Healthy air devoid of pollutants and other chemicals is more a myth than reality in today’s industrialized world. And while our lungs do their best in filtering out as much harmful substances as they can, they do have their limitations. Lung diseases such as COPD, asthma and allergic rhinitis are on a steady rise not only due to environmental factors but also due to some of our self-inflicted deadly habits like smoking.
Fortunately, there are easy and healthy natural ways to enhance your lung function and make your breathing easier and more comfortable. Here are five lung-loving herbs that will not only thwart chronic lung infections and inflammation of respiratory passages, but also keep excess mucus in check and relax the airways, much like a fresh breath of air.
Popularly known as Frankincense, boswellia has plenty of anti-inflammatory properties. A study carried out by scientists in Egypt found that this herb was able to block the progression of pulmonary fibrosis, while also correcting airway dysfunction and injury by fighting inflammation. Another study highlighted the effects of boswellia in treating patients with bronchial asthma.
How To Use It: Boswellia is available in capsules, tablets and liquid extract forms. The daily recommended dose should not exceed 1,000 mg. It is highly advisable to talk to your doctor or healthcare professional before taking the herbal supplements.
2. Grape Seed Extract
One of the most widely researched herb for lung health, grape seed is rich in proanthocyanidin, or flavonoid-rich antioxidants. According to a 2012 study, these beneficial chemicals inhibit the damage to the lung tissue from free radicals by neutralizing them, as well as stimulate the enzyme system that controls inflammation, thus marking its efficacy in the treatment of asthma. Grape seed extracts have also been found to be effective against non-small-cell lung cancer.
How To Use It: Grape seed extract is available as dietary supplements in the form of capsules, tablets and liquid extract. Always speak to your healthcare provider or doctor before taking them.
This popular culinary herb is used to flavor a variety of dishes in cuisines around the world. But apart from being loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, it is also a powerful lung-cleansing herb. The primary lung benefits can be attributed to its two active components, carvacrol and rosmarinic acid, both of which have decongestant and anti-histamine properties. Oregano is thus an effective remedy against coughs, asthma and bronchitis.
How To Use It: The healthiest way to include oregano is by adding it to your favorite soups, stews, salad dressings or stir-fried vegetables. Alternatively, you can also brew a fresh tea using fresh or dried oregano leaves.
The expectorant properties of peppermint have long been harnessed to treat upper respiratory congestion. The decongestant effect comes from its menthol content coupled with its strong cooling effect which freshens the breath. Peppermint oil works particularly well by reducing irritation and acts as a bronchodilator to open airways and thus help asthma patients.
How To Use It: Steep a soothing and decongesting tea by boiling five to six fresh peppermint leaves or 1tsp of dried peppermint in one cup of boiling water for five minutes. Drink once cool. Alternatively, to relieve a congested nose, add two to three drops of peppermint oil to hot water and inhale this steam. You can also rub peppermint oil on your throat, chest and back to relieve decongestion. Click here to buy it online.
5. Green Tea
A powerhouse of antioxidants, green tea is one of the best immune boosters; it protects the lung tissue from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Various scientific studies have also associated drinking green tea with a lower risk of lung cancer. The antioxidants are thought to inhibit tumor growth and counteract the effects of smoking. Besides, it’s also great for weight loss. (Related Article: 9 Healthy Benefits Of Green Tea)
How To Use it: The simplest way to enjoy the lung benefits of green tea is to make a calming tea by boiling 2tsp of dried green tea leaves in one cup of boiling water. You can also use the commercially available tea bags available online or in your grocery store.