Are you wondering how to detox your lungs?
From wildfires to city pollution, you may feel like your lungs need a breath of literal fresh air. Clearing our lungs is a different ballgame than a juice cleanse. While you can flush your digestive system with green juices galore, your lungs don’t want to be filled with fluid!
While the lungs have a self-cleaning mechanism for getting rid of toxins and damaged tissue, you can give them a helping hand with a good lung cleansing. This can also support your health and immunity as the cold and flu season arises. Herbs for lung health (or even a supplement for lung health) may just help do the trick.
Below is our guide to a DIY all-natural lung cleanse to help support healthy lungs.
Step 1: Stop Smoking and Avoid Toxins
If you’re still smoking or vaping, stop.
As your doctor has told you, both smoking and vaping can cause long-term damage to the lungs. In fact, if you’ve been smoking or vaping for a while, you’ve likely already damaged or killed some of the delicate alveoli , or air sacs, inside your lungs due to lung toxins.
There’s no real way to cleanse your lungs if you’re smoking or vaping, so the very first step to pulmonary rehab is saying goodbye to your substance of choice.
In addition to avoiding cigarette smoke and eCigarette vapors, be aware of other substances that could challenge your lungs, including:
- Environmental pollution and poor air quality
- Any substance that exacerbates your allergies, causing airway inflammation
There’s no time like the present to invest in a quality HEPA air filter so that you can breathe clean air while at home.
Step 2: Start Your Day With Green Tea and Lung-Supporting Herbs
After exposure to smoke and other environmental irritants, your lungs may become inflamed.
How does it work? Harmful substances irritate the sensitive tissue of your lungs, causing inflammation. This makes it difficult for air to flow easily through your alveoli, which can lead to sensations of fatigue and shortness of breath.
There are a number of herbal allies that can help clear inflammation from your airways.
Green tea, packed with powerful antioxidants, is a great place to start. While coffee is also antioxidant, green tea has been shown to improve smokers’ lung health. This indicates that it may be a helpful aid in reversing some of the inflammation caused by environmental irritants (including smoke).
In addition to your cup of green tea, consider herbal supplements. Advanced Lung Guard capsules are formulated with herbs and mushrooms that support lung health. These include:
- Reishi mushrooms
- Licorice root
Advanced Lung Guard combines modern science and Traditional Chinese Medicine, in which several of these herbs are said to promote the circulation of healthy lung Qi ,or energy.
With powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties that may improve lung immunity, these ingredients can help heal and strengthen your lungs.
Step 3: Practice Deep Breathing
We don’t often think of breathing as a process that expels waste. However, every exhale represents the release of unneeded carbon dioxide.
In addition, deep breathing can help to strengthen the diaphragm, the muscle that controls your inhales and exhales. Like any other muscle, it can be strengthened by conscious exertion. Conversely, it can be weakened through disuse.
While simple belly breathing is great for developing diaphragmatic strength, more advanced breathing exercises can help take your lung cleanse to the next level.
In yogic practices, pranayama, or breath practice, is just as important as the asana, or physical pose. Try out the following cleansing pranayama:
- Kapalabhati / Breath of Fire – Sit in a comfortable position. Inhale halfway, and then take repeated short, sharp exhales through your nose without pausing to exhale. You should feel your belly drawing in with each exhale. As it retracts and expands, your lungs will passively fill with oxygen. Take 30 exhales. Then, inhale and exhale completely. Inhale halfway, and complete another round of 30 exhales. With experience, you can work up to three rounds of 100 exhales.
- Dirga pranayama / three-part breath – Lie down. Feel your breath fill your belly (part 1). Then, inhale a little more, sensing your breath fill your rib cage (part 2). Take in one more sip of air, filling in your collar bones with oxygen (part 3). At the top, exhale only from your upper chest. Then, exhale from your ribcage. Finally, exhale until your belly and lungs are empty of air. Repeat for 3-5 minutes.
Kapalabhati is more intense, while dirga pranayama is more relaxing. Choose the pranayama that best suits your mood, and cease practice if you experience nervousness or shortness of breath.
Step 4: Steam With Essential Oils
Have you ever used Vick’s Vaporub to open your airways when you’ve had a tight chest? There’s an all-natural way to achieve the same effect. You can create lung steam by taking the following steps:
- Fill a heat-proof bowl ¼ full with boiling water.
- Add several drops of your favorite lung-opening essential oil. Popular choices include:
- Place a towel over your head and lean over the bowl.
