8 Natural Ways To Cleanse Your Lungs
The lungs are the major organ of the respiratory system and responsible for every breath you take. Without air, you die in minutes, yet lung health is so often overlooked. Since the lungs are soft, spongy, naturally self-cleansing organs, it doesn’t take doctor-level expertise to improve the overall health of your respiratory system. Try these tips to help cleanse your lungs naturally and prevent respiratory disease, the sixth leading cause of death for adults in the U.S.
1. Exercise Regularly
Exercise kicks the heart-lung system of your body into high gear, creating healthy oxygen-rich blood to nourish every cell of your body.
The lungs perform two primary functions — they supply the body with oxygen through inhalation, and remove carbon dioxide through exhalation. When you exercise, the lungs pull oxygen into your blood and carry it to the heart. The heart receives the oxygen-rich blood, called hemoglobin, and pumps it out to the different organs and muscles in your body.
When you’re running your leg muscles use oxygen to break down glucose and convert it into energy so you can move one leg after another. As a result of this process, the muscles create waste in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 travels back to the lungs and is released from the body through exhalation.
The more intense the workout, the higher the body’s demand for oxygen. How does the respiratory system respond so you don’t run out of breath? By taking deeper and faster inhales. To match the lungs’ pace, the heart pumps blood faster to squeeze out more hemoglobin with every beat. Like clockwork, the heart-lung system rhythmically cleans stale air in the lungs and releases it from the body through exercise.
2. Catch Fresh Outdoor Air
Each year, trees remove an estimated 711,000 metric tons of air pollution, so make time to catch some fresh outdoor air around trees every day.
Plants and trees engage in cellular respiration through a process called photosynthesis. It’s how they survive — similar to breathing for humans. But instead of oxygen, they capture and process carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to create energy. The byproduct of this process is oxygen, which is released into the environment for humans to breathe.
When you are close to nature, the air you breathe has been filtered by plants and trees, which function as natural air purifiers. They absorb carbon dioxide and other air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter, creating fresher air around them. Spending time in parks or forests with many trees is a natural way to cleanse your lungs.
3. Do Steam Therapy
Think of steaming as similar to a warm compress that relieves pain and inflamed muscles.
As a therapy, steam carries moist air into the lungs to ease the dryness and swelling of the airways causing clogged sinuses, dry cough and difficulty breathing. The warm air relaxes the airway muscles and tissue, making breathing easy. Try boiling a pot of water and remove it from the stove. Then allow the steam to rise while you inhale directly over the pot. Drape a towel over your head and the pot to intensify the treatment, or add one drop of anti-viral, anti-bacterial oil of oregano to the water.
When you have inflammation, your airways are dry, irritated, and blocked with mucus. However, when you cough, phlegm clings to the dry airways. Steam is an expectorant, like a type of cough medicine that relieves symptoms of a stuffy nose, sinus infection and cold. When you inhale steam, the binds of the mucus to the airways loosen up, resulting in coughing with the release of phlegm.
4. Use Chest Rubs
Chest rub is another home remedy to relieve nasal congestion and allow more air getting into your lungs.
Most of chest rub products are made of essential oils like camphor, menthol and eucalyptus, which like steam therapy, moisturize dry airways and thin out the phlegm so you can cough it out. Coughing is the body’s automatic response to expel the germs, dust and lung irritants out of the body and at a speed of nearly 50 miles per hour. Chest rubs don’t treat coughing. They provide nasal and cough relief while your immune system fights the infection.
5. Do Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises can help improve the symptoms of lung conditions, such as shortness of breath and increased mucus production.
Deep breathing is essential for lung health, but inhalation becomes relatively shallow while the body is at rest with simple relaxation and throughout most of the day. With this kind of shallow breathing, air intake is inadequate and oxygen doesn’t reach the bottom of the lungs. Consequently, the diaphragm’s range of motion also decreases, causing fatigue, which may worsen respiratory problems.
Deep breathing pulls more oxygen into the body through all the corners of the lungs. It fully engages and strengthens the diaphragm. Deep breathing exercise trains the lungs and diaphragm to function optimally. When you do it, the fresh oxygen supply will replace accumulated stale air in the lungs.
Do this if you find it hard to breathe. Its purpose is to slow your rate of breathing.
- Sit or lie down and relax your body.
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to a slow count of two.
- Purse your lips as if blowing out a candle. Exhale the air out while slowly counting up to four.
- Repeat until you feel relaxed.
This breathing exercise replaces trapped stale air in the lungs.
- Sit or lie down and relax your body.
- Place your right hand on your chest and your left on your belly.
- Inhale air slowly and feel it moving downward to your inflating belly.
- Exhale through the mouth. Feel your belly relax and contract as air leaves your body.
- Repeat until you feel better.
6. Purify Indoor Air
Using air purifiers can decrease pollutants by 18%, considerably reducing the concentration of unhealth air around you indoors.
Inhaling pollutants can irritate the airways and trigger various symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, chest pain and asthma. Tiny pollutants can also penetrate the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body, leading to inflammation and cancer.
Exposure to indoor air hazards, especially radon and secondhand smoke, can increase the risk of lung cancer. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S. Installing an air purifier can help you control the quality of the air you breathe.
7. Drink Healthy Beverages
An analysis of various case-control studies including lung cancer patients and healthy controls revealed that consuming 7.5 grams of green tea daily reduces lung cancer risk.
Green tea has two active anticancer components — epigallocatechin gallate and theabrownin. In both animal and in vitro studies, both components effectively killed and stopped the progression and growth of cancer cells.
Options for healthy drinks include:
- Black tea
- Turmeric tea
- Ginger tea
- Blueberry juice
- Elderberry tea
- Pomegranate juice
8. Eat A Lung-Healthy Diet
In one study involving 6,000 individuals, people who ate foods rich in vitamins A and E and took vitamin D supplements were the least likely to complain about lung conditions, such as asthma, colds and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
A balanced diet is one of the pillars of health. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that, when present in high concentrations in the lungs, can neutralize the oxidative stress induced by pollutants. Vitamin D has the same function — it has protective effects against inflammation, including anti-inflammatory effects on cigarette smoke.
Other nutrients that can help lower the risk of respiratory diseases include minerals like iron, zinc, selenium and magnesium, flavonoids, and fatty acids.
Examples of foods with these nutrient profiles include:
- Leafy greens
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
These foods have anti-inflammatory benefits that help activate the body’s immune response against infections and protect the respiratory system.
Mia Barnes is a freelance writer and researcher with a passion for holistic healing and healthy living. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the online publication, Body+Mind magazine