The Covid 19 pandemic has certainly highlighted the importance of two organs that we often thought little about, mistreating them and exposing them to pollutants, the lungs. Healthy lungs support us, guarantee breath and energy, in short, they are life. So let's see how to take care of our lungs, also given the approach of the colder season that brings with it diseases and infections that can undermine the health of our respiratory tract. Herbs, yoga and lifestyles help us to soothe the lungs, reduce the risk of cellular degeneration and increase lung capacity.
Eucalyptus for the well-being of the respiratory tract
The eucalyptus leaves, balsamic and expectorant, contain precious essential oils for the well-being not only of the upper but also of the lower respiratory tract. In fact, even the lungs benefit from the action of eucalyptus, which reduces inflammation, thus enhancing the natural defenses, and increases pulmonary clearance, which is the ability of the lungs to free itself from pathogens (Yadav et al, PLoS One, 2017). To benefit from the properties of eucalyptus, you can spread the essence around the house, 3-4 drops of essential oil per room, using an essence burner. Alternatively, you can also drink a herbal tea with eucalyptus leaves, which you can find in specialized shops. Bring a cup of water to a boil, remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of dried plant, let it brew for ten minutes, then filter and drink.
African geranium for healthy lungs
Extracts of the roots of African geranium, scientific name Pelargonium sidoides, have shown a protective action on the respiratory tract. In particular, these extracts are useful in case of rhinosinusitis, colds but also cough and bronchitis. Not only that, this extract has also proved useful in case of chronic inflammation of the lungs, such as in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, reducing the frequency of exacerbations. In addition, African geranium has made it possible to reduce asthma attacks, even in children (Witte et al, J Mol Med, 2020). It is believed that the African geranium, thanks to its polyphenol content, acts by increasing the body's defenses against external threats. In particular, extracts of African geranium roots have been shown to hinder the adhesion and proliferation of viruses and bacteria and to stimulate the release of substances, IL 17 and IL 22, responsible for the protection and regeneration of various barrier organs, such as skin, the gastrointestinal system and, indeed, the lungs (Eyerich et al, Eur J Immunol, 2017 - Witte et al, J Mol Med, 2020). You can find the mother tincture of African geranium roots in specialized shops and online. Take 40 drops once a day in water.
Beware of secondhand smoke and pollution
Not smoking isn't enough for the health of our lungs. Even non-smokers should pay attention to two dangerous conditions, given by passive smoking and air pollution. In fact, a very recent study presented at the ESMO Congress 2022, the meeting of the European Society of Medical Oncology, showed that the increasing exposure to fine particles, particulate matter 2.5, activates a series of reactions in non-smokers with the EGFR gene mutation that increase the risk of developing lung cell degeneration (Swanton et al, ESMO Congress 2022). Unless we undergo specific tests, we cannot know if we have this alteration. Therefore, it is a good idea to take precautions not to expose ourselves to excessive pollution, such as avoiding walking or jogging in the busiest streets and during rush hours, if you live near busy roads, ventilate when traffic decreases, leave your shoes outside the home. Don't miss out on vegetables and fruits rich in beta cryptoxanthin, a pigment with an antioxidant action that, as shown by a scientific study by Tufts University, reduces the risk of lung cancer. Beta cryptoxanthin is contained in red pepper, mandarins, oranges, peaches and squash (Iskandar et al, Cancer Prev Res, 2016). Then, as mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph, pay attention to passive smoking, a danger that is often underestimated. In fact, constant exposure to secondhand smoke alters the mechanisms of air passage, lung elasticity and can cause airway obstructions, as well as an increase in the risk of lung cancer (Gupta et al, Tob Induc Dis, 2003 ).
Yoga breathing called bhramari pranayama, or bee breath, has been shown to be very useful for lung health. In fact, this type of breathing, if practiced consistently, has been shown to reduce inflammation markers and to increase lung capacity. Not only that, the body also benefits from this technique, since it is stronger and able to adapt to stress (Trivedi et al, J Ayurveda Integr Med, 2021). The breath of the bee is practiced in this way. Sit in a position that is comfortable for you, open your shoulders and chest. Inhale with your nose, then, on the exhale, open your mouth slightly and emit a hum similar to that of a bee. Extend the exhalation, then stop, take a short break, close your mouth and inhale again through the nose, you can repeat for 5-10 cycles.