 . It appears that one of the big culprits in producing poor air quality in Salt Lake Valley is car emission. Mobile sources and area sources combined account for 89% of the emissions that contribute to fine particulate pollution along the Wasatch Front.4 It would behoove us to drive less, carpool more and become a more bike friendly city like Portland, Oregon.

Source: http://www.health.utah.gov/utahair/pollutants/PM

Symptoms of exposure to particulate matter

People with heart conditions may experience:

• Chest pain

• Irregular heartbeat

• Shortness of breath

• Fatigue

People with lung conditions may experience:

• Coughing

• Shortness of breath

• Decreased ability to breathe deeply or vigorously

• Increased susceptibility to respiratory infections

• Aggravation of existing lung conditions like asthma and chronic bronchitis.

Healthy people may experience temporary symptoms like:

• Eye, nose, and throat irritation

• Coughing

• Chest tightness

• Shortness of breath Ways to Reduce Exposure

• The likelihood of being affected by PM increases as more time is spent outdoors during periods with high PM levels, and as more strenuous activities are performed

• Protect your health when PM levels are high. Monitor PM levels in your area. Since exercise is good for health, it is important to both stay active as well as know when to make changes

• Reduce the amount of time spent on high exertion activities. Substitute a less strenuous activity (e.g., take a walk instead of jogging or running)

• Plan outdoor activities for days when PM levels are low

• Spend less time in areas likely to have higher PM levels, such as near busy roads. PM levels can also be elevated indoors, particularly when outdoor levels are high. (EPA 2014).

Here are some ways to reduce indoor PM:

• Do not smoke indoors

• Reduce the use of particle sources like candles; wood burning stoves, and fireplaces.

Certain air filters can help reduce indoor PM. To look at air quality for the day, visit: http://www.health.utah.gov/utahair/AQI/

Natural Ways To Improve Lung Health

1) Botanical herbs: Lobelia, Licorice, Eucalyptus, Lungwort, Oregano, Plantain leaf, Elecampane, Lobelia, Chaparral, Peppermint and Osha root.***Ask us about our herbal tinctures!***

2) Supplements: N-acetyl-cysteine: (Our featured supplement of the month!) Vitamin C (Routes: Buffered, Lypo-spheric C, or Intravenous), Coenzyme Q-10, Cordyceps, Asian Ginseng (Panax), Quercitin, Resveratrol, Omega 3 fatty acids (Flaxseeds, walnuts, cod liver oil), Vitamin A, D and zinc

3) Household plants: Studies by scientists at NASA suggest that certain plants can clean air, absorb carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds (i.e. benzene and formaldehyde). Examples of such plants include: Peace lilies, Japanese Royal ferns, snake plants, spider plants, Boston ferns, English Ivy, and aloe

4) Steam inhalation with essential oils or nebulizer with Lobelia leaf and licorice root.

5) Himalayan salt lamps: These lamps work to clean the air by attracting humidity, causing the surface of salt crystal to become moist, creating a buildup of ions and removing moisture from the air. Salt lamps ultimately generate negative ions, which draw positive ions out of the environment. Negative ions help neutralize electromagnetic chaos and radiation which then decreases allergens and irritants in the air. Sources of electromagnetic chaos (excess positive ions) include: television, computers and cell phones. The frequencies associated with these causes vibrations that are 20 times faster than brain waves. This lends to nervousness, sleep disturbances, lack of concentration and increased free radical damage.

6) Castor oil packs: Be sure to use organic, cold pressure castor oil. Packs are placed over lungs at intervals of 1-2 hours. The active agents in the oil are believed to help break up congestion and decrease inflammation, allowing toxins in the lungs to be expectorated from the body.

7) Dealing with grief: Every organ in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is associated with a specific emotion. The emotion of sadness affects the lungs more than any other organ. In Chinese medicine, the emotion can be the cause or the result of physical imbalance. Working through past or present grief can help rebalance lung health. Finding peace through prayer, mediation, EMDR, hypnotherapy, dance, sport, massage, Reiki, listening to healing sounds (frequencies), and art are just a handful of ways to express grief. According to TCM, pungent foods are most healing to the lungs. (i.e. garlic, ginger, cardamom, onion, cabbage, pears, cucumber, miso, broccoli, mustard greens, navy beans, eggs, asparagus, and almonds).

References: 1. http://www.livescience.com/38445-indoor-plants-clean-air.html 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549691/ 3. http://products.mercola.com/himalayan-salt/himalayan-salt-lamps.htm 4. http://www.ci.slc.ut.us/winter-inversions-what-are-they-and-what-we-can-all-do-help 5. https://www.chinesemedicineliving.com/philosophy/the-emotions/grief-the-lungs/