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Respiratory Health

At Santa Cruz Ayurveda, we would like to extend our appreciation and gratitude to those who are fighting the CZU Lightning Complex fires in Santa Cruz and surrounding counties. We extend our hearts to those in the community who have lost their homes to the fires, and we recognize there are more challenges navigating relief resources with COVID still going on. We are proud to be a part of the Santa Cruz community and are devastated by the destruction that has occurred. We encourage you to take care of yourself and love yourself through these difficult times.

We are committed to the longevity and health of our community, and this article will be outlining the dangers of wildfire smoke and some proactive measures to keep your respiratory system protected and healthy. Wildfire smoke irritates the eyes and respiratory system and also worsens heart and lung conditions, especially those who are vulnerable with pre existing conditions and compromised immunity. Fires incite inflammation in all bodily tissues. Children, elders, and those who have lung and/or heart conditions will most likely be affected by wildfire smoke. Limit or cease all outdoor exercise, and opt for low-level exercises, like some gentle yoga.

Amla: Amla is a fruit, also called “Indian Gooseberry” with many rejuvenating qualities. This herb is tridoshic and cooling because it lowers Pitta without disrupting the other doshas. Amla is used to treat bleeding disorders, anemia, diabetes, osteoporosis, and a host of other diseases. Amla contains 20-30 times more Vitamin C, pound for pound, than oranges, and is perfect for maintaining respiratory health during fire season and COVID exposure. Consuming 4000-5000mg of Vitamin C per day during bad air quality days is sufficient. Amla is also a great tonic for the eyes and can improve nearsightedness as well as mitigate the drying effects of wildfire smoke. Amla can be found in pill, powder, and whole fruit form and is the main component of Chyavanprash jelly.

Licorice: Licorice is a strong anti inflammatory root with sweet and bitter tastes that decreases Pitta and Vata, and increases Kapha. Not only does licorice reduce inflammation in the lungs, but also the rest of the respiratory system. Licorice can also help with abdominal pain, bronchitis, ulcers and sore throats.

Honey: Honey is integral in promoting immunity and is excellent at relieving coughs. It is a demulcent, which is a soothing agent that decreases inflammation caused by wildfires. Honey also has natural antimicrobial properties and is a natural sweetener. Consider adding a bit of honey to your tea this week!

Tulsi: Tulsi (also known as “holy basil”) protects all organs and tissues against chemical stress from smoke, heavy metals, physical stress, and industrial pollutants. It is also known for improving cognitive function and has antidepressant and antimicrobial properties. Tulsi is traditionally consumed in powder, tea, whole leaf form and can also be mixed with ghee (clarified butter).

This fire is still not fully contained, so try to keep windows closed, and limit the circulation of smoky air going inside. You can also check the air quality to see if conditions are acceptable to go outside. Though it may be tempting to burn some incense or light a candle due to the smell of the smoke, this will cause the air quality in the home to be more polluted. Also avoid vacuuming, since it stirs up particles in the home. Symptoms of wildfire smoke can be similar to the symptoms of COVID-19, so be sure to take a COVID-19 self-assessment test if you are experiencing difficulty breathing, throat soreness, or a dry cough.

Ayurveda believes treating the whole person, not the disease. The effects of these herbs and natural remedies will increase your  vitality. We hope that you are taking care of yourself in this difficult time, and we will continue to be there to support the health of our community. If you have been displaced by this fire, and would like support with Ayurveda during this difficult time, please reach out to us for an Ayurvedic consultation. Nobody is turned away due to lack of funds.

Resources: 1. LifeSpa 2. CDC 1  3. CDC 2 4. NCBI 5. 6. The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs: Khalsa & Tierra  7. photo from Newsweek CZU Lightning Complex fires  

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