School of Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion
The lungs are unusual among organs because they are filled with air and are relatively dry. Good circulation helps them stay dry, preventing fluid buildup. Herbs, diet, and lifestyle choices that help the lungs stay dry generally improve respiratory health. The lungs thrive when they are both dry and warm. Cold, damp conditions make the chest and body feel heavy.
Blood chemistry has a strong effect on the lungs. Rich, sweet blood increases mucus formation and fluid buildup. Thus, cakes, cookies, wheat, dairy, and other rich foods can put a strain on your lungs because they make the blood sweet and rich. They should be avoided whenever you have mucus congestion. The heat from spices, on the other hand, increases your heart rate and gets your blood moving. This keeps your lungs dry and improves lung immunity. Hot spices also increase your respiration rate, oxygenating you, and making you feel courageous and bold. So, eat spicy food when congested to clear out the traffic jam and get things moving again!
Congestion and mucus are not always the cause of lung problems. Sometimes, the opposite can happen and the lungs become too dry. A light diet would aggravate lung dryness in this case. When the lungs are too dry, sweeter foods are actually recommended. Ayurveda will always try to uncover the unique imbalance and root cause of a lung disorder, rather than adopting a "one size fits all" approach.
The lungs are very sensitive to toxins (ama). For all lung conditions, eliminate ama from your body by keeping the bowels clean with laxatives and avoiding foods that cause gas and bloating. Avoid dust, air pollution, and chemicals which can harm the lungs. Whenever you have a respiratory condition in the winter, wear a scarf over your mouth to avoid breathing in very cold air directly.
Long life, however, is not the only goal. The chest is also the seat of courage, where we boldly meet our destiny. Long, slow breaths have the quality of meditative stillness. Quick, short breaths have the quality of boldness and action. Both are needed for a life well-lived.
Your breathing rate is connected to your thinking rate. One of the best ways to calm down your mind is by relaxing your breath. Breathing should always be smooth, not choppy. On a full inhalation you should see your belly expand, called belly breathing. This means you are breathing deeply and that your abdomen is relaxed.
The health of the respiratory system lies not just with the lungs, but also the sinuses, nose, mouth, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and the brain.
The respiratory system maintains adequate fluid secretions in the lungs so gaseous exchange can occur. These fluid secretions also support and protect the lungs. The fluids of the respiratory tract are called avalambaka kapha, and have their source in the sugars and carbohydrates absorbed during the digestive process (kledaka kapha).
Vata type processes in the nervous system (prana vayu) control the breath rate, depth of inhalation, and the tension in the breath. When these are disturbed, breathing becomes erratic. Pitta type processes (bhrajaka Pitta) bring the heat that is responsible for maintaining blood flow to the lungs, while Kapha processes secrete the lung's protective mucosal lining.
Try to keep the throat relaxed while in a coughing fit to minimize irritation, which will only make the coughing worse. If your nose is stuffed up, you may be forced to breath through your mouth, which will also irritate your lungs and make your coughing worse. Over several days, a dry cough can develop into wheezing and tightness in the chest if the lungs are not properly protected.
Soothe the lungs by keeping a humidifier in the room. This is essential to prevent a dry cough from descending deeper into the lungs. A Spiced Milk Honey Lung Tonic will nourish and moisten the lungs, which is especially good for susceptible Vata individuals. Add licorice root for even stronger soothing, coating effect. Lemon & Honey Ginger Tea is also helpful. The sourness in lemon and the sweetness in honey moisten the throat, offering reprieve and comfort. Ginger is a cardiac stimulant that increases blood flow to the lungs which will help eliminate excess mucus.
These Lung tonics can help build strength and nourish tissues, particularly after a period of illness. First among lung tonics and immune boosters is chyavanprash, a famous herbal jam given to kids and adults alike to prevent and reduce the severity of coughs and colds!
Find Ayurvedic health remedies In these main areas:Nose and Sinuses