Respiratory Wellness during Fire Season

Respiratory Wellness during Fire Season
June 16, 2023 Colleen Emery

Summertime is such a lovely season, a time for relaxing at the beach, hiking our vast and wonderful forests, barbequeing with friends and family. Normally we are recreating with ease and relatively low stress, however, this year, we are faced with unprecedented dry conditions resulting in many fires in our region as well as western Canada in general.

Many of us in the region have been under a constant, grey haze from the fires. When exposed continuously to poorer air quality our respiratory systems can become compromised, especially for those who already deal with chronic respiratory concerns or for those who work outside and have a longer more consistent exposure to the smoke.

Fortunately there are many herbs, nutritionals and lifestyle strategies that one can implement to help encourage respiratory wellness and counter the symptoms that arise during prolonged exposure to compromised air quality. The benefit of adopting these strategies at this time of year is that you also bolster your resilience for the up coming cold and flu season in the fall.

Remember if you are taking any prescription medicine or have any outstanding health concerns to have a little chat with your health provider prior to introducing anything new to avoid any contraindications.


LIMIT MUCOUS FORMING FOODS Mucus is an important part of the immune system because it literally traps and coats foreign particles. However, if the body is locked into a cycle of overproduction and inflammation, it can make it tough to breathe. Foods to avoid include refined fats, sugars and flour products as well as certain dairy products. FOODS TO INCLUDE: Omega fatty acid rich foods such as nuts and fish, berries, leafy green vegetables, grass fed meat and citrus fruits.

INCLUDE HERBAL ALLIES: The lungs love certain herbs, as do the bronchi and sinus. Mullein leaf is a lung restorative helping reduce mucous production and recover the system after distress or illness. Elderflower, Horehound and Elecampane all are excellent expectorants meaning they aid the body in moving mucous up and out. Violet leaf and Marshmallow flower,  leaf and root provide gentle support for a respiratory system that is dry and tired, especially helpful for children when prepared as a tea with a bit of raw honey. Chewing on a Licorice stick is an easy addition for children to help soothe tender throats and tissues.

Soothing the Nervous System is also essential during this time. The smell of smoke from an active fire, whether in your community or smoke from far afield insights concern, affecting the nervous system, resulting in stress. Herbal Allies that are very helpful to soothe this response are those that nourish the nervous system, reach for tincture of fresh milky oat tops, teas of chamomile and lemon balm, aromatic medicines of lavender, rose and holy basil.

NETI POT: This ancient, Ayurvedic way of cleansing the nasal and sinus pathways is a must have during times of exposure to poorer air quality. Not only does it clean the sinuses, it nourishes the sensitive mucosal lining and invigorates the tissues providing a stronger foundation for respiratory wellness. Want to learn how? Check out this website:

INCLUDE CERTAIN ESSENTIAL OILS: Essential oils are the very concentrated distillates of certain herbs, trees, woods and barks. Oils to access from a qualified provider include Ravensara, Rosemary, Eucalyptus and certain strains of Lavender. When inhaled, certain essential oils can act as gentle bronchodilators, encouraging the airways to open up, allowing more air to move. When essential oils are applied correctly and used appropriately they have the ability to encourage wellness in the most profound kind of way. Remember that essential oils are extremely potent medicinal extracts and can be toxic to the liver in small doses. They are only safe to use internally under the supervision of a trained and certified practitioner.

GET ADJUSTED, HAVE A MASSAGE, SEE YOUR ACUPUNCTURIST: Having a body treatment with your favourite practitioner will benefit your respiratory wellness in so many ways. For example, Chiropractic treatments work to optimize the function of the neurological system. They also correct structural issues and make sure that your muscles are working in concert with your bones to breathe properly. Massage can help to relax your body from the tension of a prolonged stress response of being exposed to a fire near by. Acupuncture can significantly reduce the severity of respiratory symptoms, helping to drain the sinuses and improve lung function.