If you are living in a smoggy city like Delhi where the ambient air quality ranges between 26 to 208 micrograms per cubic meter of air with the world average being 71 micrograms (source:Wikipedia) then this blog is for you! Between 3,000 to 30,000 deaths in Delhi annually (oh, the state of data!) are attributable to air pollution, with the damaged lung capacity of children adding a far more permanent cast to the problem. Inspite of Government restrictions to bursting crackers and burning garbage, motor vehicle emissions, industrial emissions are a threat. It is each individual's responsibility to protect the environment not to add to the existing pollutants and also to protect your own lungs for a healthy living.
How does the pollutants damage your lungs?
Lung is a very soft Pinkish organ at birth. But by 50 years of age, lungs become brownish/ blackish coloured, stiff, hard or fibrosed due to the deposits of pollutants. In ayurvedic terms, lung is an organ of kapha dosha. The avalambaka kapha resides primarily in the lungs, respiratory tract, heart, and spine; it governs the delivery of prana to every cell, tissue, and organ, maintains the tone and permeability of the alveoli, protects the heart muscle, and tends to the tone of the muscular portion of the bronchi. Due to the deposits of pollutants like dust, smoke and gases (rajo-dhuma) the unique properties kapha is lost, it becomes hard and hence the organ becomes stiff loosing its respiratory volume. As a result of this the respiratory rate is reduced leading to oxygen deprivation in all the tissues. In addition to respiratory diseases like wheezing, asthma, bronchitis, COPD and carcinoma, it may also cause diseases realted to heart, brain , blood and other vital structures.
How to protect your lungs form pollution through herbs?
- Nasal instillation (Nasya) : Instillation of 2-3 drops of anu thailam or cow's ghee replenishes the lung and nourishes the kapha dosha. This procedure should be done in the early morning. The medicine should be dropped into the nostrils and sniffed for better results. It is also known to replenish the eyes, nose and throat.
- The lung detox tea: Sipping tea prepared from ginger, muletti and turmeric added with Khand (sugar candy) is known to liquefy kapha dosha thus rejuvenating the lung.
- Steaming therapy (swedana):Use of peppermint/ kapoor/ eucalyptus in hot water for steaming helps in removing the deposits from the respiratory tract.
- Fumigation or Dhoopana of the house with aguru or guggulu maintains the air density levels.
- Intake of chyavanaprasha – 1 tsp at night improves the general immunity and maintains a healthy lungs.
REMEDY FOR RESPIRATORY COMPLAINTS
- Relieves chronic cough,sinusitis, asthma and allergic bronchitis
- Fights infection
- Boosts respiratory health
One-two tablespoons to be taken with milk or warm water, twice a day.
Not suitable for Diabetic patients. Or as directed by the physician.
Diet and lifestyle to protect your lungs from pollution
- Herbs such as black pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, and spices in your diet.
- Garlic contains allicin that clears the airbags of the lungs.
- Keep sipping hot water throughout the day.
- Palm jaggery is known to protect the lung and air passages from accumulated dust. Suck a piece of palm jaggery after meals. Or enjoy it with ginger tea or coffee.
- Warm food and drinks preferably home cooked food.
- A mask to protect yourself from highly dense particles in the air.
- Intake of cold water /beverages
- The intake of dairy as it aggravated the phlegm and does not help in clearing off the airways.
- Bathing in cold water
- Exposure to air . Stay indoors.
- Opening windows during the day.
Pranayama for a healthy lung
- Practice of Anulom-vilom pranayama helps in improving the lung capacity. practice this breathing exercise for atleast 15 minutes in a day. Inhale slowly for 3-5 seconds and hold the breath for 6-8 seconds. Deepen the exhalation and try to hold the breath for a considerable amount of time.
- Also practise Kapalbhaati :Kapalabhati means skull shining breath. It’s a pranayama exercise as well as an internal kriya, or cleansing technique. Practitioners of kapalabhati believe that this breath will help clear mucus in the air passages, relieve congestion, reduce bloating, and improve lung capacity. Kapalabhati is an invigorating breath that can build heat in the body.
- Bhastrika pranayama: Take a deep breath in (inhale), filling the lungs with air. After that gently breathe out.In this technique, inhaling and exhaling should take the same length of time-2.5 seconds to breathe in and 2.5 seconds to breathe out.While you breathe in (inhale) assume that you are taking in positive energy and vibrations, and that you are being energized by them.During breathe out (exhale), imagine that you are taking out all the toxins from our body and mind.
The Journal of medicine and science examined the effect of yogic breathing technique called bastrika pranayama to improve the air capacity of the lungs. Researchers found there was a significant change in the lung efficiency and capacity of the yoga group, as they had more maximum ventilation volume, more forced vital capacity, more forced expiratory volume, and higher levels of peak expiration flow.
While doing the breathing exercises, never force or strain yourself but try your best. Eventually your lung capacity will improve day by day.
Yogasana for a healthy lungs:
- Pavana muktasana