Smoke Inhalation

With over a month of breathing smoke our lungs, lymph, liver, spleen and kidneys (our detox organs) have been working over time. Here are some ideas to deal with smoke, and help recover from smoke inhalation.

It’s easy to get smoke and ash particles in your lungs but not so easy to get them out. So watch the online sites, or news, to keep updated on air quality. Keep in mind, you’re not just breathing burning trees. You’re breathing the chemically treated wood used for telephone poles and building materials, heavy metals from pipes and electrical wire, and the insulation and multiple toxins from burning buildings.

When the air quality is unhealthy wear a mask when you go outside. When smoke is a long-term problem, wear a mask even when air quality is unhealthy for sensitive people. Any mask won’t do. The best ones have a built in plastic filter on the front. These masks are more effective, more comfortable, easier to breath in, and don’t fog up glasses. And most important, they must be marked with the N95 rating. Ace Hardware is the most consistent source I’ve found of this type of mask in Ashland. If Ace Hardware is out, they’re good about letting you know when their next shipment is coming in.

Skin also helps us detoxify. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there’s a direct correlation between the health of your skin and your lungs. So keeping your skin clean and in good shape benefits your lungs.

Exfoliate your skin daily by scrubbing with a wash cloth or bath brush in a steamy shower. You can lightly scrub your skin, with sea salt, to exfoliate and supply some much needed trace minerals to your body. In times of physical stress the body needs more nutrients, including trace minerals. Epsom Salts baths are a great way to get trace minerals in and toxins out. Epsom Salts can be drying so you might want to moisturize your skin with coconut oil after your bath.

Dry brushing helps move the lymph. Using a dry bath brush, start at the hands and feet and gently brush up the arms and legs toward the armpits and groin, where the major lymph nodes are located. Brush under the eyes towards the glands on your throat, located under your ears, and then down your neck towards your armpits. This helps dissipate sluggishness, physical discomfort and reduces bags under the eyes.

Change the air filter in your heating and air conditioning unit every 4-6 weeks instead of the usual three months. Instead of auto cool or heat, keep the fan running to circulate and filter the air. Get a good air purifier to run in the house.

Check online to review ratings on a good model and brand. A humidifier is also a good idea.

Honeywell makes a humidifier that’s easily cleaned to avoid mold production. If you already have a humidifier, be sure to check it for mold so you aren’t adding additional toxins to your lungs.

Breathing smoke can make us sluggish, so it’s even more important to exercise when dealing with this type of physical assault. Pumping your arms and legs stimulates the lymph glands, pushing toxins out of your body. When exercising outdoors isn’t an option, or if you can’t get to the gym, walk around the house, up and down stairs, or walk in place while watching TV. For women it’s most effective to walk without a bra, since the movement of the breasts aid the lymph glands under your arms. As soon as the air has cleared, getting outside to exercise will help us all clean and repair our organs faster.

Acupuncture can strengthen the lungs and aid breathing. Prescribed formulas can help rebuild the lung lining. So if you’re having any smoke related health issues, or want to get your body back in shape after the smoke clears, get in to see me or your own Acupuncturist.

Even after the smoke has dissipated, the continual assault we’ve had on our lungs leaves us vulnerable to respiratory problems. The Ashland Co-op, Market of Choice and Shop N Kart carry Plum Blossom brand Gan Mao Ling, a Chinese herbal formula for killing viruses. Stock up now. If they’re out, ask them to place an order for you. Take a dose every 3-4 hours at the first sign of cold or flu. Don’t wake yourself up to take pills but have a dose counted out by your bed with a glass of water, to take if you do wake up. Continue until all symptoms are gone and then three times a day, for an additional 2 days, to make sure the virus is eradicated.

If the virus persists more than a day or two after starting Gan Mao Ling, your mucous turns yellow, you have profuse nasal discharge, phlegm blocking your sinuses, sinus pain or pressure, or phlegm moving into your chest, get in to see me or your own Acupuncturist. At that point, you need prescribed herbal formulas to clear specific types of phlegm from the nose, sinuses, chest, throat or head and resolve viral, bacterial or fungal infections. When you call to make an appointment, be sure to briefly describe your symptoms to your Acupuncturist, so hopefully they can get you in quickly.

The Ashland Co-op, Market of Choice and Shop N Kart also carry Plum Blossom brand Jade Screen.

This formula is effective at building up the immune system to prevent colds, flu and allergies. The pills are tiny, so the adult dose is 8 pills 3 times per day. If a family member or coworker has a cold or flu then it’s advisable to take Jade Screen 4 times per day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and before bed are usually the easiest times to remember to take pills. A daily maintenance dose, year round, once or twice a day builds the immune system. Starting this formula now can help keep you healthy during smokey periods and the upcoming cold and flu season.

Between the smoke and inactivity it’s easy to fall off the wagon when it comes to diet. So remember to eat a wide range of organic vegetables with organic protein, three times per day, to initiate the second phase of liver detoxification (which pushes toxins out of the body), keep your energy up, and help all your organs function well.

Avoid dairy, including yogurt and butter. Dairy creates a huge amount of mucous and phlegm. The mucous will create a hospitable environment for sinus and lung infections.

Avoid sugars. Sweets impair the immune system. The smoke has already slammed your immune system. You don’t need to put further strain on it by eating sugar in assorted foods and drinks. If you need help eradicating sweet cravings come and see me.


A strain on one organ places stress on all your organs. So doing what you can now to protect your lungs, immune system, detoxify and stay healthy can prevent an assortment of health issues in the future.

Health & Happiness,

Nancy Burton, L.Ac. (Licensed Acupuncturist)
For Appointments Call: 541-646-0134

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Nancy Burton, L.Ac. is a Licensed Acupuncturist. She incorporates Acupuncture, Herbs, Tui Na (Chinese Medicinal Massage), Homeopathics, Nutritional Supplements, Muscle Testing, and Nutritional Counseling and Therapy in her practice. Her goal is to give patients the tools they need to achieve and maintain good health.

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