Lung health is a topic that many people don’t think about on a regular basis, yet it would probably be the first thing on our minds if something were to go wrong. Ever since I started my research into the topic of respiratory health, it really dawned on me how critically important it is to take care of your lungs. After all, there’s a reason why the lungs are called one of your “vital organs” – if they’re not healthy, it could be a threat to your very life.
As unbelievable as this sounds, the average person takes more than 6 million breaths per year according to the American Lung Association. This means that your respiratory system stays very busy on a daily basis, and your lungs are working 24/7 to keep you alive and healthy. With that kind of astronomical workload, it only makes sense to take care of it as best as you can.
I’m going to share some simple tips to help you take care of your lungs and overall respiratory system, but before I dig into them, I think it’s good to start off with a basic explanation of the respiratory system itself.
The Respiratory System and How It Works
Your respiratory system is made up of three main areas:
- The airways, which include your mouth, throat, windpipe, nose, sinuses, and bronchial tubes. Each one of these components has highly complex features that play a specific role in breathing and respiration. For example, your sinuses are responsible for regulating the humidity and temperature of inhaled air, and the hairs inside your nose act as a cleaning system for inhaled air as well.
- The lungs and blood vessels, which work together to take inhaled oxygen and transmit it into the bloodstream. Your lungs basically push the oxygen from inhaled air into the bloodstream via a network of blood vessels known as capillaries. This carries oxygen to every cell of your body, and in return, the cells exchange this oxygen for carbon dioxide, which is pushed back through the bloodstream and purged from the body via exhaled air.
- There are also important muscles and bones that are a part of the respiratory system. Your diaphragm is a strong muscular wall that separates your chest cavity from your abdominal cavity, and it helps you draw in air and expand your lungs. Your ribs are bones that have a little bit of flexibility, as they can move ever so slightly in order to help your lungs with the job of expanding and contracting.
This intricate, multi-faceted set of components is what makes up your respiratory system. When you add it all up, the basic job of your respiratory system is to take in fresh air to nourish your body, and then remove waste gases from your system. It does this over and over again, to the tune of roughly 16,000 breaths a day! This staggering fact alone is enough for anyone to see why we should pay attention to our lungs!
My Tips for Optimal Lung Health
Your lung capacity will naturally decline as you get older, but there are several things you can do to take care of your lungs and keep them healthy every day. Below are some simple yet highly effective tips to ensure optimal lung health.
1. Don’t smoke
You’ve probably heard this over and over again through various PSA’s on TV, but the message cannot be overemphasized. According to the American Lung Association, smoking cigarettes is the number-one cause of lung cancer, as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Cigarette smoke contains literally hundreds of harmful chemicals – many of which are known carcinogens – which can irritate the lungs and cause chronic inflammation or swelling that blocks the airways. This can trigger chronic bronchitis, producing the persistent cough so aptly named “smoker’s hack”. Not only that, but cigarette smoke literally deteriorates the tissue in your lungs, often setting the stage for cancerous cells to begin to form.
There are also a host of other related ailments that can be brought about by smoking, including premature wrinkling, leukoflakia (a.k.a. “smoker’s patch”), arthritis, peptic ulcers, tooth pain and decay, gastrointestinal difficulties, insomnia, headaches, and heart disease, just to name a few. I realize that quitting smoking is much easier said than done, but do your best to use every natural and medicinal aid at your disposal to help you in your fight – after all, your very life is on the line.
2. Exercise on a regular basis
Your lungs definitely get a regular workout as-is, but engaging in moderate to rigorous exercise will improve their capacity and efficiency of oxygen delivery even more. This is a win-win, because exercise helps so many other areas of your health as well.
3. Avoid exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution
Yes, this is another task that is easier said than done, but there are some things you can do to mitigate the amount of pollution you expose yourself to. For example, you can make your home and car smoke-free areas, and avoid getting in the way of second-hand smoke that you might be exposed to when you’re out and about.
Pay attention to smog alerts and other official air quality reports from your local government. Have your home tested for radon, which is a colorless and odorless gas that is emitted naturally by rocks and soil. This subtle gas that can infiltrate homes through poorly sealed basement floors, cracks in walls or foundations, and other openings. Asbestos is another silent killer you need to watch out for. It’s an invisible carcinogen found in many products used in the industrial and commercial industries during the 20th century. The exposure to asbestos puts you at risk of developing mesothelioma – a rare cancer that primarily develops in the lining of the lungs. Asbestos can be found in places built before 1980, so if you live in an older house, make sure to get it inspected! Avoid prolonged exposure to cleaning supplies and other household chemicals. In addition, consider purchasing a couple of indoor air purifiers to help clean the air of various spores, dust and pet dander that naturally floats around the house.
4. Practice breathing exercises
Deep breathing is a great way to “max out” the oxygenation of your blood. Just inhale slowly through your nose until you feel like your lungs are completely full, and then hold it for about 1 to 2 seconds. Now exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing as much air to escape as you can before repeating the cycle again. Perform this exercise for about 2 to 3 minutes at a time, and repeat at various times throughout the day.
