The lungs are the organ responsible for bringing oxygen to the blood. A poor diet combined with living in a polluted area, shallow breathing and smoking can make our lungs less efficient. By supporting the lungs with herbs and by learning breathing techniques, we can effectively cleanse the lungs so they function better.
Lung support remedies are common in Ayurvedic, Chinese, American Indian and European traditional medicine. Each tradition has different herbal combinations to support the lungs. Lung cleansing is usually prescribed once or twice per year. With increased air pollution in many areas, lung cleansing is more important than in earlier times.
Learning deep breathing is an important aspect of lung detoxification. Of course, do your breathing exercises in an unpolluted area. An easy breathing exercise is to sit quietly, back straight and breathe while counting to four slowly. Hold for four counts and then try to breathe out for eight counts. Practicing this for a few minutes each day will not only strengthen the lungs but aid in relaxation and stress relief, according to Dr. Andrew Weil in this book Eight Weeks to Optimum Health.
Detox Herbs: Rosemary
Rosemary is used as an essential oil and an herb for lung support. Because of its 24 antioxidants, it opens capillaries increasing oxygen flow to the blood, according to Dr. James Duke in The Green Pharmacy. Rosemary is included in several lung cleansing blends because it might also have an effect on relaxing smooth muscle tissue in the lungs. The essential oil will open lung airways constricted by histamines.
Detox Herbs: Mullein and Lobelia
Mullein will soothe the lining of the lungs, and the saponins could be the reason it is considered an expectorant, according to Dr. James Duke. Though there is little scientific evidence for mullein, it is considered safe, and is a traditional European folk remedy. Lobelia is a traditional American Indian remedy whose nickname is asthma weed. Unfortunately, it is highly toxic, according to Dr. Duke. Only use in close consultation with a qualified herbal doctor.
Other Detox Herbs
Chrysanthemum combined with honeysuckle is frequently used in Chinese medicine to nourish lung tissue, clear toxins and inhibit bacteria growth. They are both expectorants, so will help you get rid of phlegm. Lomatium is a widely used herb for lung support, but it can cause rashes, as reported in Medical Herbalism.
Black cumin, or nigella, is a traditional herb said by the prophet Muhammad to cure anything, according to Dr. Duke. Scientists have begun to study the herb's effectiveness and there have been many conclusive studies, such as one done in 2009 published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Among other uses, it is helpful as a lung support.
According to Herb Reference by Mike Adams, foods that support the lungs include radishes, almonds, olives, winter squash, onions, grapes, mustard greens, water chestnuts and watercress. Avoiding grains and dairy products is also suggested by Certified Nutritional Counselor Diane Stanton. Broccoli might help support lung function. Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, kale and cabbage, have a positive effect on lung function, according to a September 2008 report in the BBC news.
Detoxifying the lungs starts with breathing clean air, and breathing deeply. Any herbs used to support lung function should be used in consultation with a doctor trained in herbal medicine. Including as many cruciferous, green vegetables as possible in the diet is never a bad idea, and might actually help to detoxify, support and heal the lungs.
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