Lungs work for us tirelessly in the background, filtering out pollutants and carcinogens from the air, and providing our body with life-sustaining oxygen. As a healthy person, I admit my lungs are often taken for granted until something goes wrong—when I get sick or when my the air around me becomes suffocating.
There are a few critical times you can cleanse the lungs by supporting them with nutrients and herbs that help the invisible hairs repel toxins from the one-way road that is our lungs.
1. Seasonal or Weather Changes
At every turn of season, people tend 'catch something'. During spring time there are more allergens in the air, irritating the upper respiratory tract. Sorry to break it to you friends, fall is right around the corner. The brisk air slows down our lungs’ natural detoxification system, and low humidity will dry the immune cell packed mucous lining of our respiratory tract, making us more susceptible to pathogens. Fog can also be common when seasons shift, trapping pathogens closer to the ground.
2. Exposure To Higher Than Normal Levels of Environmental Pollutants
The following are just a few pollutants that add stress to our lungs, and decrease their detoxification function. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified outdoor air pollution as a cancer-causing agent (carcinogen).
3. Fire Smoke
Here in BC, forest fires in the summer saturate the air with micro particles that can get trapped deep in the lungs, causing irritation and compromised lung function.
4. Car Exhaust
If you live close to an arterial road, highway, or a stop sign, engine exhaust can increase your exposure to heavy metals (e.g. nickel, cadmium etc.) and air pollutants. I strongly recommend to get a heavy metal test if you live or work close to engine exhaust.
As of 2016, 4.2 million deaths worldwide resulted from air pollution. The culprit is small particulate matter, 2.5 microns or less in diameter, which can get deeply embedded into the lungs. These particulates can also penetrate the lung barrier and circulate in the blood, causing chronic respiratory infections, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. It breaks my heart to see my nieces and nephews who are mostly under 10 years of age, suffer from respiratory infections multiple times in a year. It's very important to purify your lungs if you travel to China, some parts of South-East Asia, and any place with poor air quality.
Scary stats aside, our body is extremely intelligent and resilient. I have 3 easy recipes that will help you purify your lungs.
Recipe 1: Easy-Breathy Turmeric Latte
I have to say this one is the best turmeric lattes I've ever made. Try this out for yourself, and see if you can outdo mine! Share your creations on Instagram and tag me @sweetandsavourylife.
What is Pei Pa Koa (Loquat fruit herbal syrup)?
This cooling herbal syrup it's just way too gourmet to be used only as medicine. The two main ingredients are my all time favourite nutritive herbals that has a long history in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Cuisine.
1. Tendrilleaf Fritillary Bulb is used to restore the mucous lining of the upper respiratory tract. These tiny white seeds are cooling and slightly bitter sweet.
2. Loquat has an effect on histamine levels and calms the respiratory tract. This fruit is also full of antioxidants that encourages liver detoxification and the healing of our mucosa lining.
Note: this recipe can be too cooling for young children. You can use organic elderberry syrup instead.
Add all ingredients into the blender and blend until the latte is frothy.
Tip: Add the syrup last to prevent sticking to the bottom.
You can do it iced too!
Simply swap out the coconut oil and use a liquid oil. I love Udo’s 3.6.9 oil with algae DHA but hazelnut oil and avocado oil would also work well! Of course, instead of hot water, use cold water and add a couple ice cubes and shake well.
Recipe 2: Monk Fruit Iced Tea
Buddhist monks have been using monk fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii) for thousands of years to eliminate phlegm and soothe irritated throat from long hours of chanting. My grandmother would make this every cold and flu season to help my with my sore throat as a child. This herb made an unforgettable impression on me when grandmother was quick to correct my rudeness every time when I point out the likeness of this herb to a Buddhist monk's clean shaven head. The fruit has a mild liquorice flavour and contains a type of sugar called mogrosides, which is processed in the body differently and does not raise blood sugar levels. Mogrosides also happen to be a potent antioxidant that protect our cells from damage. You can find dried monk fruit neatly displayed in glass jars at most TCM stores.
Monk Fruit Iced Tea
Crack the monk fruit into halves and place it into the mason jar
Bring the water to a boil and pour it into the jar.
Tip 1: Do not remove the monk fruit, as the tea will become a light syrup.
Once cooled completely, keep refrigerated for up to a week.
Tip 2: I recommend sealing the jar and leaving it on the counter overnight to cool.
How To Use
Dilute 1/2 cup of monk fruit syrup in 2 cups of water. It could be hot or cold depending on your preference.
Recipe 3: Lung Purifier Herbal Blend
This sweet and soothing blend is great to enjoy as a healing herbal tea throughout the day to keep a scratchy throat at bay.
Lung Purifier Tea
The flowers taste slightly like liquorice and it's very soothing to the lungs.
It's slightly grassy and extremely slippery. It's rich in mucilage great for repairing the mucous membrane in the upper respiratory tract.
It's slightly earthy and has a cooling and calming effect on inflamed tissue
1 part of each herb, mix well
Steep in hot water for 15 min and enjoy it with a little bit of honey
“Ambient (Outdoor) Air Quality and Health.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ambient-(outdoor)-air-quality-and-health.
Chen, W. J., et al. "The antioxidant activities of natural sweeteners, mogrosides, from fruits of Siraitia grosvenori." International journal of food sciences and nutrition 58.7 (2007): 548-556.
Harrison, Roy M., D. J. T. Smith, and A. J. Kibble. "What is responsible for the carcinogenicity of PM2. 5?." Occupational and environmental medicine 61.10 (2004): 799-805.
Outdoor air pollution a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths. [online] Available at: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/urban-health/news/news/2013/10/outdoor-air-pollution-a-leading-environmental-cause-of-cancer-deaths [Accessed 13 Aug. 2018].
“World Health Organization: Outdoor Air Pollution Causes Cancer.” American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/latest-news/world-health-organization-outdoor-air-pollution-causes-cancer.html.
WHO | Chapter 4. [online] Available at: http://www.who.int/whr/2002/chapter4/en/index8.html [Accessed 13 Aug. 2018].
Xu, Q., et al. "Antioxidant effect of mogrosides against oxidative stress induced by palmitic acid in mouse insulinoma NIT-1 cells." Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research 46.11 (2013): 949-955.