5. Use essential oils to promote lung health
While herbal remedies have been used to heal lungs since long, using essential oils is also extremely beneficial for the lungs. For example, Eucalyptus oil, which is the most commonly used essential oil for healing lungs, is a potent antiseptic, expectorant and decongestant that can benefit and improve the entire respiratory system. It is possible to make a highly effective herb inhalation to clean and strengthen the lungs.
You can also inhale the steam of Bergamot or Peppermint to open up your bronchial passages and eliminate the presence of bacteria in your lungs. Just bring 2 to 3 cups of water to a boil, transfer to a glass bowl and add 5 to 10 drops of one of the above essential oil. Put a towel over your head, bring your face close to the bowl (not too close to burn yourself) and then start gently inhaling the steam. Just remember to keep your eyes closed to avoid burning or watering. You can repeat this up to 3 times a week for optimal and healthy lungs.
Now, lets dive deep into the world of essential oils and explore how they can be used effectively to improve your overall respiratory health.
Which Essential Oils Can Be Used For Healing The Lungs?
Keeping that in mind, here are some other essential oils you can use for healing lungs and keeping them healthy:
Peppermint Essential Oil
The expectorant qualities of Peppermint essential oil help in the treatment of upper respiratory congestion caused due to asthma, bronchitis, allergies, cold, flu etc. For the same reason, Peppermint essential oil is an essential ingredient in lung healing balms available on the market. In contrast to prescription drugs and OTC therapies, Peppermint essential oil is completely safe to use and does not cause any drowsiness or other adverse effects.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is one of the best essential oils to eliminate infection in lungs. Studies have proven that Lavender, when combined with Eucalyptus, can kill 70 percent of the staphylococcus bacteria present in the lungs.
Some Other Essential Oils That Can Be Useful To Heal Lungs
- Inhaling the steam of Eucalyptus, Bergamot and Peppermint can open up the bronchial passages and wipe out the bacterial infection present in the lungs.
- Blend of Anise, Eucalyptus and Peppermint can reduce coughing by reducing the brain’s reflex towards the cough. Cypress dries out persistent running nose.
An Effective Lung-Healing Essential Oil Blend/Recipe
- Eucalyptus Radiata
This blend of oils has enough strength to fight respiratory infections and diseases. Inhaling this blend can help alleviate signs and symptoms of tuberculosis, asthma and pneumonia.
How To Use Essential Oils For Best Possible Relief In Lung Healing?
Dilute the essential oil blend in a carrier oil and apply on the back, chest and the vita flex points of the feet. Application around the inner thighs can improve the circulation of blood in the lungs.
For fastest results, inhalation is the way to go. Here is how to do inhalation for best possible results:
- Add 2-3 cups water into a clear saucepan or a small pot. Bring this water to a boil.
- Add 10 to 15 drops of organic Eucalyptus essential oil into the boiling hot water and cover the saucepan with a lid. Turn off the burner.
- Remove the pan from the burner and bend your head over the pan with a towel covering your head: this helps make certain that the vapors are not lost in the air.
- Breathe in the Eucalyptus steam that emerges out after every 10-15 seconds. When the vapors are in, hold your breath for few seconds and then exhale. Do this for at least three times. If needed, more Eucalyptus drops can be added.
- Try to keep your eyes closed to avoid eye burning or watering.
- Both Marjoram and Eucalyptus make highly powerful inhalations. Therefore, avoid using both these oils together.
It is generally the case that ingesting essential oils is rarely needed. However, if ingestion is what you are going to do, use only the essential oils that are deemed appropriate for such use, i.e. they have to be edible therapeutic or organic grade essential oils. In addition, before ingesting essential oils, always consult a doctor. While some doctors recommend putting few drops of certain essential oils under the tongue to resolve a cough, in my experience, essential oils can best be used topically with proper dilution levels.
4. Use in a suppository
The easiest way to reach the lungs is through the colon. When using this method, the benefits reach the lungs within minutes. Put three drops of a suitable essential oil in a capsule and add carrier oil to fill it up to the brim. Castor is the best carrier oil to use, as it is very lubricating. The ideal essential oil to carrier oil ratio is 1% to 2%, which means 6 or 12 drops of essential oil to one ounce (30ml) of carrier oil respectively. If you intend to use this on a child, try first on yourself to make sure that it is comfortable. If the essential oil is properly diluted, it should not sting.
The Final Word
My dad battled with respiratory ailments in the last years of his life. Doctors said that there is nothing they can do for him, until I decided to take matters in my own hand and started using essential oils on him. I can bet that no treatment method or drug prescribed by doctors can ever come close to the healing effects that essential oils offer for the lungs. With the use of essential oils, it is entirely possible to pull someone out of a critical respiratory illness; they are just amazing!
So there you have it – some practical tips to help you improve your lung and respiratory health. Put them into practice to keep those vital organs operating at peak performance!