As the California wildfires rage across the state, the air is becoming increasingly toxic due to the types of materials being burned. Above all else, people have been advised to stay indoors, use N95 masks when they go outside, and (if possible) to use air purifiers with HEPA filters in the home.
If you're anything like me, the smoke-filled skies and unending devastation are beginning to take their toll. The tips below are some of the herbal-based practices that I've been incorporating into my life to try and stay healthy amidst all the destruction.
My heart goes out to all those affected by the fires, and I'm wishing every being and creature comfort and safety as they navigate this challenging time.
FIRE TEA 🌿
I've been sipping on tulsi, elderberry, mullein, ginger, and honey tea for the past week. This lovely blend contains medicinal plants that have traditionally been used to tone the lungs, boost the immune system, calm the nerves, and warm the body. I make sure to strain this blend extra well, as the fine hairs on mullein can tickle the throat. I use the finest mesh strainer that I have, which in my case is the same bag I use to make nut milk, but you can also use a coffee filter. This morning I woke up feeling a little extra dry, so I threw some marshmallow root in there as well. This demulcent (slimy) herb has historically been used to help soothe dry and irritated membranes, and pairs nicely with the honey too.
Don't have access to the herbs listed above? peppermint and chamomile tea bags - which are available at most grocery stores - sweetened with a little honey, will go a long way as well. Not interested in tea? I'm also trying to eat plenty of brightly colored fruits and veggies, drink lots of water, and get lots of rest.
Most of the herbs mentioned can be found locally (in the East Bay) at Harvest House in Concord. For those of you in Oakland, Berkeley, or San Francisco - check out Five Flavors Herbs, Alembique Apothecary, or Scarlet Sage Herb Co.
RESPIRATORY STEAMS 🌿The Bay Area is currently experiencing some of the worst air quality in the world and my lungs are definitely paying the price. To help soothe this vital body system I've been turning to one of my favorite herbal remedies - respiratory steams.
I've been combining the anti-inflammatory and nervine properties found in chamomile (Matricaria recutita) with the antimicrobial and antispasmodic qualities found in culinary sage (Salvia officinalis) to make simple respiratory steams. To do this, I add the herbs to a bowl of hot steaming water, carefully hold my head above the bowl (being very mindful not to burn myself), cover my head with a towel, and inhale.
Because I can't steam all-day-long, I've also been keeping a big pot of herbal tea on the stove and letting it simmer throughout the day. I'm careful to go back and check the pot often, making sure that it is full of water so that it doesn't burn. In this blend I've been using sage, chamomile, tulsi, and sometimes thyme - letting the volatile oils found in these plants fill my home all day long.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES 🌿
To learn more about how to protect yourself from the smoke - see this comprehensive list from KQED. For more dietary recommendations, check out this blog from 360MD. To donate to the many people affected by the Butte County fires click here, and to learn more about how you can also help the animals affected by the fires, check out this article from MNN. And last but not least, to find a location where you can pick up free N95 masks, see this site. Stay safe everyone!
The information on this site is for educational, historical, and research purposes, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this site should not be used as medical advice. If you have a medical concern please seek out a qualified health care professional, and always consult your physician before adding herbal supplements into your diet, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or on medication.