The California wildfires are some of the largest in history. We ran these tips from holistic nutritionist and wellness expert, Kristin Dahl in 2018 and, sadly, they are relevant again.
We’re a community in need of healing on all levels, whether you’ve been affected firsthand or not. Below, Kristin shares this intensive A-Z guide on how to support your system now and ongoing, as we continue to recover over the next few months. Read through and send to any loved ones in need…
The recent California wildfires have been absolutely devastating for so many. Those in Los Angeles are surrounded by streams of heavy smoke and congested air and many Northern California communities are experiencing air that is unbearable. Though some are feeling slight effects like headaches, scratchy eyes and throat, others are experiencing strong effects and finding it incredibly difficult to breathe. Regardless of whether you are feeling it or not, there is a lot of smoke and small particles filling the air. Do what you can to take care of yourself now, to protect your current and long-term health.
Limit time outdoors and overexertion. If you are able to relocate for a few days or longer to a clean-air area, then do it! Symptoms of smoke inhalation include: headaches (most common), shortness of breath, wheezing, sore/scratchy throat, coughing, sneezing, burning/dry/bloodshot/watery eyes, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, and mental confusion.
If you have inhaled excess smoke or feel excessively unwell – please seek medical attention.
Daily NourishmentHydration is a MUST | Make sure you are drinking plenty of filtered spring water every day.
Warm Wellness Tonics | Make a blend of fresh ginger, lemon, raw honey and tea; drink often.
Toss Back Broths | Bone, vegetable, miso, herbal, seaweed – chicken soup, kitchari, curries and soups can be comforting, nourishing and immune boosting at this time. This immunity soup is also a lovely option.
Raw Honey | Raw honey has healing, soothing, immune boosting properties. Learn about the medicinal benefits of raw honey here.
Stock Up On Vitamin C | Consume lots of lemon and citrus fruits (peels can be added to teas or broths) and other vitamin C-rich foods like bell peppers and kiwi.
Fresh Herbs Help | Culinary herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary, and oregano support immunity through antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal actions. Add to soups, stews, and herbal steams. Fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro help to support the liver and clear metals. Add to salads, soups, smoothies, juices, dips and sauces.
Lots of dark leafy greens | Eat as many dark leafy greens as possible to support detox. Consume chlorophyll-rich foods like sprouts, chlorella, parsley, and watercress.
Drink Fresh Celery Juice | This magical detox juice is diuretic, cleansing, anti-inflammatory, a natural electrolyte balancer, gut and liver support, helps clear toxins and prevents/clears urinary tract infections. Learn more about the benefits here.
Snack on Seaweed | Seaweed contains a variety of protective antioxidants. Add to broths, soups, stews, when making rice or beans – lots of yummy recipes here.
Probiotic + ferments | Fermented foods supports gut health and immunity. Load up on sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kefir, kimchi, coconut yogurt.
Prebiotic-rich foods | Prebiotics are just as important as probiotics. Eat lots of fiber-rich artichoke, apples, asparagus, bananas, dandelion greens, chicory root.
Fill Up On Fiber | Fiber binds to internal toxins and draw them out of your system through your stools. Consume psyllium husk, ground flax seed, chia seeds, oats, oat bran, kiwi, figs, raspberries – this turmeric porridge is also a yummy option.
Eat For The Lungs | Foods that support the lungs include apples, pears, almonds, oats, sesame seeds, sprouted grains and seeds, radishes, turnips, rutabaga, rice, onion, garlic, schisandra, astragalus, cordyceps.
Simple cleansing juice | My favorite recipe: 4-6 stalks celery, 1 handful parsley, juice of 1 lemon, a small knob of ginger. Optional add-ins: 1/4th tsp of activated charcoal (stir in with juice), 1 tbsp bee pollen, ½ tsp chlorella (choose 1 add-in at a time).
Reduce/Eliminate | Alcohol, processed foods, fried foods, burned foods, excess caffeine (too much can add to anxiety / nervous system stress), excess sugar. All of the above tend to add to inflammation, decrease immunity, and feed the flu. Reach for healthier options like organic wine (Frey is great!), organic green tea or yerba mate, natural sugars from fruit, dates, raw honey, and minimally processed foods with 5-10 ingredients or less (brands like Siete, Simple Mills, Jacksons, Honest and Birch Benders are great!
Helpful HerbsFor Lung support | Mullein (clearing), marshmallow (soothing), licorice (protecting), nettle (nourishing), yerba santa (clearing), calendula (healing)
For Nervous System Support | lemon balm (calming), tulsi (immune/lungs/restoring), oat straw & milky oat tops (both nourishing + anti-anxiety), passionflower (sleep support) and *chamomile (calming) (*great for kids!!). *Soaked and strained tea bags can be used to soothe eyes. ⠀ ⠀
For Immune Support / Anti-inflammatory | Reishi (lung, immune, liver support), astragalus (immune), ginger (cleansing, clearing, circulation, anti-inflammatory), turmeric (anti-inflammatory, immunity, healing, liver support), echinacea (immunity, respiratory support)
A Simple infusion recipe: 2-4 tbsp mullein, 2-4 tbsp nettle, 1-3 tbsp marshmallow – add herbs to a 32 oz glass mason jar, cover with boiling water – top lightly with a lid and steep for 4 hours. Strain (well) and then drink – rotate this with other lung clearing options and ginger tea & then shift to holy basil and/or Schisandra infusions.
