At the time I am writing this (summer 2019), Australia (and particularly my home state of Queensland as well as New South Wales) are in the grip of a combination of smoke haze from bushfires, and dust in the air from the unprecedented drought.
While we can't do much about the presence of these irritants, there are a few home remedies you can use to help reduce symptoms, and improve the way your body responds.
Here are my top 6 tips for supporting the body when these kinds of events occur...
* Eat or juice some pineapple. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, that can be helpful to break down congestion. There is a catch though – for maximum benefit the pineapple does need to be fresh, and most of the bromelain is in the core! So make sure you get yourself down to your local fruit & vegie store rather than eating the canned stuff or drinking commercially prepared juice.
* Bump up your intake of vitamin C rich foods. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, therefore it may help to relieve allergy symptoms. Citrus fruits, berries, capsicum, fresh green leafy vegetables and kiwifruit are all good sources.
* Steam inhalations may be helpful, to provide some moisture to the airways. Always ensure you do this safely so that you aren’t at risk of burning yourself, and keep hot water away from children’s reach.
* Try a thyme tea. If you have fresh thyme growing in your garden, making a tea is a great way to make use of this versatile herb. Thyme is fantastic for any kind of congestion, as it helps to clear the airways, and it also possesses antispasmodic properties (meaning that it may help to prevent or minimize the reaction of the body to irritants such as smoke or dust). Steep a small handful of thyme in hot water for 5-10 minutes, then strain and drink. Flavour with a little natural honey for some additional throat-soothing benefits. You can store any leftover tea in a clean container in the fridge for up to 24 hours, and reheat as needed.
* Stay hydrated! 95% of my patients in the clinic do not drink enough water (I’m also guilty of this at times!). With the hot dry air and with most of us seeking the comfort of air-conditioning, we are at increased risk of fluid loss. Dehydration affects the delicate mucus membranes in your respiratory tract, so make sure you drink extra water, vegetable juices, or herbal tea, or much on ice cubes to cool down. And keep in mind that coffee, black tea, energy drinks and alcohol are all dehydrating, so keep these to a minimum and drink extra fluids to compensate.
* Support your immune system at the gut level. 70% of your immune system is located in your digestive tract, and what happens here can play a huge role in how your body responds (or over-reacts, in the case of allergies and asthma) to triggers such as smoke and dust. If you aren’t already taking a probiotic that specifically supports immune system balance, feel free to chat to me as these are available and clinically I find them very effective.