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‚ėĀūüĆĪSeasonal Lung SupportūüĆĪ‚ėĀ

‚ėĀūüĆĪSeasonal Lung SupportūüĆĪ‚ėĀ

With the devastating cold and flu season on the horizon, I thought it would be helpful to share some herbs and tips about how to support our lungs during this time. Our Respiratory system is responsible for the amazing process of BREATHING, through which our bodies take in oxygen to feed our cells and our blood. It is through our breath that we see the obvious reciprocity that human beings have with the plant world. As plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, we turn oxygen into carbon dioxide.  Not only do our lungs carry oxygen into our body, they also help us to filter out toxins. When there are more toxins in the air, there are herbs that can help the lungs with this process. Taking lung supportive herbs is also a way to show our bodies some loving care for the work they do everyday, and some extra support for the hard work they have been doing lately.  Many herbs that support the lungs also help us to move and process grief, as the loss of our forests and families, and the increasing threats of climate change has certainly brought this up for us, some more deeply than others. (Remember that these are supportive practices, and first and foremost, we should avoid excessive exposure to toxic air quality, especially if we already have weakness in the lungs.)

 


Supportive Herbs

 
 

Licorice:¬†¬†Licorice is an amazing herb with so many uses one could probably write an entire book about it, but for now we will stay focused on our respiratory system. Licorice has demulcent properties that soothe irritated tissues, and has an energizing quality that can help with some of the fatigue associated with smoky weather.¬† The herb acts as a vasodilator¬†to the blood vessels in the¬†lungs, thus helping us breathe more deeply.¬† It can also be useful for asthma or the inability to breathe deeply due to stress and¬†tightening in¬†the chest. Glycyrrhiza glabra adds a nice touch of sweetness to any tea blend, and acts as an activator and assimilator for other medicinal herbs in your blend. Michael Tierra writes, ‚ÄúIt is good for dryness of the¬†lungs, coughs and colds; it clears heat, detoxifies poisons, relieves abdominal pains and spasms, and counteracts sore throat.‚ÄĚ

Marshmallow Root and Leaf: Marshmallow also acts as a demulcent, as well as an expectorant by helping the body to thin and expel excess mucus. A wonderful, soothing, vulnerary (wound healing), nutritive and anti-inflammatory herb that is also very useful in for digestive issues.  Not to mention marshmallow is an adorable, soft, sweet and easy to grow flower that will brighten up your garden.  Through the softness of marshmallow we are able to work through more harsh emotions such as anger, grief and fear. 

Mullein:¬†¬†Mullein is the Queen of¬†Lung¬†Herbs (pictured above)! Her giant soft leaves act as a signifier for a plant that is associated with the¬†lungs. ¬†The hairs on her leaves mirror the cilia that cover our¬†lungs. Mullein is commonly used in smoking blends, but can also be used in tea or tincture. Mullein is anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, nutritive, and healing for the¬†lungs. David Hoffman says ‚ÄúIt is an ideal remedy for toning the mucous membranes of the respiratory system, reducing stimulation whilst stimulating fluid production and thus facilitating expectoration.‚Ä̬† Mullein aids us in taking a deep breath of new life into our¬†lungs¬†after struggle and conflict.¬†

Osha:¬†A very sacred herb to the native tribes of the rocky mountains, osha is an incredible herb for bronchial infection and irritation. ¬†It is antiseptic and expectorant. Just the bright and vibrant scent of the root alone makes one feel a sense of grounding and clarity.¬†Osha is also known as ‚Äúbear root‚ÄĚ, and is considered a bear medicine.¬† According to herbalist Karyn Sanders, bear medicines are about physical strength and self protection;¬†they help us to feel held when we are scared or alone.¬† Other Bear medicines include Angelica, Astragalus and Red Root. Unfortunately because of a high demand for Osha, the root has been over-harvested. Be sure to purchase Osha that has been cultivated as opposed to wild-crafted, so that the animals that use this plant continue to have access to it -¬†bears being one of them!

Astragalus:¬†Referred to as a ‚ÄúLung¬†Chi Tonic‚ÄĚ in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Astragalus helps to strengthen¬†lung¬†function over time. ¬†The root helps strengthen our immune system, and rebuild the¬†health¬†of weak¬†lungs.¬† Additionally, as a tonic, astragalus increases energy by strengthening digestion and assimilation, and helps us to ground.¬†

Nettle: This herb acts as a tonic and nutritive for the whole body. Nettle is rich in minerals, vitamins and chlorophyll.  Nettle leaf has anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties that may help with irritation from toxins, and allergic reactions.  By flooding our bodies with the minerals they crave, we prevent our bodies from mistaking other dangerous toxins with the minerals that we need. 

Plantain: Plantain is fantastic at healing tissues and pulling toxins out.  Not only that, but plantain also has a slight demulcent quality. We generally think of the leaf for our skin, but when we drink plantain as a tea, it can help heal are inner tissues as well.  

