Without even noticing, you wake up breathing.
You go for a run and automatically, without trying, your lungs automatically kick into overdrive.
As you start to relax, they slow down. Your lungs help you sleep, keep you calm, and give your organs the oxygen they need to function. All without you having to do a thing. Our lungs work hard for us.
Unfortunately, sometimes we make our lungs work harder than necessary. Whether it’s through smoke, pollution, allergies, or illness, our lungs can become overworked and damaged fairly quickly.
Keeping our lungs clean and clear helps keep the rest of our body healthy as well. A lung cleanse helps give you a stronger connection to your vital life force, oxygen.
How Do Your Lungs Work?
We breathe in, we breathe out. Pretty simple right? Not really.
When you inhale, you use the muscles of your rib cage to suck air into your lungs. As the air enters through your mouth and nose, it is moistened through the body’s natural humidifier and particles of dirt and dust are trapped so they don’t enter the throat.
The air then passes down the windpipe and is divided into your two lungs. The lungs take that oxygen, send it to vital organs, and exhale out carbon dioxide and other waste gases.
How Do You Damage Your Lungs?
Of course, we all know that smoking is not good for our lungs, but you may still be causing damage even if you’ve never touched a cigarette. Getting sick with pneumonia or bronchitis causes damage to the lungs. Generally, the lungs can fully recover on their own, but if they are otherwise compromised, they may be seriously damaged. This is when a full cleanse or lung detox is helpful.
If you smoke, the time to quit was yesterday, as you are causing harm that is sometimes irreparable. Still, the earlier you quit smoking, the greater chance you have of repairing some damage. According to WebMD, smoking causes two kinds of long-term damage to the lungs: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Together, these are known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
If you are struggling to quit smoking, check out this smoking addiction resource here for more information.
As soon as you stop smoking, you begin the path to healthy lungs. One large study found that 20 years after quitting smoking, the risk for COPD drops to the same level as if you’d never smoked.
And after 30 years, the risk of lung cancer also drops to nonsmoking levels. The sooner you quit smoking, the more likely a lung cleanse can be effective and the lungs are able to heal.
A lung detox may be one of the best areas to give your lungs a head start on the road to healing and recovery.
What Is A Lung Cleanse?
According to the Global Healing Center, “A lung cleanse is a natural procedure designed to detoxify, cleanse, and refresh the delicate respiratory linings of the bronchial passages and lungs by purging them of accumulated environmental toxins, harmful organisms, and irritants.”
“You can also help cleanse and strengthen the lungs with deep breathing exercises, massage, or certain herbs and oils with healing properties.”
Basically, a lung cleanse helps to get rid of all the junk we put in there, to begin with.
Benefits Of A Lung Cleanse
Like many areas of the human body, the lungs are a self-cleaning organ. They can heal themselves, but only once the exposure to pollutants stops. When your lungs are exposed to any type of irritation, they feel congested and inflamed as mucus gathers in the lungs.
There are several cleansing techniques to relieve symptoms, but a lung detox can go the extra mile. A lung cleanse can help open up the airways, improve lung capacity, reduce swelling, and reduce the negative effects of pollutants.
Whether you want to improve your lung function, or you want to kick-start a new smoke-free life, a lung cleanse is a great start on the path to a healthy lifestyle.
How To Safely Cleanse Your Lungs?
According to the American Lung Association, it is possible to eliminate pollutants from the lungs, but the process is slow and steady. There are several products on the market that promise big results quickly, but it’s important to use any lung detox product safely. T
he best thing you can do is maintain healthy habits and use natural products and methods that are safe. Usually, a quick fix or instant cleanse is not to be trusted. Instead, healthy long-term habits for lung detox will produce the best results.
Who Needs A Lung Cleanse?
We all live in a world full of harmful chemicals, toxins, and irritants which can exert constant stress upon the lungs. This is why a lung cleanse can be beneficial for anyone, but they are particularly effective smokers, recent ex-smokers, people with lung conditions, or those who live with pets and allergies.
