Our hearts go out to everyone in Malibu, Thousand Oaks, and beyond who have been directly affected by this week’s devastating wildfires. We’ve been so moved to see the community rise to action – friends housing friends, strangers moving left behind animals to safety, the whole city providing emergency supplies to the LAFD and displaced families.
We encourage everyone to consider how they can support the displaced. We are paying attention to the LAFD Foundation, One Love Malibu and Baby2Baby for ways to help. Remember that after the dramatic, attention-getting fires are put out, there will be needs for months and months. Consider focusing on one area of need and focusing longer-term support there with your family, business or community.
All that said, prevalent needs we all have during the fires are immune and respiratory health. Don’t take it lightly. We spoke on this during the last fire and encourage everyone to take extra steps to protect their immunity and lung health. Have an opportunity to work directly with firefighters or victims? Consider brewing up a huge pot of mint tea or reaching out to our herbal contributor, Anima Mundi Herbs who is generously donating lung tea to those who need it now! We suggest leaving a donation! Her unusual Herbal Smoke is pictured above: “a blend of relaxing and euphoric herbs known to decongest and clear phlegm from the lungs. If used moderately, smoking medicinal herbs can be a highly effective method to clear bacterial build and assist the sinuses.”
Here’s what you should know and a few things you can do…
How To Take Care of Your Lungs During the Fires
According to the Scarlett Sage, “Stress and smoke have a major effect on our well-being. Breathing in particulate matter from smoke can exacerbate asthma and heart disease, and cause respiratory irritation and shortness of breath. Children, the elderly, and animals are particularly susceptible to smoke inhalation. Trauma can cause nervous instability, insomnia, and deep stress on your immune system and your flight or fight response (endocrine system).”
With that in mind, here are herbs she recommends for dealing with the health issues and trauma of fires – many of them, simple to prepare teas:
Peppermint: Even a cheap box of tea can be used (use 3 or 4 bags to get a stronger dose). Herbs high in aromatic essential oils can help create barriers to decrease inflammation. This is wonderful for opening the bronchials, increasing lung capacity. These oils can help decrease muscle pain and spasm (you can use the oil externally for muscle pain support) and aids in digestion – it’s been known for IBS. Peppermint (Mentha peperita) is high in rosmarinic acid which is an anti-inflammatory. Please do not use peppermint in high doses if you have acid reflux, or GERD.
Chamomile: Many children are affected by these fires, and chamomile is my favorite children’s herb. You can make a strong tea of chamomile (again, cheap tea bags okay), to help them calm down. If you steep chamomile for a long time it is slightly bitter which will aid in digestions. A strong cup of tea added to a bath will help reduce stress, and the tiniest bit of essential oil in chamomile will help with wound washes and eye irritation in smokey air. *For an eye wash, make a cup of tea for yourself, take out the tea bag let cool down. Rub it gently over your eyes, squeezing a bit of the tea out into the eyes. This works in first aid situations and chronic eye care.
Turmeric: Turmeric (Cucuma longa) is wonderful for reducing overall toxicity through it’s antioxidant compounds and reduces inflammation. This herb can be taken in very high doses in dried form (spice), and in extract or tea. Curcumin, which is the active constituent in turmeric, is known to reduce heart disease and increase brain function.
Licorice Root: Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a demulcent (contains goo) and is wonderful in protecting the mucous membranes from excessive particulate matter. Adding licorice root to any tea will make it sweeter, sometimes helping with the compliance issue of many herbal teas. Sometimes you can find this in celestial seasonings teas, Traditional Medicinals, or Good Earth tea has licorice root as an ingredient. *Note, this herb has been known to increase blood pressure when taken in large amounts.
Marshmallow Root: Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) is also high in demulcents, and will help protect those sensitive mucous membranes. This herb is wonderful at cooling and soothing the entire system, especially if there is constipation associated with high stress.
Lavender: Lavender (Lavendula spp.) has an affinity for the lungs, and reducing anxiety and stress. If you can muster up some dried lavender, make a strong tea (1 tsp. / cup of hot water) add it to your bath and drink a little. If you have access to lavender essential oil, add a couple of drops on your hands and rub it on your chest and your feet to aid in relaxation and breathing capacity. Lavender is also a beautiful first-aid remedy for cuts and wounds.
Echinacea: Echinacea is touted as an immune-stimulating herb, which it is, but it’s also wonderful at reducing inflammation in the entire body, decreasing chances of getting sick while under stress. Echinacea is also a good first-aid for cuts and bites of any kind. Take this in tincture, tea, or capsules.
Reishi: Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is used for boosting the immune system, and aids in lung conditions including asthma and bronchitis. This is a herb that I recommend for long-term use, but short-term reishi can do a lot to help reduce chances and signs of asthma. Reishi has adaptogenic qualities, therefore it will help reduce the heightened stress response in the body. Reishi is also studied for decreasing heart disease and contributing conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and one of the best known herbs for cancer. Take this in tincture (liquid) or capsule form.
Lobelia: Lobelia inflata is a bronchial dialator and anti-spasmodic, helping with bronchitis, pnuemonia, or general cough. This herb should be taken in medium-low dose in tincture form (recommended dose on bottle) or tea in small amounts.
Here’s a Holistic Guide to Your Health After the California Wildfires.