Herbs and Foods for Lung Health

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Autumn is the season aligned with the lung and large intestine. It is important to nurture these organ systems; especially, in the midst of the fires that we are experiencing here in the Western US this year! Grief, loss and sadness are primary emotions of the lungs. Releasing toxins and letting go is a primary function of the large intestine. Breath is life and it is important to nurture the emotions that impact our lungs as well as giving general care to keep our respiratory system functioning optimally — especially, when environmental stressors are upon us!

Herbs and foods that I recommend for the lungs are the following. You can find these herbal supplements in the lung health section in most natural food stores. Please note that I did not include details about Osha Root in the list because it is endangered and best not to seek it out at this time.  

  • Mullein is common in CA, if it is not burning! Infusion of mullein is a useful remedy for dry, irritated lungs and throat.
  • Astragalus is a lung tonic in TCM. It is used for strengthening and tonifying Qi, our life force energy, and immune system. Therefore, it is great for colds, flu and any respiratory ailment such as breathing difficulties including asthma.
  • Reishi is a mushroom that is also a tonic that aids in the health of the lungs, liver, heart, kidneys and blood; but particularly, it strengthens the respiratory and immune systems.
  • Wild Cherry Bark is alleviates rapid or shallow breathing patterns that can result from asthma and bronchial infections. It aids in strengthening the respiratory system when fighting infection. It is often found in cough syrup and cough medicinal formulas.
  • Boswellia is frankincense and is available in different botanical forms has been shown to reduce COPD symptoms, responses that trigger emphysema and other respiratory symptoms that cause lung and bronchial inflammation and increased mucus; opening bronchial airways and keeping them open.
  • Elecampane Root can be used as a respiratory tonic and can also help to speed the recovery process for lingering lung infections. It is specific for respiratory conditions with excessive bronchial secretions, such as bronchitis and for irritation of the trachea and bronchi that results in persistent and irritable coughing. Elecampane has a soothing action and reduces excess mucus.
  • Licorice helps soften and cleanse mucus membranes in your throat and lungs with antibacterial and antiviral compounds. Licorice root also contains saponins that help loosen built-up mucus so it can be more easily expelled from your lungs. 
  • Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and an important antioxidant that has been shown to improve lung function; even in smokers.

Foods that I recommend for the lungs include many that are harvested this time of year! Tomatoes, beets, beet greens, peppers, apples, pears, blueberries, pumpkins, cabbage and Swiss chard are all wonderful with so many compounds that support lung function. Many of these also contain Vitamin C!

Take care of yourself! This is an intense time on so many levels. Honor how you feel and nurture yourself to feel vital in the midst of this chaotic world!

Much Love, Anita