Best Natural Lung Cleanse Methods
There are several methods and techniques for a natural lung cleanse. Some pills, vitamins, masks, and inhalers may promise quick results and drastic changes, these are often not safe. It’s important to use natural lung detox methods that create gradual improvement.
Don’t trust a quick fix. You can use these natural cleanse methods with confidence knowing they do not have adverse effects and can be used safely.
Antioxidants are wonderful for a lung cleanse because they counteract the production of mucus and phlegm in the body, which tend to accumulate in the lungs and airways. This can be especially helpful if you are living with a chronic condition.
Over time, a healthy diet with the necessary vitamins and nutrients will help cleanse your lungs and help them heal from this damage.
What foods are best? Raw fruits and vegetables have plenty of antioxidants, specifically berries and cruciferous vegetables.
One research study in 2010 showed people who consumed the most cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower had close to half the risk of lung cancer as compared to those who ate the least.
Turns out, eating your veggies is important. Here are a few additional guidelines for changing your diet to support a lung cleanse:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens and other items rich in antioxidants.
- Avoid sugars and heavily processed food.
- Honey on its own has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects and has been used since ancient times to treat and soothe many lung and respiratory conditions.
- Berries are a powerful lung-cleansing ingredient, especially cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, goji berries, or acai berries. Berry juice or lung detox water using berries are great options.
- Ginger is a well-documented antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties to break down mucus and improve blood circulation. Use it in cooking, grate it raw on salads, or enjoy ginger tea.
Other foods for healthy lungs include:
- Fatty fish
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
In turn, avoid those foods that tend to cause an increase in mucus production in your body. These tend to include dairy products, processed meat, fast food, and chocolate.
We should probably all be drinking more water anyway, but if you’re looking for a lung cleanse tip, water is a vital one. Hydration is an important part of any cleanse because water helps to speed up the lungs’ healing process.
For a previous smoker or anyone who dealt with a chronic illness, water is critical. Water flushes out toxins, cleanses the lungs, and helps the blood flow freely in and out of the lungs. The general recommendation is 6-8 glasses of water every day, or half your body weight in ounces of water each day.
Additionally, there are other choices to put in your glass throughout the day that might prove beneficial for your lung cleanse:
- Green Tea: Green tea has been studied extensively in Korea and studies show it contains many antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation in the lungs.
- Aloe Vera Juice: Aloe vera juice, which has antioxidant characteristics, may help cleanse the lungs and reduce the damage caused by cigarette smoke. This aloe vera juice by Alo even has honey for some added antibacterial benefit.
If you don’t have a diffuser in your home already, this is a great way to support your lung cleanse throughout the day. Adding several drops of essential oils to a diffuser or humidifier in your home may have serious aromatherapeutic properties for a lung detox.
You don’t want to ever breathe in oil directly, but when used as directed, in a diffuser throughout your home, this can be beneficial. The best essential oils for lung detox include:
- Oregano: Oregano oil is well-known for its ability to deter harmful organisms like fungi and bacteria.
- Tea Tree: Tea tree oil from the famous Australian Melaleuca tree can boost your immune system.
- Eucalyptus: Another oil from Australian, eucalyptus oil has powerful antimicrobial properties against viruses, bacteria, and fungus as well as a long history of using it to effectively promote lung health. It also helps to open your nasal pathways to breathe easier!
- Peppermint: The menthol in peppermint oil can boost exercise performance by increasing lung activity. Use peppermint carefully as some studies indicate that too much may increase nasal congestion so use wisely.
Indoor Air Quality
Those who have lung disease or compromised immunity spend a lot of time indoors. However, sometimes the indoor air quality can actually contribute to the problem. Here are a few suggestions to support your lung cleanse and improve your indoor air quality, particularly if the outdoor air quality is poor.
- Clean up. Good old chores are a good way to clean the air in your home. Regularly wipe down your shelves, ceiling fans, and around your house to keep dust away. Vacuum the carpet three times a week with a good-quality vacuum and mop the floors regularly with natural cleaning products.