- Inhale the vapors for 5 minutes or as long as you can tolerate.
This also acts as a facial steam, opening up your pores, so we suggest you remove any makeup. Because it can bring up phlegm, it can be helpful to hop in the shower right afterward!
Ready for a life hack? If you don’t have time to steam, place a fresh bunch of dried eucalyptus or thyme in your shower. The hot water encourages it to release its oils, adding a little airway-opening aromatherapy to your routine. This can also be a great option for people avoiding essential oils due to asthma, pregnancy or scent sensitivity.
Step 5: Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
We’ve already discussed the way inflammation can accumulate in the lungs.
Of course, all our bodily systems are connected, so anything you can do to clear systemic inflammation will also benefit your lung health.
- Beets – Beets and their greens are rich in nitrates that can help lower blood pressure and promote oxygen intake. Like other veggies and leafy greens, they pack in abundant vitamins and minerals that promote overall health.
- Pumpkin – Pumpkin and other orange vegetables are rich in beta-carotene. You may already know this compound is good for your eyes, but you may not know it supports healthy lung function.
- Tomatoes – Juicy tomatoes are rich in an antioxidant compound called lycopene, which may help to reduce inflammation in your airways.
While completing your lung cleanse, make sure you’re eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies. You can also consider avoiding dairy products for the time being since they cause inflammation in some individuals.
Step 6: Exercise
We associate cleansing with exercise, saunas and other methods that release toxins through sweat.
However, when it comes to your lung cleanse, the aim isn’t necessarily to sweat it out. Instead, it’s to give your lungs, heart, and diaphragm a full workout so that you can begin to build strength and optimize function.
The American Lung Association recommends both cardiovascular exercise and strength training focused on the muscles that support the lungs, especially those between the ribs and in the chest.
During your cleanse, we recommend running, cycling or swimming for 20-30 minutes or more a day to get your heart pumping. The goal is to exercise at an intensity where you can talk comfortably, but where singing might start to wind you. Be gentle and don’t compare your day one to someone else’s day 100.
To uplevel your pulmonary health, try out a pilates class to start strengthening the small stabilizing muscles in your ribcage.
Step 7: Sleep Well
What does sleep have to do with a lung cleanse? We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: sleep is key to overall health. Your body does its most efficient repair work when you’re sleeping deeply.
If your lung cleanse gives you extra energy and verve, congratulations! But don’t forget to get in eight hours of ZZZs as part of your regimen.
Try out the following tips to maximize your chances of getting healthy, nourishing sleep:
- Take CBD oil before bed to help prepare your body for sleep.
- Use an essential oil diffuser stocked with thyme to keep your airways open at night.
- If you need a humidifier to support your breathing, plug that in, too!
Customizing Your Lung Cleanse
Now that you know how to detox your lungs, you’re likely wondering how long your lung cleanse should last.
The short answer is, until you start to breathe easier.
- If you’ve just quit smoking after a years-long pack-a-day habit, it may take months for your lungs to return to healthy, normal function.
- If you generally lead a healthy lifestyle, a quick lung detox of a week may be long enough to help you take longer, deeper breaths.
Luckily, most of the steps of your lung cleanse are easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Check out our additional tips on strengthening your lung health and function for more inspiration on making a few permanent, healthful changes to your lifestyle.
Plant People: Making Advanced Wellness Accessible
At Plant People, we honor the ways plants and fungi support our health. We formulate our products in line with traditional wisdom and new research to ensure our customers receive the best potential benefits nature has to offer.
All of our products are formulated with organically grown, sustainably sourced ingredients. We use third party lab testing to ensure quality and efficacy. Ready to breathe through revived lungs? Check out our Lung Guard today!
Public Radio International / The World. Lungs Have Their Own Self-Cleaning Systems to Get Rid of Mucus. https://www.pri.org/stories/2012-08-25/lungs-have-their-own-self-cleaning-systems-get-rid-mucus
WebMD. Green Tea May Cut Smokers’ Lung Cancer Risk. https://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20100112/green-tea-may-cut-smokers-lung-cancer-risk#1
Healthline. The 20 Best Foods for Lung Health. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lung-cleansing-foods
American Lung Association. Exercise and Lung Health. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/wellness/exercise-and-lung-health
Thrillist. So You’ve Stopped Smoking. https://www.thrillist.com/health/nation/the-amount-of-time-it-takes-your-lungs-to-return-to-normal-after-quitting-cigarette-smoking
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