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15 Plants & Herbs That Can Boost Lung Health, Heal Respiratory Infections & Repair Pulmonary Damage

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healthy_lungs_herbsWhen it comes to taking herbs for medicinal purposes, it seems the mainstream belief is that they are not as effective and not worth taking. While the effectiveness of herbs has not been studied deeply to determine how well they work across the entire population, the same could be said for most pharmaceutical drugs. Much of the time, pharmaceutical drugs attempt to mimic a compound that occurs in nature (herbs), but often bring the risk of side effects in the process.

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Safety is one of the most critical areas of review amongst herbs and drugs. According to stats released by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, no deaths have been reported due to the use and consumption of herbs.[4] However, pharmaceutical drugs and physician prescribed medications kill approximately one million Americans each year. While it is important to note that herbal medicines can be lethal in extreme doses, it appears their safety is much greater than that of pharmaceutical drugs. [2]

Interestingly, pharmaceutical drugs are actually adding to the world-wide issue of declining health due to their side effects and encouragement of viral resistance. Antibiotics in particular are adding to the wave of increased viral strength when it comes to certain infections. [3] Herbs, on the other hand, can be a useful tool in fighting infections that have turned into superbugs due to the overuse of antibiotics.

It is always useful to perform as much research as possible, or as you see fit, when it comes to both pharmaceutical drugs and herbs prior to taking them. Just as we approach the use of herbs with skepticism, so too should we approach the use of any pharmaceutical drugs with the same discerning eye.

Contrary to popular belief, our reluctance to use herbs in Western culture is not a result of their inefficacy. It is because pharmaceutical companies (and those who can benefit from the sale of pharmaceutical drugs) have done a great job of making them seem unsafe and inadequate. Herbs cannot be patented and owned, unlike synthetic drugs, which is why many pharma companies operate the way they do. Seek out the assistance of a naturopathic doctor, traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, ayurveda practioner, or herbologist before you use herbs. Like any medical issue, each illness can have different root causes and it’s always important to understand them before relying on any treatment to solve the entire problem.

Below is a list of herbs that can not only boost lung and respiratory health but can also repair it.
Herb information is courtesy of John Summerly who is a nutritionist, herbologist, and homeopathic practitioner.

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1. Licorice Root – Glycyrrhiza Glabra

Licorice is one of the more widely consumed herbs in the world. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it occurs in more formulas than any other single herb because it is thought to harmonize the action of all other herbs. Licorice is very soothing and softens the mucous membranes of the throat and especially the lungs and stomach, and at the same time cleanses any inflamed mucous membrane that needs immune system support . It reduces the irritation in the throat and yet has an expectorant action. It is the saponins (detergent-like action) that loosen the phlegm in the respiratory tract so that the body can expel the mucus. Compounds within this root help relieve bronchial spasms and block the free radical cells that produce the inflammation and tightening of the airways. The compounds also have antibacterial and antiviral effects to them as well, which helps fight off viral and bacterial strains in the body that can cause lung infections. Glycrrhizins and flavonoids can even help prevent lung cancer cells from forming. For people with high blood pressure this should be taken with caution.

2. Coltsfoot – Tussilago Farfara

Coltsfoot has been traditionally used by Native Americans for thousands of years to strengthen the lungs. It clears out excess mucus from the lungs and bronchial tubes. It also soothes the mucus membranes in the lungs and has been shown in research to assist with asthma, coughs, bronchitis, and other lung ailments. Coltsfoot is available in dried form for tea or as an alcohol extract known as a tincture.

3. Cannabis

The toxic breakdown of therapeutic compounds in cannabis from burning the plant are totally avoided with vaporization. Extracting and inhaling cannabinoid essential oils of the unprocessed plant affords significant mitigation of irritation to the oral cavity that comes from smoking. Cannabis is perhaps one of the most effective anti-cancer plants in the world, shown in study after study to stimulate cannabinoid receptor activation in specific genes and mediate the anti-invasive effect of cannabinoids. Vaporizing cannabis allows the active ingredients to stimulate the body’s natural immune response and significantly reduces the ability of infections to spread. Vaporizing cannabis (especially with very high amounts of cannabinoids) opens up airways and sinuses, acting as a bronchodilator. It is even a proven method for treatment and reversal of asthma.

