• Jayne Tamburello

Lungs on fire


A subscriber asks if there are herbs that can help with her asthma. She says "I have recently been diagnosed with asthma, due to the northern CA fires. My doctor prescribed prednisone to reduce the inflammation. Is there a more natural way to accomplish the same goal? I have been drinking mullein & thyme tea, though probably not enough to be medicinal."

The fires in Santa Rosa, CA were intense and horrifying. I know, I was there too. Even with proper N95 masks and staying indoors as much as possible, for hundreds of miles people and animals were affected by the poor air quality. We saw the immediate effects that air pollution (and stress!) had on respiratory systems and we’re now beginning to see the long term effects.

The good news is that removal of the irritants can result in remission. So, now that the air quality has improved, your lungs may begin to do so as well. You are wise to support this process early on since asthma can worsen over time. You're off to a great start with your choice of mullein leaf (Verbascum thapsus) tea! Mullein leaf is an excellent lung respiratory tonic to have on board to improve the health of mucous membranes, at a dose of 12-24 grams daily! A word of caution - Be sure to strain out the mullein leaf hairs when you prepare your tea as they can be irritating, which is the last thing your lungs need right now!

Asthma is a complex respiratory disorder. It's a spasmodic condition linked to hyper-responsiveness of the airways. Asthma attacks are a symptom of an underlying immune disturbance, therefore, any treatment solely aimed at reducing inflammation and relaxing the airways can help you to feel better (which is important of course!) but doesn’t get to the root of the problem. So, you want to be sure to address the multiple systems being affected, including the immune system and its role in inflammation. And, with asthma, the higher end of the dosage range of herbs generally produces the best results.

Some herbal options to support environmentally-induced asthmatic lungs include:

  • Baical Skullcap root (Scutellaria biacalensis) for its anti-allergic and anti-asthmatic properties, thanks to flavonoids including baicalin and baicalein.

  • Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) & Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) for their immune supportive, tonifying (stress reducing) & inflammation reducing properties.

  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa) & Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) to further reduce inflammation and to soothe and moisten (marshmallow) a hot & dry respiratory system.

Of course, when working with an herbalist, a protocol would be tailored specifically to your individual symptom picture. However, here’s an example protocol that you might consider:

  1. Mullein + marshmallow tea: 12-24 grams of mullein leaf infused in hot water and cooled. Then add 6-10 grams of marshmallow root powder, shake and drink once daily (or divided up into several doses during the day). That slimy goodness is part of the medicinal magic!

  2. Turmeric caps, such as curamin or Gaia’s Turmeric Supreme. Or, for a more economical option, consume turmeric powder, 5-15 grams daily (build up slowly to avoid GI upset), with some fat and black pepper to enhance absorption and bioavailability. Note: store your turmeric powder in a glass container, do not store it in plastic as the potent constituents eat away at the plastic causing a mess when the bag fails, or worse, plastic in your powder.

  3. A custom tincture of the following herbs in equal parts: Licorice root, Baical Skullcap root and Reishi mushroom. Start with 1 teaspoon 2 times daily for a week then increase to 1 tsp 3 times a day. And, as we know, herbs do not work in a vacuum! Be sure to also have plenty of healthy lifestyle choices in place including a anti-inflammatory diet with lots of fresh vegetables and, as best you can, get adequate exercise to support your detoxification pathways -- sweat when you're able! We're rooting for you and your lungs! Ready to AskTheHerbalists? Subscribe here!

#asthma #mullein #marshmallow #turmeric #baicalskullcap #licorice #fire #reishi

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