- Dehumidify. Many of us like a humidifier to add moisture to the air, but dust and mold also love this moisture. Buy a dehumidifier to keep the balance to prevent mold and avoid too much moisture in the home.
- Test for radon. This naturally occurring radioactive gas can be a contributor to lung cancer. You can pick up a radon test kit at any hardware store and begin remediation if your radon levels are too high.
- Go chemical-free. Instead of using cleaners with harsh chemicals, take steps to make your home chemical-free. Natural cleaning products are easy to find and often very cost-effective. Look for fragrance-free products, and avoid aerosols.
- Enjoy a houseplant. One study in India found a building with many plants reduced eye irritation by 52%, respiratory conditions by 34%, and headaches by 24% in workers! Ferns, spiders, and aloe vera plants all help to purify the air you breathe and look beautiful too.
- Use an air purifier. If necessary, you can purchase a good quality air purifier to remove allergens, dust, and pollutants from the air in your home to aid in your lung cleanse. There are standalone air purifier units to be used in one room, or even a whole-home air filtration system, depending on your needs.
Outdoor Air Quality
A major factor in any lung cleanse depends on the quality of air outside. If you’ve been inhaling unclean air for a long time, it may be time for a lung cleanse. While there isn’t anything you can do to control the quality of the air outside, you can monitor it and take steps to protect yourself.
Industrial areas with large populations of people driving cars every day can have a negative impact on the local air quality. In addition, things like dust, chemicals, and pollutants like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide are very dangerous for your lungs, which is why it’s important to monitor the outdoor air quality.
- Check the air quality in your area using the online Air Quality Index (AQI) tool that will tell you how clean the air is in your area. This measures pollutants, emissions, smog, etc.
- Be proactive on days when the air quality during the day is poor and try to stay indoors.
- Adjust outdoor activities to reduce the amount of pollution you’re breathing in.
- If you live in an area where the air conditions are chronically bad, it may be worth it to change jobs or relocate to a rural city with cleaner air in order to support healthy lung function.
Breathing is how all the cells in your body get oxygen, which is critical for proper organ functioning. The more oxygen your body gets, the better. Breathing exercises can help increase the function of your lungs, and give more oxygen to the body which can aid in a lung cleanse.
- Deep Breathing: Simply taking long, slow, deep breaths helps to spread oxygen throughout the body and helps you to relax.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing: Also known as “belly breathing,” is performed by taking a deep breath in, almost as if you were attempting to breathe all the way in your stomach. Exhale slowly through pursed lips. This creates back-pressure in the alveoli which is great for a lung cleanse.
The diaphragm is a key player in breathing and naturally starts to work less efficiently as we age. This is why breathing exercises to keep the diaphragm strong and healthy can be beneficial.
We all know that exercise is important, but sometimes physical exercise can be even more difficult when your lungs are compromised. Scientists have irrefutable evidence that physical inactivity weakens your whole body and actually worsens the problem, leads to illness, and causes additional symptoms.
The hardest thing about exercising is getting started, even a tiny effort is better than doing nothing at all. Try going for a walk, push your lungs to work harder, get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. If you need help getting started, check out my lazy workout guide.
As you increase your physical activity, you start to breathe hard and deep and that exercise is increasing your lung capacity. As you continue to work, your lungs are better able to keep your heart and muscles supplied with that ever-necessary oxygen.
If you are also stressed out on top of having your lungs compromised, then consider yoga. It is one of the best ways to focus on breathing during exercise. Yoga Burn is a great tool for any stage yogi.
You can exercise inside or outside doing anything you enjoy, just start moving. Here are a few notable benefits and tips when introducing a new exercise routine into your life:
- Regular exercise can decrease the risk of many health conditions, including stroke and heart disease.
- Exercise forces the muscles to work harder and makes the body more efficient in removing the excess carbon dioxide.
- As you work harder, your body will start to adapt to meet the demands of regular exercise. The muscles will learn to use oxygen more efficiently and produce less carbon dioxide.
