Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In the face of fire - taking steps to mitigate the effects of smoke on our health

By Jody K. Shevins

September 7, 2010 - As some of you know, I live in southwest Longmont. This morning there is ash on my garden vegetables. It is painful, even though it is “natural” to see our beautiful foothills in flames. For all of us living in and along the Front Range here, we see the clouds of smoke moving in different directions with the winds. I am writing to you this morning as a reminder: even if the darker parts of the clouds are not right over your area, the particulates are everywhere in the air right now.

Of course people with cardiovascular disease, asthma, or vulnerability to sinus or bronchial infections should be especially cautious. There are a number of things to be done to mitigate the effects of the smoke on us. But before I list those things, I want to emphasize that it’s not just those of us who suffer from asthma or other infections who need to take some proactive measures. Obviously our friends and neighbors who fled the fire and the firefighters and their support teams have had enormous stress and smoke exposure. But everyone else in the Front Range needs to take care.

So today I am asking you please to take action. Use your air purifiers and air conditioners and (clean) humidifiers. Don’t exercise outside until this has passed. Minimize exposure to the smoke. I think it would be best to use your glasses and skip wearing contact lenses till the air has cleared. Breathing steam and using nasal saline can help move the particulates off of the airways.

Nutritionally, the basics help. By basics, I mean include generous amounts of deeply colored fruits and vegetables for the anti-oxidant properties. All the deeply colored berries are terrific as are fruits such as cherries and pomegranates. Supplements such as N-Acetyl-Cystein (NAC) can help fortify the linings of the respiratory tract and keep mucus thin.

Hydration...always hydration is so important. Besides keeping airway surfaces moist, liquids help the body with detoxification. Wildfires contain toxic gasses as well as particulates. One might consider using gentle detoxifying strategies like milk thistle or fiber if this is an issue for you. If you know that certain strategies really support you, like sleep, resveratrol, Laughter Yoga, or probiotics, make sure you use them now.

For people with cardiovascular disease, asthma, or vulnerability to sinus and bronchial infections, anti-inflammatory preparations like Zyflammend, herbal teas for coughs, simple supplementation including essential fatty acids, Vitamin C and zinc and carotenoids can be helpful now.

Please remember to be mindful, take good care of yourself and your family so that these days of smoke in the air don’t leave any more lasting effects beyond the present.

Our thoughts turn toward our brave fire fighters, the women and men who walk right up to the fire to make sure our families and pets survive. To those of you who have lost homes, are dealing with evacuation and are directly involved in the fire, our hearts go out to you.

Jody K. Shevins, ND, DHANP, CCH

Jody K. Shevins is a doctor of naturopathic medicine practicing in Boulder, Colorado since 1984. She is a Diplomate of the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (DHANP) and is Certified in Classical Homeopathy (CCH).

Photos by Carolyn Oakley.

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