In this age of airborne pathogens of particularly formidable varieties, we need to be proactive towards our lungs and respiratory systems.
The respiratory system is the main portal for supplying the body’s oxygen. While oxygen is critical for all bodily functions it is all important for the existence and functioning of profoundly oxygen demanding organs like the brain, heart and other muscles. In addition, oxygen helps defend against bacteria and microbes and many cancer cells.
The nose and breathing apparatus function as a barrier to and filtration of infectious and other foreign substances.
The Microbiome in the mucosa or moist lining of the respiratory tract is akin to and communicates with the mucosal lining in the digestive tract and is therefore strengthened by healthy gut flora, which can be supported by probiotic supplementation.
Also, colon cleansing with fiber and herbs like red clover and aloe is a good idea because that may help alleviate the burden of the egress of accumulated or stubborn waste products and toxins, in addition to carbon dioxide and other metabolic by products like phlegm, etc. from the lungs during exhalation. This is sensible, as many traditional healing systems such as Ayurveda view the colon/digestive system and the lungs most notably in TCM and their meridians or energy pathways as inter-related.
Masks can increase the potential for hypoxia or reduced oxygen supplies or levels that can contribute to oxidative stress-the process of generating free radicals and toxins that can disrupt detoxification, further contributing to degenerative processes that can lead to arthritis, heart and circulatory disease and other aging symptoms.
Thus, optimal breathing (respiration) is not only essential to life itself but to the quality of life including body wide repair, maintenance, and performance.
Herbal Strategies for supporting or improving respiratory system and functioning include: using mullein tea and mullein stoops, hot onion poultices, black seed, blackwalnut “supports the immune system and normal tissue repair processes and supports healthy inflammation. A research study evaluated the protective effects of black walnut against cigarette smoke extract-induced lung toxicities in rats, demonstrating significantly increased levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) and showing high free radical scavenging potential as an antioxidant” [Biotics Research Blog] anti-parasitic that can also benefit lungs. Olive leaf can support resistance to viral and other pathogenic susceptibility. Osha, and elecampane help condition the lungs while plantain, wild cherry bark, slippery elm and marshmallow soothe the lining of the lungs. Once again, many of these herbs can be found in Gaia’s Mighty Lungs or Herbs, Etc’s Lung Tonic formulas Turkey tail and Cordyceps mushrooms can support oxygenation and adrenal function, which play respective roles in the functional strength of organs in general and the lungs in particular.
For natural substances that are a bit harder to come by supplements are available: NAC, and glutathione help protect mitochondria rich cells of the liver and lungs which mutually support each other’s functions and repair. Quercetin, a bioflavonoid found in large quantities in red onions that can help the breathing passages’ capillary integrity and act as a respiratory anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. While bromelain aids in thinning mucus and promotes respiratory elasticity, flax and/or fish oils lubricate respiratory tissue and act as respiratory anti-inflammatories as do turmeric or a stronger Ayurvedic turmeric analog called khella. A formula that contains a combination of most of these is Just Breath by Bluebonnet.
The lungs can most sustainably benefit from dietary support: members of the Sulphur and quercetin rich allium family, carotenoid rich foods help repair and lubricate respiratory tissue and whose antioxidants help protect sensitive and delicate respiratory tissue from cellular damage. Chlorophyll rich greens and superfoods like wheat or barley grass and chlorella can add valuable antioxidants and detoxifying and therapeutic micronutrients rarely found as concentrated in other foods
Finally, there is Aromatherapy which presents the most direct route to the lungs and breathing apparatus: Edgar Cayce recommended compounds containing pine, eucalyptus, and balsam in an alcohol base for inhalation to help purify lung tissue, thin mucous and expand and stimulate lung cells. More currently these oils can be diffused and lemon and frankincense can be added to act as antiseptics, bronchodilators, and respiratory anti-inflammatory. Many of these can be used as salves on the chest such as pure remedy’s eucalyptus chest rub, or badger company's aromatic chest rub which, in addition to eucalyptus contains ginger, tea tree (overuse of this in young males can lead to an estrogen imbalances and should do be used cautiously) and lavender - which can help relax the chest muscles, bronchioles and diaphragm. Salves and topicals are especially good for treatment during rest or sleep.
Remember, the body can live without food for about 3 weeks, without water for about 3 days, and without air for only 3 minutes.