4. Osha Root – Ligusticum porteri

Osha is an herb native to the Rocky Mountain area and has historically been used by the Native Americans for respiratory support. The roots of the plant contain camphor and other compounds which make it one of the best lung-support herbs in America. One of the main benefits of osha root is that it helps increase circulation to the lungs, which makes it easier to take deep breaths. Also, when seasonal sensitivities flare up your sinuses, osha root, which is not an actual antihistamine, produces a similar effect and may help calm respiratory irritation.

5. Thyme – Thymus

Thyme is very powerful in the fight against chest congestion. It produces powerful antiseptic essential oils which are classified as naturally antibiotic and anti-fungal. Thyme is well known to zap acne more so than expensive prescription creams, gels, and lotions. Thyme tea has the power to chase away and eliminate bacteria and viruses, so whether your infection is based on one or the other, it will still work. Thyme has been used as a lung remedy since antiquity and is used extensively today to prevent and treat respiratory tract infections and bacterial infection pneumonia.

6. Oregano

Although oregano contains the vitamins and nutrients required by the immune system, its primary benefits are owed to its carvacrol and rosmarinic acid content. Both compounds are natural decongestants and histamine reducers that have direct, positive benefits on the respiratory tract and nasal passage airflow. Oil of oregano fights off the dangerous bacteria Staphylococcus aureus better than the most common antibiotic treatments. Oregano has so many health benefits that a bottle of organic oregano oil should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet.

7. Lobelia Inflata

Did you know that horses given lobelia are able to breathe more deeply? Its benefits are not limited to equestrians. It has been used as an “asthmador” in Appalachian folk medicine. Lobelia, by some accounts, is thought to be one of the most valuable herbal remedies in existence. Extracts of Lobelia Inflata contain lobeline, which showed positive effects in the treatment of multidrug-resistant tumor cells. Lobelia contains an alkaloid known as lobeline, which thins mucus and breaks up congestion. Additionally, lobelia stimulates the adrenal glands to release epinephrine; in effect, this relaxes the airways and allows for easier breathing. Also, because lobelia helps to relax smooth muscles, it is included in many cough and cold remedies. Lobelia should be part of everyone’s respiratory support protocol!

*Use with caution as too much can cause side effects.

8. Elecampane – Inula Helenium

Elecampane has been used by Native Americans for many years to clear out excess mucus that impairs lung function. It is known as a natural antibacterial agent for the lungs, helping to lessen infection, particularly for people who are prone to lung infections like bronchitis. Herbal practitioners often recommend one teaspoon of the herb per cup of boiling water, drunk three times daily for two to three weeks. Elecampane is also available in tincture format for ease.

9. Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus Globulus

Native to Australia, eucalyptus isn’t just for Koala bears! Aborigines, Germans, and Americans have all used the refreshing aroma of eucalyptus to promote respiratory health and soothe throat irritation. Eucalyptus is a common ingredient in cough lozenges and syrups and its effectiveness is due to a compound called cineole. Cineole has numerous benefits — it’s an expectorant, can ease a cough, fights congestion, and soothes irritated sinus passages. As an added bonus, because eucalyptus contains antioxidants, it supports the immune system during a cold or other illness.

10. Mullein – Verbascum Thapsus

Both the flowers and the leaves of the mullein plant are used to make an herbal extract that helps strengthen the lungs. Mullein is used by herbal practitioners to clear excess mucus from the lungs, cleanse the bronchial tubes, and reduce inflammation that is present in the respiratory tract. A tea can be made from one teaspoon of the dried herb to one cup of boiled water. Alternatively, you can take a tincture form of this herb.

11. Lungwort – Pulmonaria officinalis

As early as the 1600’s, lungwort has been used to promote lung and respiratory health and clear congestion. Pulmonaria selections come in all kinds so seek a herbologist for direction. Lungwort also contains compounds that are powerfully effective against harmful organisms that affect respiratory health.