For Cleansing + clearing | Activated charcoal, chlorella, chlorophyll – liquid or capsule, burdock root, dandelion root
Do your best with what you have – the less stress, the better. If you’re looking for herbs, mountain rose herbs is a great option or check out the bulk section at your local coop. traditionsl medicinals teas – breathe easy, throat coat, chamomile – a few wonderful options! (just add a couple extra bags and steep longer for more potent blends). Companies like herb pharm are great for tinctures!
Steam with: eucalyptus, thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Lavender (*fresh or dried herbs are best)
Herbal steams can be helpful to draw debris out of the nose, throat and lungs. You can use culinary herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary, and oregano, or just a drop or two of eucalyptus oil. Use caution with essential oils as they are concentrated, incredibly strong and could be too aggressive if overdone. Adding a few drops to your shower is an easy way to steam with essential oils. The simplest way to create a steam is to boil water, place a large pot in the sink, add culinary herbs and cover with boiling water. Cover your head with a large towel over the pot and breathe deeply.
Supportive SupplementsImmune Boost: Vitamin C and Vitamin D
Hydration /Oxygen Transport: Mineral drops
Gut Health / Immune Support: Probiotics and Zinc (if you’re starting to feel the flu coming on)
Heavy Metal Detox: Chlorella Powder
Liver Support: Chlorophyll – tincture or capsules. Oxygenates the blood, supports the liver, builds red blood cells.
*please speak with a holistic practitioner or herbalist before taking or combining any herbs or supplements – I’m here if you need support!
Support For Short-Term Smoke ExposureLimit time outdoors | Get out of the bad air for a few days if possible.
Drink infusions | I recommend a blend of mullein, nettles, and marshmallow root daily. Drink ginger, lemon, and raw honey tea daily as well. I’ve been taking this lung tincture daily (there are many great ones out there, take a peek at your local coop). I’ve also been drinking Tulsi tea daily
Activated charcoal | This can be quite drying and sometimes constipating, so don’t overdo it or take it every day.
Coat Your Nose | Lubricate your nasal passages with a bit of coconut or sesame oil.
Essential Oils | Use lavender for calming, relaxing. Add a few drops to your magnesium bath. Try Eucalyptus for lung clearing, decongestant. It’s great for a steam shower.
Breathe Clean Air | Get an air filter and run on high daily for a few days.
Long-Term SupportUse a neti pot | Use a neti pot to deeply clear nasal passages.
Try Schisandra | Try incorporating this powerful herb for 30-100 days *may be too activating for some. For others, it’s restoring and rejuvenating
Eat + Drink To Heal | Continue eating a rainbow of foods, lots of leafy greens. Use ginger and turmeric daily in recipes, teas, and tincture or capsule form. Continue drinking teas and using herbs that feel supportive to you
Get Moving | Move your body and lymph often. Exercise, get a massage, use the steam room and sauna, try the rebounder. Take hot and cold showers, practice self-massage, skin brushing, detox mustard baths, magnesium flake baths, acupuncture, and cupping.
Incorporate Supportive Supplements | Add in milk thistle, which will help support and regenerate the liver. Add in NAC which helps break up mucus, supports the liver, lungs, and respiratory system, lowers inflammation, builds antioxidants and boosts glutathione. Add in adaptogens like reishi (for stress reduction and immunity), cordyceps (lung and inflammation reduction), chaga (immunity and inflammation), and ashwagandha (stress support).
Coffee Enemas | Consider coffee enemas which can help to cleanse the liver and stimulate glutathione production. Wylder makes a great probiotic coffee blend.
Get An IV Drip | If you’re feeling incredibly depleted it may be helpful to get a vitamin IV drip (with/without glutathione), or vitamin C drip (be sure to clear this with your holistic practitioner first).
Do What Works For You | Again, choose whatever you feel most drawn to or comfortable with. There is absolutely no need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars or use everything in this guide. Use what you have or purchase a couple of items that you feel would be most helpful for you right now. The infusions have been working wonders for me and the chlorophyll is a powerful way to re-oxygenate the system, support the liver and build red blood cells. Using a variety of culinary herbs, whole foods, soups, stews, and broths and ginger, honey and lemon tea can be incredibly healing. If you are in need of further guidance, please reach out, I would love to support you!
Allow yourself to feel as much grief as you need at this time. Let the tears fall and keep your loved ones close. Be gentle and rest as much as you need. My heart is with you.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.
Thank you so much for caring. We needed this info. due to lungs and chest tight from smoke.
The air quality has been very bad lately due to the fires (ash is still floating in the air where I live) so this information is very helpful! Thanks so much for posting this!