New York sky turned orange (Photo: Nir (Shoko) Cohen)

PP Lung Support

As wildfires become more frequent and intense, many people are concerned about the impact on their health, especially when it comes to breathing. Wildfire smoke can contain harmful particles and chemicals that can irritate the lungs, causing short-term respiratory problems such as coughing and wheezing, and potentially exacerbating chronic lung conditions. While it’s important to follow health guidelines such as staying indoors and using air filters during wildfires, there are also natural remedies that can help support lung health during and after exposure to wildfire smoke. 

Pilates Principle: Breathing

While Pilates is mostly known to improve core strength, posture, and range of motion, one of the main principles of Pilates is breathing. The method can be used to improve respiratory function in those suffering from respiratory ailments. Deep breathing stimulates the internal organs,  increasing circulation, and your body begins carrying oxygen and nutrients to every cell, as well as removing waste. Deep breathing is your easiest and most available internal cleansing mechanism.

In Pilates we focus on Diaphragmatic Breathing expanding the belly with the inhale and deflating with the exhale. We also use Lateral Breathing expanding our ribcage and back to allow for a full intake of air. Joseph Pilates intended for us to use the breath. He said in his book on Contrology, “Lazy breathing converts the lungs, literally and figuratively speaking, into a cemetery for the deposition of diseased, dying and dead germs as well as supplying an ideal haven for the multiplication of other harmful germs.”


Another remedy to support Lungs is the use of acupressure. You can stimulate the Lungs through Acupressure of “Lung 1 and Lung 2” Acupressure Points by touching your collarbone with your fingers and work your way toward your shoulder until you find the pocket between your collarbone and shoulder. Starting on the left, rub the area firmly with a couple of fingers in a circular motion. Count to nine, switch sides and do the same thing. These points are excellent for boosting the Lung Qi and the immune system. After massaging each of the points, tap each of them lightly with your opposite fist while you take a couple of deep breaths. You can also stand and add twisting of the upper body. When your lung qi is strong, you feel vibrant, energetic, and breathing is easy. With the wildfire smoke we are experiencing right now our lungs are put under a lot of strain and can quickly become depleted of qi. Symptoms of lung qi deficiency include fatigue, shallow breathing, weak dry cough, weak voice, skin issues or even sweating. Acupuncture can also help to support your lung qi and keep you well before you have any serious symptoms. If you fall into one of the categories for people at higher risk of having issues from smoke, it is even more important to reach out to a licensed acupuncturist.

Traditional Herbs

Here are some herbs that have been traditionally used to support lung health:

Mullein: Mullein leaves are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe respiratory inflammation and irritation. They can be made into a tea, or taken as a tincture. Mellen Leaf strengthens oxygen sacs of the lung respiratory relaxant.

Ginger and Turmeric of “Golden Milk:” Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce inflammation in the respiratory system. It can be added to tea or used in cooking. If you have a cough, ginger is going to be your best friend. This Chinese herb has anti-inflammatory properties and is also known for being an antiviral as well. Turmeric is another anti-inflammatory herb full of antioxidants. You can use it as a powder to add to dishes. You can find both in “Golden Milk,” a nourishing drink you can buy or make at home.

Reishi & Cordyceps soothe the lungs and have been used for thousands of years in Chinese Medicine. They can prevent damage due to low oxygen levels and enhance the immune system. :


Ancient herbs from Ayurveda can also support breath. The combination of pippili, ginger, tulsi and amla and more have been shown to support the body’s immune and lung function. Pippli, has traditionally been used to promote a healthy respiratory tract, ginger possesses antioxidant properties and the amla fruit is one of the most potent sources of natural vitamin C. Perhaps the most recognized Ayurvedic herb classically used for detoxification and purification, is Tulsi Holy Basil. The Indian government planted over 10,000 tulsi plants to combat severe air pollution in Agra.

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It is important to note that while herbs can be helpful in supporting lung health, they should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. If you are experiencing any respiratory symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention. Supporting lung health during wildfires is important for everyone, especially those with pre-existing respiratory conditions therefore important to consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbs if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications.

Food as Medicine
Keep meals simple and avoid common inflammatory foods such as dairy, alcohol or greasy/fried foods. Moistening fruits such as pear can help to nourish lung yin and combat effects of fires. You can include: daikon radish, cruciferous veggies, foods high in Vitamin C. The acrid flavor supports lungs and is found in onions, leeks and ginger. Pears are best steamed, stewed or baked and served with ingredients such as ghee, cinnamon walnut and honey as medicinal nourishment for moistening the lungs. Liver Loving Veggies such as avocados, carrots, broccoli, spinach, apples, asparagus, sprouts, arugula, beets, spirulina are also helpful. Consider this recipe:

About The Author

Jennifer M Ward MAcOM, Dipl.OM, L.Ac., CAP 

Jen is a Diplomate in Chinese Medicine, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Integrative & Functional Medicine trained Health Coach and Classical Pilates Practitioner. Follow for more @beingelemental

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