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3 Ways to Protect and Heal Your Lungs After Prolonged Smoke Exposure

Breathe Deep

I know we are all hoping that the worst of the smokey days are over this season in the Rogue Valley. I personally have never been so happy to see the blue skies these past couple of days. This week I would like to talk about herbs and supplements that can help protect and heal our lungs after this prolonged smoke exposure. If you are having significant lung symptoms including shortness of breath, wheezing or coughing, please call the office (541-210-5687) to make an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. Also, please refer to Dr. Duncan’s blog from last week.

Herbs for Lung Health

I can’t speak enough about the wonder and benefit of herbs. If you work with me in the clinic there is a good chance that some time or another you will be taking herbs to heal what ails you. The following are some amazing herbs that target lung health:

  1. Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Mullein is indicated for dry, harsh, hacking coughs, and weak lungs. It is also helpful to the kidney and nervous system. The flowers of this plant are soothing and coat the lungs, while the leaves are more astringent and expectorant, helping the lungs to expel unwanted particles that have been inhaled. Mullein is typically used for hoarseness, coughs, bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory conditions. This wonderful herb can be enjoyed as a tea by placing 1 teaspoon into 1 cup of hot water, or in combination with other lung loving herbs in the form of a tincture.

  1. Yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum)

This herb is sticky, sweet and aromatic. Yerba santa is primarily used for colds, laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma, hay fever and any condition where there is a dry cough.

  1. Elecampane (Inula helenium)

Inula is an expectorant (helps get the junk out), an anti-inflammatory and tones the lungs. This herb is especially helpful for irritated lungs and chronic coughs, and commonly prescribed for chronic bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma and emphysema.

  1. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Licorice helps modulate the immune system and is soothing to mucus membranes. This herb can help calm and sooth the lining of the lungs for quicker healing. Licorice also has antibacterial and antiviral properties, which may be beneficial if there is any concern about an infection after lung inflammation. A note about licorice: Please consult a doctor before taking if you have high blood pressure.

Supplements for Lung Health

  1. N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

NAC is used by the body to make glutathione and easily absorbed in the GI tract. The benefits of glutathione are vast, as it is an antioxidant found in every cell of our body. After significant toxin exposure, taking NAC to increase glutathione can help our body process and expel unwanted toxins from the body, including inhaled particulates. NAC is very safe to take and I recommend 1200mg daily.

Nutrition for Lung Health

We can’t forget that food is medicine, and how we eat can affect how our bodies adapt and heal to environmental stresses. First, eat a variety of plant-based foods to load up on powerful phytonutrients, which help cleanse the body and keep it running optimally. Certain foods can be extra helpful after all the smoke exposure and those include:

  1. Garlic:
    a. Has various anti-inflammatory properties along with a high level of allicin. This helps to fight infections and reduces inflammation.
  2. Ginger:
    a. Ginger will help to clear your lungs thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. You can add ginger to various dishes, as it is a widely used herb. You can also use it to prepare ginger root tea blended with some lemon. This helps a great deal to remove toxins from the respiratory tract.
  3. Turmeric:
    a. Just like ginger and garlic, this spice is great for your lungs due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
  4. Apples
    a. Packed with flavonoids, vitamin E and vitamin C, apples have been studied for their beneficial effects on the lungs. Eating 3 or more a week have been shown to help decrease asthmatic attacks.
  5. Water!!!
    a. Water plays a huge role in health and is the base of any cleansing action. Pure, clean water is essential to keeping blood flowing to and from the lungs. It also keeps our lungs hydrated and increases healthy mucus production.

Here’s to blue skies and fresh air ahead!
Yours in Health,
Dr. Sonja Halsey

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Holiday Comfort Treats

Christmas is just days after the winter solstice, which is the shortest day, and longest night, of the year. By Christmas, we’ve entered wintertime and our stores of energy from the sun and fresh foods are beginning to run low. This time of year can also be stressful, for the many reasons of which we are all aware.

Almost all of us start looking for comfort from outside of ourselves. And when we start looking for external comfort, that often involves food. And when comfort food is involved, sugar and flour seem to take the stage. The problem is, hollow foods made of processed sugar and flour are only going to lead to further depletion and physical stress.

So, here are some nutrient-dense, heart-warming, super comforting recipes to try out, for you and yours. Cheers to happy, comforting and truly satisfying holidays!

Chai Tea

The following recipe uses all ground spices for simplicity…

1 Tbs              Cinnamon
1 Tbs              Turmeric
1 Tbs              Ginger
2 tsp              Black pepper
1 tsp               Cloves
1 tsp               Nutmeg
1 tsp               Cardamom
¼ C                 Loose leaf rooibos tea, or 4 rooibos teabags
½ gallon         Water

  1. Combine all ingredients in a lidded pot and bring to a boil
  2. Simmer for 15 more minutes
  3. Strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth
  4. Add desired milk and/or sweeteners

For an extra special treat:
Blend tea with sweetener, desired milk, and a little ghee or butter. Whir in a blender until frothy. Sprinkle with turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper. Take a break, you deserve it!

