We are in the midst of serious smoke problems. Fortunately, we have very few to no fires in our direct vicinity, however, we are surrounded by fires in all directions and this has caused our air quality to hit “hazardous” level. We are definitely beginning to feel the effects of it: sore throats, stuffed heads, congestion, chest tightness, low energy and headaches.
Unfortunately leaving the area is simply not an option for us, we have too many animals and responsibilities on our homestead to do that. However, we are taking a few steps to help reduce the risks associated with this type of air quality.
Here are things that can help you during this time:
- Stay inside as much as possible. This seems like a no-brainer, but I think people really don’t understand the difference between the air inside (even though our homes are not fully sealed) and the smoke-filled air outside. If you have some way to filter air or an area of the house that is mostly underground try to spend most of your day there.
- If you have to go outside, wear a mask. We have basic medical masks that we get damp and put on before anyone goes out to do chores. It helps keep the smoke out of our lungs and the water helps moisten our throats.
- Do not exercise or do vigorous activity outside OR inside during this time. If you increase your breathing it will only increase your lungs’ exposure to the smoke. No one will die from not working out for a few days. Take a break and allow your body to use its energy to clean out the toxins.
- Drink water but don’t go overboard. You want to stay hydrated and it will help keep the toxins moving through, but too much water will just be eliminated as urine without doing much good. Drink your normal recommended amount and you’ll be fine.
- If your throat is hurting use some demulcent herbs which will soothe your throat: marshmallow, licorice, plantain, slippery elm are good choices. Honey can be added and it brings the additional benefit of soothing the throat as well as anti-bacterial properties.
- If you are struggling with feeling some restriction when breathing due to irritation from the smoke you may try taking some herbs that help open your airways like lobelia and peppermint and maybe add some oregano for the antihistamine and decongestant benefits.
- Rest if you can. Your body is working hard right now to process the pollution it is encountering. One of the best ways to support the body is give it the necessary energy to maintain health.
Here are a couple of recipes to use during this time.
Throat Soothing Lozenges
The following recipe originally comes from Leslie Tierra’s book: A Kid’s Herb Book
- Make a tea of licorice using ½ cup of water and 1 teaspoon chopped licorice root. Simmer covered for 10 minutes, then strain. You should have ¼ cup tea. If less, add a little water to make ¼ cup liquid.
- Put ½ cup slippery elm powder in a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour ¼ cup tea (or plain water if you don’t have licorice tea) into the hold and gently mix into the slippery elm powder to make a smooth dough.
- Sprinkle some slippery elm powder on a clean flat surface and roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness.
- Cut lozenges into small circles – a tiny bottle cap, such as the lid from a vanilla extract bottle works well. Or roll dough into small balls, flatten and smooth the edges with your fingers. Make sure all the edges are smooth so the lozenges aren’t sharp when you suck on them. You can press designs into each lozenge if you like. Set evenly spaced on a plate. Leave out uncovered overnight or for a day or two until completely hardened. (If you live in a really damp environment you may need to put them in a dehydrator or in the oven on the lowest setting to get them completely dry.)
- Store in a dark bottle or tin in a cool, dry, dark place. They will keep for months if you get them completely dry
- Suck on the pill so it dissolves in your mouth and coats your throat to heal your throat and lungs. These can be taken liberally.
Marshmallow tea (Althea officinalis)
- ¼ cup of marshmallow root (you can add 1 tsp of licorice root as well)
- Pint Jar
- Fill jar to top with cool or lukewarm water
- Steep 4-8 hours. It will become more mucilaginous as it sits (thick).
- Strain and drink. You can add honey and lemon as well.
Though cold infusion marshmallow tea is preferred, sometimes we don’t know we need it until the minute we need it. To make an instant tea.
- 1 Tbsp Marshmallow root
- 2 cups water
- Put all ingredients in a pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Optional: add honey and lemon
Marshmallow is also anti-microbial and can stimulate phagocytosis.