The Lungs are at work every moment of our existence.
They work tirelessly to cleanse the air we breathe in order to provide oxygen to our cells in order to energise and revitalise our entire beings. They are also responsible for eliminating the waste matter from the cells through each exhale. Rhythmically transforming, protecting and filtering all the external pollutants and environmental irritants and alchemising it into a refined and absolutely perfected air. In the realities of the increase of toxins and irritants we are exposed to, these precious filters of ours are under more stress than before, and so the importance of tending to these incredible organs is worth tending to.
A healthy respiratory system is awe inspiring - something which allows for us to live a vital and enriching life.
The Lungs form part of a respiratory system which is a network of organs and tissues that help you to be able to breathe and includes airways, tissues, lungs, muscles and blood vessels. These parts all work together to be able to ensure that you can ease-fully inhale and exhale (give it a try), but it also allows for some other experiences like:
- warming air to match body temperature
- moisturise air to humidity level of the body
- deliver oxygen to cells
- removes waste gasses such as carbon dioxide through the exhale
- protect the airways from harmful substances, irritants and toxins
The parts which create the whole
Your airways are a complex system which all allow for air to be delivered to the lungs, and includes:
The mouth and nose: pulling oxygen from outside the body into your respiratory system
Sinuses: The hollows between the bones in your head that aid in regulating temperatures and humidity of the air inhaled
Pharynx: The throat delivers air from the mouth and nose to the windpipe
Trachea/ Windpipe: connects the throat and the lungs
Bronchial tubes: tubes from the bottom of the windpipe which connect to each lung
Lungs: the two organs which remove oxygen from the air and pass it into the blood - from there the bloodstream delivers all oxygen to your organs and tissues. Within the lungs are the Alveoli where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place, the Bronchioles which connect the Bronchial tubes to the alveoli, Capillaries (blood vessels), lung lobes, and Pleura, the thin sacs which surround each lobe and separate the lines from the chest wall.
The muscles and bones then move the air which is inhaled in and exhaled out of your lungs and include the diaphragm and the ribs, providing the frame from which all this beautiful activity can take place within.
Here are some herbal allies to support and sustain your beautiful respiratory system:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Turkey Tail mushroom is synonymous and symbolic of longevity, health, spiritual attainment and the infinite - called Tun Chi it has been used as an immune-modulator and to clear any excess dampness within the body - increasing energy, strengthening the lungs, stomach and spleen. Used mostly as an immune-modulator it aids in preventing and protecting the entire body from infections. As a lung strengthening tonic is it able to modulate and protect potentials of infections and support the process of respiration. As a modulator it is able to support both over and under active immune responses which is very rare for both herbal and allopathic medications, it also revered for its anti-tumor mechanisms, its ability to treat pulmonary disease, as an antiviral, in the healing from upper respiratory, urinary and digestive tract infections as well as hepatitis B and chronic active hepatitis.
(click the mushroom to view)
Also known as horse heal, this wonderful plant is common in Great Britain, Europe and Asia. It has long been used and valued as a respiratory ally and has earned a beautiful reputation in Traditional Chinese, Greek, Roman and Ayurvedic medicine to treat bronchitis and asthma.
When breathing becomes constricted the lining of the bronchial tubes can become swollen, thus making breathing a harder experience. Elecampane is rich in inulin which aids in coating and soothing these passages and additionally acts as an expectorant to reduce and cleanse the lungs of congestion. Used to relieve coughs, have a relaxing effect on smooth tracheal muscles, stimulating appetite and digestion, increasing flow of bile, support respiratory conditions and in the healing from flu and bronchitis.
Pine needles are a Vitamin rich replenishing tonic.
In Ancient Greece, Scotland and surrounds as a household remedy for all manner of illness’ and disease. Hippocrates was said to have used it for the lungs and respiratory tract, making it an antiquated ally for our breath. The needles are high in Vitamin A & C and contain shikimic acid which has shown to aid in treating lung congestion through opening the respiratory passages. They have also shown incredible effects as an anti-microbial, anti-coagulant and for easing joint and muscle pain through its anti-inflammatory action.