12. Chaparral

Chaparral, a plant native to the Southwest, has been appreciated by the Native Americans for lung detoxification and respiratory support for many years. Chaparral contains powerful antioxidants that resist irritation, and NDGA, which is known to fight histamine response. NDGA inhibits aerobic and anaerobic glycolysis (the energy-producing ability) of cancer cells. Chaparral is also an herb that fights harmful organisms. The benefits of chaparral are mostly available in a tincture extraction but chaparral tea may support respiratory problems by encouraging an expectorant action to clear airways of mucus. [Source]

13. Sage – Salvia Officinalis

Sage’s textured leaves give off a heady aroma, which arises from sage’s essential oils. These oils are the source of the many benefits of sage tea for lung problems and common respiratory ailments. Sage tea is a traditional treatment for sore throats and coughs. The rich aromatic properties arising from sage’s volatile oils of thujone, camphor, terpene, and salvene can be put to use by inhaling sage tea’s vapors to dispel lung disorders and sinusitis. Alternatively, brew a strong pot of sage tea and place it into a bowl or vaporizer.

14. Peppermint – Mentha × Piperita

Peppermint and peppermint oil contains menthol — a soothing ingredient known to relax the smooth muscles of the respiratory tract and promote free breathing. Dried peppermint typically contains menthol, menthone, menthyl acetate, menthofuran, and cineol. Peppermint oil also contains small amounts of many additional compounds including limonene, pulegone, caryophyllene, and pinene. Paired with the antihistamine effect of peppermint, menthol is a fantastic decongestant. Many people use therapeutic chest balms and other inhalants that contain menthol to help break up congestion. Additionally, peppermint is an antioxidant and fights harmful organisms.

15. Plantain herb – Plantago major and P. lanceolata

Plantain leaf has been used for hundreds of years to ease coughs and soothe irritated mucous membranes. Many of its active constituents show antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as being anti-inflammatory and antitoxic. Clinical trials have found it favorable against cough, cold, and lung irritation. Plantain leaf has an added bonus in that it may help relieve a dry cough by spawning mucus production in the lungs.

Sources:

1. http://www.everygreenherb.com/lungs.html

2. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100209183337.htm?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

3. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/antibiotics-may-make-fighting-flu-harder

5. http://thegoodnewsnp.com.au/files/45th_Edition_small_file_size._pdf.pdf

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A Potential Solution To Reduce Snoring & Sleep Apnea

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I’d like to share with you a convenient alternative remedy that has helped all of my clients to reduce snoring and sleep apnea, and that is by wearing a tape to keep your mouth closed during sleep. A new study published this year also showed the efficacy of this treatment.

Snoring and sleep apnea not only represent a holistic health risk to an individual, the irritating noise at night can often create conflict in a couple’s relationship. I’d like to share with you a convenient alternative remedy that has helped all of my clients to reduce snoring and sleep apnea, and that is by wearing a tape to keep your mouth closed during sleep. A new study published this year also showed the efficacy of this treatment.

Major Cause of Snoring & Sleep Apnea

One major cause of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea is mouth breathing during sleep, especially when you sleep in the supine position. When you sleep in the supine position with an open mouth, gravity pulls down your jaw and tongue, which then compresses your throat. As a result, your airway gets suppressed and narrowed, leaving less space for the air to pass through.

Mouth breathing also introduces stronger air flow as you inhale and exhale, which exacerbates the airway soft tissue vibration, causing the loud snoring noise. Strong air flow during mouth breathing also induces strong negative pressure that sucks in the soft tissues around the throat area, further narrowing your airway and eventually causing it to collapse, resulting in obstructive sleep apnea.

The Quick Fix? Wear Tape To Keep Your Mouth Closed

As I mentioned earlier, one of the main causes of snoring and sleep apnea is mouth breathing. A quick fix to keep your mouth closed during the night is to apply a small piece of tape over it. When your mouth is closed and lips are together, it is harder for you jaw to fall back even when lying in a supine position. Keeping your mouth closed also forces you to breathe through your nose, which not only helps to regulate the airflow to reduce the negative pressure inside your airway, but also reduces soft tissue vibration

An otoralyngology study published this year in the American Academy of Otolaryngology Journal demonstrated the effectiveness of this technique, showing significant reduction in median AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index) score and snoring index [1].

