How to Clear Your Lungs After Smoking

Updated February 21, 2017

One of the biggest health benefits of quitting smoking is the increased lung capability that former smokers regain after constantly polluting their lungs with tar and other damaging chemicals. While the lungs naturally clear themselves, there are certain strategies a former smoke can employ to expedite the process, including consuming certain foods and trying different holistic techniques. However, in the end, the best way to ensure that your lungs clear after smoking is to continue to live a smoke-free lifestyle.

Eat garlic. One of the best foods to consume when you are trying to cleanse your lungs post-smoking is garlic, either raw or in food. Garlic can help clear excessive mucus in the sinus cavities after the mucus has exited the lungs; mucus coming from the lungs is actually a positive as the mucus helps expel the toxins from smoking, but it can become a nuisance in the sinus cavities. Garlic also helps move poisons from smoking out your skin's pores. Other spices, such as horseradish and ginger, also can produce effects similar to garlic.

However, garlic, spices and other natural medicines have not been scientifically proven to work and should not be treated as definitive methods for cleansing the lungs.

Avoid other air irritants as much as possible. This can include air filters, chemical-based cleaners, car exhaust and pollen. Modern society has countless possible air irritants, but a recovering smoker should try to avoid putting additional strain on his lungs because his body is already working to clear his lungs from the smoking damage.

Wait. The body eventually naturally cleanses itself of the toxins left behind from smoking. Most people feel their former lung strength return within about two weeks, and the coughing and mucus production that comes after quitting normally resolves within a month.


-- Cut back on foods that produce additional mucus, especially dairy products. The body will produce the mucus necessary to cleanse the toxins from smoking; additional mucus production will only cause the lungs to work harder and less effectively.

Things You'll Need

  • Pineapple
  • Garlic
  • Nasal wash
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About the Author

Drew Lichtenstein started writing in 2008. His articles have appeared in the collegiate newspaper "The Red and Black." He holds a Master of Arts in comparative literature from the University of Georgia.