Known as Black geranium (Pelargonium sidoides), this is an ancient South African medicine has gained global attention for its phenomenal action in fighting off infections. Traditionally it has been used to treat coughs, colds and alleviate symptoms as well as to shorten the duration of infection. Best known for being able to fight off bronchial, sinus and upper respiratory infections, scientists are finding that a simple decoction of Umckaloabo is sufficient in fighting off viral infections.
Scientific studies have shown that it is the best herb for bronchial infections “as it improves the cough as well as headaches, fever, fatigue and rhionorrhea” (Bokelmann, 2022), this has been given credit due to the efficacy it has to resolving and healing the root of the ailment - focusing on benefiting the airways, pulmonary and respiratory systems as a whole. It has also shown beneficial in the treatment of pharyngitis, sinusitis, acute bronchitis and boost the immune response.
Reishi mushrooms – have been revered since the dawn of modern culture. It has been recognized as a medicinal mushroom for over 4000 years & its powerful effects have been documented in many ancient manuscripts - however this fantastic fungus is exceptionally rare with some texts reporting that you could only find 1 on every 10 000 plum trees in Japan. Traditionally, it was used in China by Taoist monks to promote calmness, improve meditative practices, as well as to attain a long & healthy life. Chinese royalty, seeking longevity, held Reishi mushroom in high esteem.
Reishi has shown to strengthen respiratory function in its abilities to aid in improving oxygen utilisation, particularly in those who have asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease etc. It has also been used as adjutant therapy for those with lung cancer, seeing that it has a positive effect on the immune response as well as being anti-cancer and anti-tumor itself. In China a study conducted with 12 lung cancer patients concluded through blood testing that through its polysaccharide content reishi was able to promote the stability and activity of cancer-fighting immune cells called lymphocytes.
(nudge nudge - look out for a materia medica to come)
Folklore states that 1,500 years ago, Tibetan yak- herders noticed that mountain- grazed animals grew stronger & lived longer than those that consumed the grasses at lower elevations. At first they thought it was the robust mountain grass that was responsible, but then an unknown shepherd stumbled upon the answer - Cordyceps
This weird and wonderful mushroom has been researched extensively and in recent years there has been an increased link in preclinical studies between Cordyceps and improved lung health. The results showing that Cordyceps can aid in supporting and improving respiratory function and therefore not only aid in the maintenance of healthy respiration but in the treatment of healing of lung tissue damage.
As an adaptogenic medicine it has shown to aid in treating seasonal allergies and significantly suppress a cytokine called Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin (TLSP) which spurs on mast cell development and activation and thus ensuring homeostasis/ balance within the body.
Traditionally Chinese Herbalists have used this medicine for centuries as a tonic to soothe the lungs and treat respiratory dis-ease. In its actions it has been used in athletes to aid in lung functioning, making it a wonderful ally in supporting respiration and athletic performance - this is also linked to its ability to boost adenosine triphosphate (ATP) - the energy molecule. Further contemporary studies have illuminated that these wonderful allies have the ability in assisting the body with overall lung health, which as they relax allow for an increase and enhancement in oxygen utilisation.
With a long and enduring history in Chinese Medicine, Astragalus is known as a premier Qi tonic. Qi is simply defined as the vital life force that flows in our bodies, thus a qi tonic provides protection or a conceptual “shield” which serves as a primary defence mechanism against pernicious threats to the system . Traditional Chinese medicine has used it for centuries as a lung tonic, even regarding injury within this organ.
Forming a foundation for other medicines and taking subtle yet powerful action itself, Astragalus is able to fight off respiratory ailments and disease such as the flu, bronchitis, asthma and chest infectionsI. Filled with antioxidants it is additionally beneficial in boosting the immune response. It contains astragalosides, flavonoids and polysaccharides which aid in immune response, lung health, anti0tumor activity and prevention of fibrosis of the lungs as well as improve lung function of asthmatics.
Here are some more allies who are deserving of an honourable mention: Liquorice root, Mullein, Plantain, Elderflowers, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Osha Root, Wild Cherry, Nettle, Schisandra, Rosemary, Goldenrod, Thyme, Black Elderberry and more.
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I hope this encourages you to give your lungs a little more loving
SENDING YOU BLESSINGS OF RADIANT WELLBEING
. . .
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