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In the past few years, ENT specialist Dr. Hung Cheng Tseng and I have recommended wearing tape for all of our clients as part of our AirwayFit training program, and the feedback has been great. For some CPAP users, wearing tape on their mouth can help to eliminate the air leakage issue. In addition, if you often find yourself waking up with a dried mouth and throat, this method will also help you keep your mouth and throat moisturized throughout the night.

How To Apply?

In practice, wearing tape to sleep is actually a lot less daunting than it sounds.

Visit any drug store near you and pick up a small roll of medical grade paper tape. It should cost you no more than $10. I recommend ones that are hypoallergenic, porous, and non-waterproof. When you wear the tape, you want to roll your lips slightly inward so you don’t apply it directly onto your lips. Otherwise, your lips can really hurt when you remove it in the morning. Some people apply some lip balm or vaseline onto their lips first as a layer of protection.

You don’t have to wear the tape over your entire mouth. You can start by wearing it vertically, in the center, right beneath your nose, and that should suffice; as long as the tape keeps your jaw up, you should be fine. I also recommend you to pre-fold one of the corners of the tape, just so that there’s a corner you can grab onto easily in the morning to tear it off.  If you have sensitive skin and you find removing the tape hurts, you can wet it with water before you remove it in the morning. You could also reduce the stickiness of the tape prior to use by sticking it onto your forearm a couple of times before applying to your lips.

If you really are panicked by this idea, then as I mentioned before, you can try wearing it only at the center portion of your mouth. This will leave gaps on the two sides of your mouth but still keep your jaw in the upright position during sleep. Also, if it’s your first night trying this method, wearing the tape 30 minutes before you go to bed can help you adjust to the feeling.

Most people who have tried the tape method to keep their mouth closed find it convenient and more comfortable and cheaper than the alternative methods. However, I would caution against wearing tape to keep your mouth closed if you experience the following: nausea or epilepsy, or if you have consumed alcohol or any pill or medicine prior to sleep. Otherwise, give it a try today and you will find yourself waking up feeling much more energized and hydrated the next morning!

To learn more about your sleep trouble, visit www.AirwayFit.com

Source:

[1]    Huang TW., Young TH., “Novel Porous Oral Patches for Patients with Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Mouth Breathing: A Pilot Study” American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery 152.2 (2015): 369-373. Print.

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A Simple Recipe For A Homemade Non-Toxic Fabric Softener

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Many fabric softeners are loaded with toxic chemicals that may cause harm to our health.

  • Reflect On:

    Have you looked for alternatives to make or to buy? There are plenty out there.

Fabric softeners are one of the most unnecessary dangerous chemicals that you may be using in your home, and it’s important that you stop right away. There are much better, safer, all natural alternatives that will keep you, your family, and the environment safe. The natural alternatives can also prolong the life of your clothes. Really, we have no reason to have ever invented such a toxic product in the first place.

Fabric softener is one thing, among many household items, that absolutely must go, and hopefully from the awareness that is raised from this article and many others that are exposing these harmful chemicals for what they are, we will continue to see the decline in their use as people continue to opt for safer, cleaner alternatives.

So, What Is So Bad About Conventional Fabric Softeners?

First of all, the majority of conventional cleaning and personal care products can essentially be thrown in the garbage as they are absolutely loaded with chemicals, many of which are completely banned in other countries. We have many safer, all-natural alternatives to these types of things and we simply do not need to be using these to clean ourselves, our home, or our clothes. People sometimes assume that our governments have our best interests in mind and wouldn’t allow ingredients that are toxic to our health into the products that we use on a regular basis, and while that’s a nice thought, it is a naive one.

