Breath, lifeforce, air, oxygen—these simple pleasures and vital needs are all interconnected, and perhaps taken for granted until they are somehow compromised. The health impacts of the recent wildfires in North America have hit people along the East Coast of the United States particularly hard, but long before these events, it was reported that over 30 percent of Americans live in places with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Lung support may be at the top of many of our minds today, but it’s also an important topic as climate change and other health conditions become amplified.
With so much of our Anima family grappling with a wide range of lung and respiratory health concerns, our herbalists have come together to offer some herbs and tips to help keep you strong, and to support recovery from the negative effects of “smoke blankets”, air pollution, respiratory conditions, and many other issues that may be impacting your ability to breathe easily.
“Inspiration”, the word used for breathing in, perfectly describes the main function of the lungs. To be properly “inspired”, both spiritually and physically, we must create space by dispelling stale air and letting go of our old, perceived notions of reality. The lungs are said to help process grief and trauma, and are very sensitive to an excess of worry and sadness, spiritually and emotionally speaking. With the ability to yield and demand, give and take, hold on and let go, the balance of the lung (metal) energy is vital to keeping our body supple. When an imbalance occurs, order and discipline are rigidly maintained in an attempt to tightly control our emotions. Our rules and routines become inflexible, and the body begins to stiffen as a result of this constriction.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the lungs represent grief and are deeply connected with the large intestine. Beneath the skin, lung energy helps the blood circulate, which is what we consider to be the body’s defensive layer against outside pathogens. Astragalus in particular exemplifies this energy and is used in TCM to support the lungs, to build up the immune system, and to protect against pathogens. It is said that astragalus is like a plastic wrap for the immune system, protecting it from bugs, viruses, and other potential intruders.
Physically, this type of imbalance or dis-ease in the lungs makes us more prone to bronchial infections and sinusitis. Allergies may be amplified, and heaviness of the chest and asthma may also be triggered or worsened. Luckily, nature has provided us with a variety of herbs that can help support the entire respiratory system. Lung tonics are beneficial for long-term vitality, acute conditions, and repairing damage caused by emotional, physical, energetic, and external factors.
Herbalists tend to approach treating the respiratory system by focusing on supporting the healthy self-cleaning function of the mucus in the mouth, throat, and digestive tract. That mucus most often needs help being expelled or suppressed if it is too “wet” and needs moisturizing or rebuilding if it is too “dry”. Let’s say you have asthma, or trouble breathing in general. Asthma is a “dry” lung state, so you’ll want to turn to soothing herbs like astragalus and slippery elm to help moisten, cleanse, cool, and heal the respiratory tract. Because asthma is also a spasmodic condition, herbalists may recommend antispasmodics to counteract your symptoms, such as mullein or lobelia. If instead you are suffering from bronchitis, herbalists will look to dispel and disperse the mucus buildup using expectorants like peppermint, thyme, or osha root. Treating bronchitis, a “wet” lung state, with herbal medicine is rooted in breaking up excess mucus.
Maintaining and supporting healthy respiratory system functioning most often doesn’t exclude the other organs to only focus on the lungs. In fact, your lungs are the end point of respiration, anatomically speaking. Because pollen, dust, and other particles must be caught and removed before air reaches the sensitive lung tissues (only designed to take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen), it first must travel through the upper and lower respiratory tracts.
These 10 lung protective herbs are great tonics for respiratory wellness, but may also serve as preventative medicines, not just in times of need like those we are currently experiencing. Take a look at the list below, and if you’re still not sure what herbs are right for you, take advantage of our free herbalist chat here.
Let us help you breathe better.
And even with all that’s going on in the world, we couldn’t forget the metaphorical air beneath our wings—shout out to all the fathers! Some of our favorite herbs for strength, libido, athletic performance, and more are on sale now for a limited time only. We hope these unique gifts for Dad will help you celebrate the holistic well-being of your fathers, and anyone who’s trying to boost that BDE (Big Dad Energy).
Explore our special curated collection of plant medicines to honor dads everywhere. Save on these select plant medicines for libido boosting, motility, strength, testosterone, and other Father’s Day-inspired goodies: