• Courtney Moore

TLC for the Lungs During Fire Season

In Chinese medicine, we always want to nourish the lungs during the dry autumn season. This is especially true if the air is full of smoke and particulate matter as the world burns down around us. Generally we choose foods and herbs that are moistening, nourishing, and cooling. Here are a few options you can try at home.

Congee is a type of porridge made with rice. The basic method of preparing congee is to boil rice of just about any kind in water, at about a 1:8 ratio (i.e., for 1 cup of rice use 8 cups of water). The rice should be cooked for at least 30 to 45 minutes (less if you use a pressure cooker), until the rice starts breaking apart and the entire mixture has a smooth milky-white appearance. You can serve with condiments like peanuts, sesame seeds, scallions, soy sauce, smoked salmon, or sautéed kale.

Steamed pears with honey or rock sugar is one of the classic remedies for dry lungs. You can add whole fritillaria bulbs to sooth a chronic dry cough as well. Core, peel, drizzle with honey or stuff with rock sugar, and steam until tender.

Chrysanthemum, mint, barley, and goji berry teas are moistening and cooling. To prepare a tea, take 1-2 teaspoons of any of these dried herbs (or use all three!) and add to 1-2 cups of boiling hot water. Let steep and sip throughout the day. If dryness symptoms are present, such as dry eyes or nose, or slight constipation, honey can be added to taste.

Powdered herbal formula Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang. I was researching a formula for a patient and came across this powdered formula, which looks ideal for the current air quality conditions. I can send you a prescription directly if you'd like to try it out. Actions of these herbs include:

  • Nourishing Yin

  • Clearing Lung Heat

  • Clearing Toxins

  • Benefitting the Throat

  • Expelling Phlegm

  • Relieving Coughing

And, of course, if the air quality is poor where you are, be sure to run a HEPA filter and stay indoors as much as possible. Take care of your lungs! Oxygen intake affects your whole system dramatically. Clean out your airways to reduce inflammation and maximize oxygen intake.

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