Fabric Softeners are among the worst offenders in terms of toxicity and it really makes one wonder how these chemical pollutants were approved by the U.S. Environmental Agency in the first place. The purpose of Fabric Softeners is to free your clothes from wrinkles and static cling and of course leave them smelling mountain fresh or like a field of lavender, but at what cost is this “fresh” smell?

According to the Environmental Working Group, fabric softeners contain chemicals and fragrances that can cause skin irritation and respiratory irritation. The fragrance element alone can come from hundreds of different chemical compounds, and yes many of them are toxic.

Interestingly, according to what Anne Steinmann, Ph.D., professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia and a world expert on environmental pollutants and their health effects, said in an interview with New Scientist, “Most exposure to hazardous pollutants occurs indoors, and a primary source for these pollutants is our everyday consumer products.”

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New Scientist also has stated that there are no legal requirements that all the ingredients, including potential toxins be listed for most of the products we use every day. While the compounds they contain have been tested individually for toxicity, scientists admit it’s hard to say how dangerous they might become when some are mixed.

Conventional fabric softeners are either a liquid that you pour into the rinse cycle of your washing machine, or a sheet that is thrown into the dryer with your clothes. Both contain compounds that are especially harmful to children. Toxic chemicals can easily enter your body through the skin. One of the worst is phthalates, which are added to emit a fake fresh fragrance, the University of Illinois Cancer center had the following to say about phthalates,

“Phthalates [are a] synthetic preservative that’s carcinogenic and linked to adverse reproductive effects (decreased sperm counts, early breast development and birth defects) and live and kidney damage.”

Steinmann also noted,

“Using a liquid fabric softener? You are pouring these toxic chemicals into the ocean every time you use it. Even worse than liquid fabric softeners are dryer sheets, whose chemicals are heated and then shot into the air for you to breathe into your lungs.

That ‘fresh-from-the-dryer’ smell that fabric softeners impart to your clean load of laundry? Don’t breathe it in, if you like your lungs to function. That super floral smell is masking a seriously unhealthy chemical stench.

So, What Are The Alternatives?

Luckily, there are lots, which begs the question, why did we ever start using these horrible toxic products in the first place? Every chemical product that is in use today for personal care or home cleaning could essentially vanish from the Earth and you know what? We would make do.

A simple recipe for a homemade fabric softener is as follows:

Ingredients

2 Cups Epsom Salts or 2 Cups Coarse Sea Salt
20-30 Drops Essential Oil
1/2 Cup Baking Soda

Simply mix all ingredients together and store in a container with tight-fitting lid, add ½ cup directly to your load of laundry.

Some even more simple ideas are as follows,

One half cup pure baking soda added to your laundry.

One cup of distilled white vinegar and about 15 drops of your favorite essential oil shaken in a spray bottle, give your wet clothes a spritz after they are washed, before you put into the dryer.
Don’t worry the vinegar smell will go away.


A crumpled up ball of aluminum foil tossed in the dryer with your clothes can help to get rid of the static cling.

Another great alternative, that is simple, cost-effective, economical and environmentally friendly is the use of dryer balls. You can get the plastic kind that can cut your drying time in half and reduce the static cling in your clothes, but to be more environmentally conscious there are also wool dryer balls that you can purchase or easily make your own.

Final Thoughts

Here’s what it comes down to, as consumers we have been gravely misinformed and maybe we have believed that there are some kind of standards set in place by our governments, unfortunately, it seems that these protection agencies, for the most part, don’t have our best interest in mind. So, with that in mind, it is up to us to be aware of what we are purchasing, if we stop purchasing these conventional products which contain harmful ingredients such as phthalates and fragrances, then the big corporations will either change their recipes, stop using these chemicals or simply go out of business. As the consumer, we have a direct vote for the types of products that are being produced by how we are choosing to spend our money. If WE don’t want chemicals in our products, we must simply stop buying them and start making our own. We must take responsibility for our own lives and create the type of world we want to live in. It is up to each and every one if us.

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Pamela Anderson Speaks Out Against Porn & Explains How It Can Ruin Lives & Relationships

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Pamela Anderson has called out the pornography industry and has provided a warning about the damage it can cause.

  • Reflect On:

    Think about the porn industry, it's origins, and what it has become today. How can porn impact us psychologically, physically, and what impact is it having on the younger generation and their overall perception of sex and sexuality?

Perhaps one of the most iconic sex symbols of our time, former Baywatch star and Playboy Bunny Pamela Anderson, has a warning for us all. In an op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal, entitles “Take The Pledge: No More Indulging Porn,” Anderson andrabbi-counselor Shmuley Boteach warn about how watching too much porn can ruin lives and relationships.

She’s been quite an activist as of late, the picture you see above was taken in her support for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange.

For those of you who may be thinking how hypocritical this sounds coming from a former porn star, (I can hear the comments now) just remember, people can change and often do. Who better suited to know about the porn industry than an insider? There was a lot of backlash for her article, but perhaps she is onto something here.

“From our respective positions of rabbi-counselor and former Playboy model and actress, we have often warned about pornography’s corrosive effects on a man’s soul and on his ability to function as husband and, by extension, as father,” the pair continue. “This is a public hazard of unprecedented seriousness given how freely available, anonymously accessible and easily disseminated pornography is nowadays.”

“How many families will suffer? How many marriages will implode? How many talented men will scrap their most important relationships and careers for a brief onanistic thrill? How many children will propel, warp-speed, into the dark side of adult sexuality by forced exposure to their fathers’ profanations?”

The Problem With Porn

I’m not here to demonize an entire genre and subculture, but there are a few things that we should all consider when it comes to porn. This topic is fairly taboo, even though it is extremely prevalent in our current society — just from a couple clicks of your fingertips a whole world of all kinds of sexual fantasies and fetishes are available. Online you can find anything you want, and the “selection” of what is offered has certainly ramped up in the digital age. What used to be seemingly innocent magazines and videotapes is now a whole underworld of anything you could imagine — often including crude and violent scenes of degradation and objectification of young women and men, too.

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Watching porn frequently is not only highly addictive, but overtime it can also lead to desensitization. This could be the reason that the porn seems to be getting more and more violent and grotesque over the past decade or so. Viewers are needing more and more to simply feel something.

It’s Okay To Play

When it comes to sex, we all have different desires, fantasies and wants and this information is not intending to shame anyone for their own. There is a whole subculture of people who are aroused by BDSM, and other fetishes, which is absolutely fine. However, this type of sexual play is often consensual, with strict rules in place. Some of the porn that is emerging is known as abuse porn and does not depict a consensual experience.

“The sensual revolution would replace pornography with eroticism—the alloying of sex with love, of physicality with personality, of the body’s mechanics with imagination, of orgasmic release with binding relationships. In an age where public disapproval is no longer an obstacle to personal disgrace, we must turn instead to the appeal of self-interest,” they write.

“Simply put, we must educate ourselves and our children to understand that porn is for losers—a boring, wasteful and dead-end outlet for people too lazy to reap the ample rewards of healthy sexuality.”

It’s Time To Talk About It

Of course in an effort to remain neutral we shouldn’t generalize the entirety of porn and judge those who watch it, but it is something that we should be openly discussing more often. Raising awareness of the potential consequences and effects of porn would be a great place to start. Especially because the younger people are likely accessing this type of material online and there is a good chance that what they are seeing is their first glimpse of sexuality.

Are the scenes depicted in porn how we want our children to be viewing sex? Do we want our sons and daughters to believe that this is what sex is all about and all there is to it? Or should we be teaching them that although it can be fun to play games that both parties should be respecting each other and consenting to the experience before engaging in this type of play? And that sex can be a beautiful, loving and sacred act. It’s time to open up the conversations and bring awareness to the consequences of watching too much porn and the potential for addiction.

There is an excellent movie about this very topic called “Don Jon” a young man who is totally addicted to porn and hooking up scores a “perfect 10,” unfortunately, even she is not enough to satisfy his desires and he actually prefers watching porn to being with her. I won’t reveal how this movie ends, but it is very enlightening around the topic and is an enjoyable film.

For more information on this topic, read, “The Problem With Porn: Something We Should All Consider”

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