2020 continues to challenge all of us.
For those in the audience who live in the Western US, fire season has come on very strong; nearly 10% of Oregon’s population has been put on evacuation notice; a million acres are burning, and the skies are thick with smoke.
If you’re feeling anxious, irritable, or frightened by the air quality, you’re not alone; and your body is telling you this because of our primal fears of fire. On Tuesday last week when the skies turned red, my first instinct was to run. I have been hearing from many of you how terrified you are, and that after sitting with and releasing those fears, you begin to notice the effects of the smoke on your body.
Headaches, sore throats, a burning feeling in the chest, fatigue, and the emotional stresses I mentioned above are all extremely common. Normally, getting some exercise and producing a good sweat can knock these symptoms out; but that isn’t an option when we want to stay inside and breathe less, not more.
A few helpful tips that may offer some relief:
Close up your home and filter your air
Look for cracks around doors and windows where polluted air can come in from outside; put painters’ tape or masking tape around these areas.
- Consider running a humidifier indoors, at least for short periods of time. In some homes this can contribute to mold growth; but the increase in humidity in homes that are well-ventilated can help reduce the oxidative stress to your lungs & mucus membranes from smoke.
- If you have a ducted heat pump, you can sometimes double up your air filters. Use filters that can capture the smallest particles possible. If your filters are old or showing a lot of build-up already, change them.
- If your home does not have central air you can build a combination air conditioner / filter / “swamp cooler” by making a 4-sided box out of air filters which feeds into a box fan on the 5th side (the 6th side is the floor). See photo. About a foot in front of the fan, hang a wet towel on a rack (make sure you put a catch pan beneath the towel so water doesn’t pool on your floor). The fan will suck air through the filters to clean it, and then blow it across the wet towel to cool & moisten it before it circulates in your house.
Simple distractions may be the best strategy
I’m a fan of moderation in all things…including moderation. When I’m faced with primal stress and fear, it’s important to speak it out loud, and then let it go and have fun. Often this practice can give us enough perspective to get a clear mind and heart. But if you look outside again, it will all come flooding back.
Having simple distractions available in times like these can be a real saving grace. Favorite books; meditative arts and crafts; making music; or just taking an afternoon nap and watching an evening movie can all be a great way to pass the time as we wait for the weather to change.
Botanical solutions to inflammatory damage
From my time in Xi’an, I’m well familiarized with using Chinese Medicine to protect the body from smoke and air pollution. The main strategy used there is well represented in our Wind Tea formula which has many ingredients to boost Macrophage function, move and clean Lymph, and cool inflammation in the Lungs and Liver. Start with 1 tea bag per adult per day for mild nasal congestion, and increase up to 5 bags per adult per day for more serious inflammation and fatigue.
When doing research for this email I came across this study from the journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy on a formula used to attenuate acute lung injury from particulate matter. It is based on the classical TCM formula Sheng Mai San which we have in powder form (Call the office to order this, it’s not on our web store). Most notably, this will help with the oppressive fatigue brought on by air pollution and can cool & moisten the delicate tissue of the lungs.
Stay safe out there folks. I know this is a hard year. Together, we will make it through.
You can, as always, respond to this email with any questions or comments. I’m listening.
To your health,
Brehan and the Crawford Wellness crew