Herbs For Lung Support After Bush Fires
Posted on 21 November 2019 by Leonie Satori
The recent bush fires throughout Australia are reeking havoc, not only for the health of our Mother Earth, but also the health and lungs of her residents. What I am seeing now in clinic is many people with various respiratory complaints caused by persistent smoke in the environment; coughs and respiratory irritation are becoming commonplace for many folks.
Here, in the Northern Rivers NSW, rain is not forecast for several weeks. It seems that we will need to adapt to the changes, support our environment & each other and work towards improving our resilience during these challenging times.
Smoke from bush fires can affect us in a few different ways. Irritation of the mucous membranes through the upper and lower respiratory tract can cause coughs, shortness of breath, sore throat or hoarseness. Eyes can be irritated and watery and sinus can be constantly running. The chemicals in smoke may also cause headaches, allergies and for some, a knock on affect with moods and irritability.
As always, Mother Nature provides many nourishing and soothing herbs for the lungs and respiratory tract. Too many to mention in this article, but here, I discuss some of the most valuable ones for supporting the lungs, soothing irritation through the mucous membranes and supporting expectoration.
Grindelia (Grindelia robusta) is a somewhat uncommon herb in Australia, a member of the sunflower family, grindelia originates from North America. It makes the top of the list here for lung support after bush fires due to it's cooling and soothing qualities. Grindelia bolsters these qualities with anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and expectorant properties. With a history of use for asthma, hay fever and all sorts of coughs, this remarkable herb is top of the list for supporting healthy lung function when dispensing liquid herbs in my clinic.
Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) is a lovely, light and fluffy herb, which was of course the inspiration for those gooey marshmallows from the confectionery store. Much healthier than their sugary counterpart, marshmallow root is naturally high in vitamin A, a nutrient synonymous with mucous membrane restoration, making it a perfect herb for membranes of the respiratory tract. Three main qualities that marshmallow root is renowned for in herbal medicine are: demulcent (soothing & protective), emollient (softens and soothes) and vulnerary (hastens wound healing), making this the ideal herb for moistening and healing lungs after the bush fires.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) has a long history of use in herbal medicine as a mucous membrane tonic for the respiratory tract. The broad range of constituents in this herb make it perfect for relaxing the musculature of the respiratory tract, helping to liquefy mucous and supporting expectoration of mucous. This herb works well in conjunction with other herbs to support healthy lung function.
Liquorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a favourite herb among many herbalists and is one of the best known and tastiest herbs around. Quite unlike the sweet confectionery sold in the supermarket, licorice is soothing for the respiratory mucosa and provides a gentle mucolytic and expectorant action. Liquorice is considered in some old texts as "a superb herb for respiratory complaints" and with additional anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy qualities, it becomes an essential component in respiratory herbal remedies.
Sundew (Drosea rotundifolia) is a plant native to Europe and used almost exclusively in Herbal Medicine for the respiratory tract. Anti-spasmodic and relaxant to the bronchial musculature, sundew is the ideal herb for those irritating, persistent and tickly coughs. With a long history of use for those with bronchitis, asthma or dry, painful coughs, sundew is one of my go-to herbs to support the lungs.
While this is not an exhaustive list of herbs for supporting the lungs after bush fires, I hope this can give you a glimpse of the wealth of benefits from using herbs for healing. As we all mourn the loss of our bushland, our wildlife, our homes, precious possessions and loved ones, recovery can be found in nature herself, in her unrelenting abundance and resilience.
As always, this information is for educational purposes only. We suggest seeing a qualified Herbalist or Naturopath before using herbs, especially if you have a diagnosed medical condition, are using pharmaceutical medicines or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
About the Author
Leonie is a Naturopath & Medical Herbalist with a passion for good food, healthy living and of course, herbal medicine. When she is not consulting in her Naturopathic clinic in Lismore or blogging about nutrition, Ayurvedic Medicine or natural health, she is studying yoga, growing her own herbs and vegetables or quietly walking in the natural bush land in Northern Rivers NSW.
Contact our health centre in Lismore to book an appointment with Leonie in our naturopathic clinic.