- Even those with chronic lung conditions can benefit from the cleansing effects of regular exercise.
Things to Avoid During a Lung Cleanse
As you introduce new and healthy foods, drinks, environment, and exercise into your life to cleanse your lungs, there are also a few areas you should intentionally avoid in order to make your lung cleanse more effective.
- Secondhand Smoke. Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do. Avoiding secondhand smoke is the second most important. Secondhand smoke still contains hundreds of toxic chemicals and can perpetuate the problem.
- Vaping. While we are all still learning about the long-term risks of e-cigarettes, short-term risks are clear. Vaping compromises your lung function and makes it more difficult for your lungs to clear out mucus, this leads to infections and serious health problems that can be life-threatening. Quitting vaping is a very similar process and just as hard as quitting cigarettes.
- Infection: Get your vaccines, wash your hands, avoid contact with those who are sick and do everything you can to stay healthy. This helps protect your lungs from working overtime during the cold and flu season.
How To Clear Your Lungs Of Mucus
Let’s talk about mucus. People who suffer from lung disease have a significant amount of fluid in their lungs. Clearing this fluid out is the key to restoring lung health and making breathing easier. In addition to taking the steps outlined above, there are two main ways this can be done.
Chest Percussion (Chest Physiotherapy) – This is a simple procedure in which the chest is clapped with a cupped hand to vibrate the airways and loosen mucus. It is often used by a respiratory therapist in conjunction with postural drainage.
Drain Mucus (Postural Drainage) – This is when a respiratory therapist will position your body in specific ways to use gravity to actually drain the lungs. As the mucus travels through the body, it can be coughed or spit out. Postural drainage techniques differ depending on what you need, but a few options include:
- On your back: Lie down and place pillows under your hips until your chest is lower than the hips. Slowly inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Each exhale should take twice as long as the inhale (this is 1:2 breathing).
- On your side: Lie on one side, resting the head on an arm or pillow with pillows under the hips. Practice the 1:2 breathing pattern and repeat it on the other side.
- On your stomach: Place a stack of pillows on the floor. Lie down with the stomach over the pillows and keep the hips above the chest. Fold the arms under the head for support. Practice the 1:2 breathing pattern.
Castor Oil Packs
This is a slightly unconventional method but has been used for centuries to help clear mucus and toxins from the lungs. First, cut strips of cotton flannel to fit your chest area. Soak the fabric in organic, cold-pressed castor oil and place them on your chest, cover with plastic and place a heating pad on top. Lay under the heat for 1-2 hours. Repeat as necessary. You may want to cover your bedding or couch to protect in case the oil spills.
Using a steam room, or even a pot of boiling water to inhale steam may help open the airways, but this is usually a temporary solution and doesn’t produce lasting effects.
Coughing is a natural lung detox, but controlled coughing uses this function more intentionally to cleanse the lungs. Here’s how it works:
- Sit down on a chair with shoulders relaxed and both feet flat on the floor
- Fold the arms over the stomach
- Slowly inhale through the nose
- Slowly exhale while leaning forward, pushing the arms against the stomach
- Cough 2 or 3 times while exhaling, keeping the mouth slightly open
- Slowly inhale through the nose
- Rest and repeat as necessary
Breathe It All In
We use our lungs every minute of every hour of every day. They don’t get a day off, a break or respite. They get exposed to the pollutants and allergens that we inhale and are victims of the air around us. While your body has an amazing, built-in ability to heal itself, a lung cleanse can help you breathe easier today and boost your immune system later.
The number one way to improve your lung health is to quit smoking. There is no way around it. Nothing you can do will counteract the negative effects of smoking. Make that your first priority. Next, eliminate secondhand smoke from your life.
Once you live in a smoke-free environment, cleanse your lungs by eating a healthy diet, using herbal teas and foods high in antioxidants. Enjoy fresh, clean air both inside and outside and keep your environment as clean as possible. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and splurge on a few houseplants to support your new journey. Now, take a deep breath and enjoy exactly that.