Natural Ways to Breathe Easy in Wildfire Season

Holy smoke! When lightning strikes, Mother Nature goes on a rampage…

Pemberton Wildfire

Image: BC Wildfire Service

Over the past few days, my neck of the woods has been draped in an apocalyptic haze. With the overwhelming fires raging in BC (nearly 200 and counting – 40% of which were likely caused by cigarettes and campfires), our air quality rating has plummeted.

Tragically, I still see people taking a drag. As if the equivalent of toxic tar inhalation from the forest fire smog isn’t enough. Not to mention they could be igniting the next blaze by the toss of a butt. The nerve!

It’s hard to tell whether things are actually improving at this point, but I gather the extreme fire hazard level and air quality advisories will stay in effect until the rain clouds miraculously move in.

NASA smoke plume

NASA captured this smoke plume over coastal BC

The BC Air Quality Index suggests foregoing any strenuous outdoor activity, especially if respiratory issues are a concern. Safe to say I won’t be biking into work this week. Health officials have included diabetes in the at-risk demo, as per usual (could be the whole oxidative stress thing or the link between air pollutants and insulin resistance in type 2).

Really, it can’t be healthy for any of us. Our pharmacies are experiencing a shortage in face masks, but a local pizza joint is selling them for $5.

As we channel safe and sound vibes to our women and men fighting fires in the front line, we can also reduce our personal health risks. The CBC suggests using HEPA air filters, staying in cool, air-conditioned environments and avoiding high-traffic zones or burning wooded areas. All wise choices.

Since this dense fog is more harmful than cleansing, here are a few natural lung-loving tips:

  • UP THE ANTIOXIDANTS 
    Oxidative damage can be a major result of smoke exposure, which creates free radicals and inflammation in the body. Incorporate more vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies, and herbal nutrients like stinging nettle, elderberry, passionflower, rose and turmeric. Medicinal mushrooms like chaga and reishi are also super sources of antioxidants.

photo 2 (4)

  • REDUCE TOXIC LOAD
    Boosting immunity is a good call when the breathing ain’t easy. Give your detox pathways a gentle nudge with herbs like cilantro and parsley, which work to chelate (a.k.a. bond to) heavy metals in the body for optimal elimination. Smoke causes fine particulate matter in high concentrations, none of which we want to be ingesting in large doses.

cilantro

  • CLEANSE THE LUNGS
    Sipping some lung love tea is a good idea in times of troubled air. Herbs like garlic, ginger, cinnamon, fennel and thyme also serve to support lung health. A therapeutic tonic like Flora’s Respir-Essence would be helpful here as well.


  • PURIFY YOUR INDOOR AIR
    As mentioned, a HEPA filter is being tagged in most local news headlines right now. If you’ve got a bit of extra coin, I’d spring for an ultrasonic nebulizer (like the ones at Saje Wellness). Their Mountain High diffuser blend with pine, sage, spearmint and cedarwood will whisk you away to the peak of fresh air.

Breathe easy! xo

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