Elecampane: The root of elecampane acts as a rejuvenative tonic for the lungs, an expectorant, antiseptic and astringent. Additionally, elecampane has a pleasant warming spicy flavor and is particularly helpful for moving grief, and gunk from the lungs.

Cinnamon:  Cinnamon has the rare energetic composition of being warming and demulcent. It clears congestion, acts as an assimilator and driver in blends, improves circulation, and boosts vitality.

Schisandra: Schisandra is a tonic and restorative herb that works systematically. It can help us to take deeper breaths, so that we can ground more deeply into the body. If you have a lot of dryness, this may not be the herb for you as schisandra is very astringent. A teacher once described schisandra as helpful for "leaky" conditions in the physical and emotional realm. 

Garden Sage:  Sage, along with many common kitchen herbs like thyme and oregano, offer us powerful antiseptic and expectorant properties.  Look no further than your kitchen cabinet!  Rosemary Gladstar recommends making a sage tea and using it as a gargle for a sore throat.  

 

Herbal Preparations

 

Try making a cold infusion (let herbs sit in cold water overnight or for several hours) with Marshmallow Root, Mullein, Licorice, Ginger, and Cinnamon for a soothing yet nicely spiced blend. Infusing in cold water is the best way to extract the mucilaginous polysaccharides out of these herbs that will help soothe the throat and¬†lungs. In one study it was noted that ‚Äúpolysaccharide intake stimulated the immune system in the blood of¬†healthy¬†adults, dampened the allergic response to a respiratory inflammatory agent, and improved survival in cancer patients.‚ÄĚ
(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2998446/)

Try our Breathe Free Tea by Mountain Goddess Herbs : A blend of Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Slippery Elm Bark, Coltsfoot, Nettle, Pleurisy Root, Stevia. A yummy blend of soothing, expectorant and nutritive herbs.

Or

Try a blend of organic tinctures elecampane root, organic horehound herb, organic marshmallow root, organic mullein leaf, organic pleurisy root, organic ginger root, and organic licorice root.

Additional Ways to Soothe + Support:
 

Express your Grief: In TCM the emotion that the lungs are associated with is grief.  Losing our forests to fires is certainly something to grieve for, as well as the loss of home and habitat that the forests provide. The fires and the increasing threats from climate change have been collectively exhausting and frightening.  We have much to grieve for.  It is important that we find meaningful ways to express and share this grief.  So cry, wail, scream, write it out, sing it out, hold a ceremony with friends and family, connect with others through it all...do whatever you have to do! Some of my favorite herbs for grief are tulsi, rose and hawthorn. Tulsi helps us with adapting and transition. Rose and Hawthorn help us to protect and touch more deeply into our heart space.

Nose Oil:  Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to some sesame oil (not the toasted kind). Apply this oil to the inside of your nose when it feels dry and irritated.  Within Ayurveda sesame oil has been used for many purposes and since ancient times. It is considered to be tridoshic, meaning it has benefits for all three doshas - vata, pitta, kapha. It also has moistening, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Herbal Steam:  Place some volatile oil rich herbs such as thyme, sage, rosemary, hyssop, eucalyptus or mint in a bowl, and pour hot water over them. Proceed by placing your head over the bowl, and a towel over your head to keep the steam in. Breathe deeply.  These herbs can help expel toxins and mucus from the lungs, while the warm, moist air helps open up and clear the lungs. You can also use essential oils if that is what you have access to, but using whole plants allows us to receive a fuller spectrum of medicine. Or try our  Steam Oil blend with therapeutic grade essential oils. 

Breathing Exercises: In a safe space indoors, where the air is clean, try doing some meditative breathing exercises. Not only do these help with stress, but they also strengthen and tonify our whole respiratory system.
At Dragon Herbarium we carry an herbal smoking blend filled with herbs that help heal the lungs and relax the mind if you are seeking an alternative.  Our blend also contains Lobelia, which is an herb that curbs nicotine cravings as well as calms tension in the smooth muscles surrounding the lungs.  We would encourage you to try this blend as an alternative, or pick up some Lobelia tincture.  Some herbalists also recommend growing Tobacco in your garden to develop a different kind of relationship with the plant.  It can also be beneficial to ask yourself how the relationship with tobacco serves you and if you can fulfill that need in another way.
A note on Tobacco: If your lung troubles are exacerbated by smoking, be sure to add some supportive herbs to your daily regimen. It is always easier to add supportive herbs than quit a habit. There is no shame in smoking as Tobacco is a very grounding herb during difficult times and for people who are particularly sensitive to energies.  Obviously, cutting back or quitting will significantly prevent further lung damage. 

References/Inspiration:
Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra
King's Road Apothecary Newsletter
The Herbal Handbook by David Hoffman
Medicinal Herbs by Rosemary Gladstar
Karyn Sanders of Blue Otter School
Thank you for your support, we couldn't exist without you ♥