Our respiratory health is impacted by indoor and outdoor levels of pollution, toxic particles, and the strength of our immune system. Respiratory illnesses include but are not limited to: asthma, pulmonary and overall difficulty breathing due to environmental toxins.
Good ozone, which is found 10-30 miles above the earth’s surface, protects us from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays and is healthy to breath. However, bad ozone (smog) causes numerous health problems including cancer. Smog is created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and organic compounds that easily become vapors or gases (VOCs) in the presence of heat and sunlight. In other words, smog is formed when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources react chemically due to heat and the presence of sunlight. Hence, air pollution is worse in warmer climates and in the summer-time.
People who are especially at risk and suffer the most from pollution include children, elderly, and people who suffer from asthma, lung disease, or a weakened immune system. Symptoms include but are not limited to: reduced lung function, shallow breathing, pain when breathing, soreness in your throat, chest tightness, inflamed and damaged cells which line your lungs (luckily these cells shed and are replaced every few days), bronchial infections, bronchitis, emphysema, aggravated asthma, premature lung decline due to natural aging process.
What can we do to mitigate the effects of smog and or aid our individual respiratory health?
First, we can control our indoor environment by adding air purifiers, humidifiers, and aromatherapy diffusers. Second, we can take supplements to aid our lungs and reduce the inflammatory response caused by airborne toxins. These include the following: ginger, reishi, and homeopathic-Histaminum. Third, we must build our immune system by taking the following vitamins: vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E. Specifically, vitamin C and Vitamin B6 are most important. Vitamin C fights against oxidative stress, which can lead to constriction of bronchial airways. Vitamin B6 is required for over 60 different enzyme reactions, most of which are involved in respiratory functions. Finally, we must increase our consumption of antioxidants. Antioxidants kill free radicals and thus combat oxidative stress, which is a main contributor to bronchial dysfunction.
In addition to pollution, there are certain medications which deplete our bodies of essential nutrients required for respiratory health. For example, magnesium is depleted by most medications; yet, magnesium is directly required for lung function. Magnesium deficiency will cause airway hyper reactivity and wheezing. Theophylline, is another common medication which will deplete B6; thus, supplementation is required.
If you are having any respiratory problems or just want to insure your respiratory health is strong, we invite you to come into Metro Integrative Pharmacy and talk to one of our Practitioners about your individual concerns. At Metro Integrative Pharmacy, you will find everything you need to aid your lungs in healthy breathing.
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This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. The information in this article is for educational purposes only.