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

4                      Ripe avocados
½ C                 Coconut oil, melted
½ C                 Honey
½ C                 Cocoa powder

  1. Blend Avocados and oil until smooth
  2. Add honey & cocoa powder and blend until smooth
  3. Chill for 1+ hours
  4. Garnish with fresh berries, if you would like that
  5. Enjoy!

Nutrient-Dense Cookies

1 ¾ C              Almond Flour
½ C                Arrow Root Flour
¼ C                Coconut Flour
½ tsp              Sea salt
1 tsp               Baking soda
1                     Egg
½ C                Honey
½ C                Coconut oil or butter, melted

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor
  2. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 1+ hours
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°
  4. Optional: Get creative! You can separate the dough and add different ingredients as desired. This recipe is really flexible! Add some cocoa powder, peanut butter, chopped nuts, cinnamon & ginger, etc. to make any kind of cookie you would like
  5. Divide the dough into 1 Tablespoon portions. Roll into balls and flatten slightly (or make them into any shape you want!)
  6. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes, allowing the cookies to become golden brown on the bottom and edges

This blog was written by Siskiyou Vital Medicine resident nutritionist Stacie Bailey. She has formal training as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and as a GAPS Practitioner. Stacie has extensive experience working with gut healing diets and creating delicious gut healing recipes. She works in the world of nutrition from the ground up as an organic gardener, certified nutritionist, fresh food chef, fermentation artist, and real food advocate & educator. 

Stacie’s focus as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, GAPS Practitioner, and chef is directed toward the digestive system, the roots of our health. Digestive health is foundational to overall health, and focusing attention here results in thorough, lasting improvements in health. Approaching health foundationally, from the roots up, inspires a lifestyle change that brings us closer to the earth, our community and ourselves. Stacie provides the guidance, support and recipes needed to enact these lasting nutritional habit changes. After all, a nourished belly makes a happy life.

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The Dirt on Building a Robust Immune System

Well folks it’s that time of year when your kids are sniffling, co-workers are sneezing, and you’re just hoping to get through the next few months unscathed. Yep, it’s flu season and resistance seems futile. So what is your flu season plan? How are you going to protect yourself and if you get the flu (aka the crud), how will you reduce the severity and shorten the time you feel like sh#%*t? Luckily, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help prevent, fight it if you have to, and detox from the flu. 

Prevention is key and it starts with avoidance. If you’re imagining yourself isolated from friends, school, work, or family for a few days you’re correct. Because not exposing yourself is about the only sure way you won’t contract the flu. If you must be around those who are ill, consider washing your hands frequently and diffusing essential oils in common areas. “Thieves oil” and “On guard” are great antimicrobial blends that smell nice, too.  

If you do become ill and have to fight, fortify your body’s terrain, bolster your immune system, and optimize your detoxification ability. To fortify your terrain, use skin moisturizers, keep your mucous membranes moist, take probiotics with meals, and eat nourishing foods like chicken broth seasoned with turmeric, chives, and salt. Oh, and don’t be afraid to get dirty or even give your dog a kiss. Doing so will actually make you more resistant to “bugs”. Bolstering your immune system can be achieved by introducing medicinal mushrooms like chaga and reishi into your diet and taking breaks to meditate and rest.  Finally, optimize your detox ability by having bitter foods that stimulate digestion at the start of meals. I like mustard greens or arugula. You’ll also want to stay hydrated with pure water that hasn’t been overly processed. Dr. Willard’s water formula is a great addition as it can rejuvenate tired, processed water.  

These tips really only skim the surface of what you can do to protect yourself. I’d like to share more with you now but I’m going to take my own advice and get some rest. Come visit us at Siskiyou Vital Medicine to learn more. 

Be Well.

Dr. Duncan

Dr. Duncan received his Undergraduate Degree, Bachelor of Science in Biology, from the University of Houston-Downtown. He earned his Doctorate Degree as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University and his Post Graduate Training in Prolotherapy, Neurotherapy, and Ozone therapy from the Klinghardt Academy. He is also trained in Anthroposophical Medicine. His medical approach is rooted in Vitalism, a system of medicine that focuses on cure using the body’s own innate ability to heal. He employs time tested natural therapies as well as the latest medical technology to develop sustainable health plans that empower his patients to take control of their health. It is his intention to make complex medicine simple, reconnect people with their bodies, and teach his patients the foundations of health.