As I sit here buttoned up in my home in Silverton for the fifth day due to wildfire risk and smoke, I thought a quick resource might be of help. Smoke is at hazardous levels all over the Pacific Northwest, and can impact health. First off, I hope that you and your loved ones are safe. My heart goes out to everyone affected by these wildfires. Entire teams, crews and local community continue to work to mitigate the immediate threats to life and property, and I am beyond grateful to be part of an amazing community. Here are some actions you can take to reduce smoke exposure and improve the body’s ability to protect, detoxify and heal.
Common Smoke Side Effects
Headaches. Dry or irritated eyes. Sore throat. Irritated sinuses. Persistent cough. Shortness of breath. Phlegm. Fatigue. Chest pain. Asthma attacks or lung irritation.
Improve Air Quality Inside & Limit Smoke Exposure
- Keep windows and doors locked and closed and stay inside. Use towels to block leaky areas.
- Workout inside for now.
- Run the A/C on recirculate. Make sure your filter is clean!
- Use a HEPA air purifier or make your own low-cost particulate filter. Keep one in your bedroom and one in your main living space. A box fan and furnace filter are a great DIY version of this.
- Limit use of gas stoves, fireplaces, vacuums, synthetic chemicals, candles or air fresheners as these increase indoor air pollution.
- Avoid smoking indoors.
- Wear a N95 or N100 rated mask when outside. If you have preexisting lung or heart disease, ask your doctor before using a mask.
- Cover your skin with long sleeves and pants.
- Limit driving. Driving is a major source of air pollution and can further exacerbate the air quality. If necessary, driving keep the windows closed and make sure the air conditioning is set to recirculate the air.
- Do not open windows until the air quality reports say it is safe to do so. www.airnow.gov
Natural Ways to Protect, Support and Heal
- Eat a diet loaded with leafy greens and veggies. Leafy greens and veggies are loaded with antioxidants and nutrients to help your body deal with the added stress of poor air quality. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli have been shown to help reduce the inflammation associated with airborne pollution.
- Healthy foods: garlic, ginger, berries, dark chocolate, nuts, beets, kale, swiss chard, turmeric, rosemary, thyme are some examples.
- Drink plenty of water. Water moistens the mucus membranes lining the nasal passageways and lungs and can help the body to limit your exposure and protect your health. Use herbal teas for added benefit.
- Neti pot with saline solution to soothe and clear the sinuses
- Steam inhalation with essential oils like rosemary, eucalyptus or thyme. Put a towel over head and breathe in deeply once water is near boiling to clear sinuses.
- Shower or bathe with Epsom salts to help the skin detoxify and rid smoke particles.
- Antioxidants: NAC, glutathione, curcumin, resveratrol, vitamin C
- Lung Support Herbs: elecampane, yerba santa, marshmallow root, mullein, osha, yarrow
- Stress and Anxiety Support: phosphatidylserine, ashwaganda, holy basil, lemon balm, eleuthrococcus, rhodiola, vitamin C
- Eyewash Herbs: chamomile, eyebright, calendula, saline solution
- Breathe: we may not have fresh air to breathe, but we can breathe. Take long slow deep breaths to calm the nervous system and improve circulation.
- Let It Out: cry, scream, sigh. It is better to let it out in safe way than holding on to the heartbreak and frustration.
- Hug each other.
- Call a friend. Talking with someone supportive is helpful, but try to keep the conversation positive.
- Meditation/Mindfulness: just 10-15 minutes offers support.
- Gratitude: whether this becomes part of daily conversation, or a journal it is important to shift negative bias.
Please contact your healthcare provider or call 911 if you are experiencing health symptoms.
I am here for further recommendations or support. Stay Safe!