If you’ve lived for a while in Maryland – unless you’re up in the mountains or “downey ocean, hon” – you know that breathing can be a real challenge when weather reports include the word “Code” and colors on the hot side of the spectrum. Even if you don’t have allergies, asthma, or other health issues, our regional smog, humidity, and pollen count can reward a deep belly-breath with a spell of gasping and wheezing.
What to do? Nobody wants to cower in an air-conditioned environment, or tote a small pharmacy with them whenever they venture outside! Isn’t there a way to enjoy the summer outdoors without having to fight for every breath?
Fortunately, there are a number of holistic steps you can take to reduce your discomfort without drugs. First of all, take a look at your diet for possible causes of your breathing troubles. Naturopathic doctor Sally James suggests these simple solutions:
Allergies may not be the cause of your stuffy nose, runny eyes, and sinus headaches. A diet heavy in wheat, dairy, and sugar – not to mention preservatives, yeasts, and highly allergenic foods such as nuts – can trigger the same symptoms. Talk with us about easy steps to find out whether they might be part of the problem.
- Highly acidic items such as tea, coffee, alcohol, sugar, red meats, and processed foods can cause respiratory inflammation and depress your immune system. You can often reduce asthmatic symptoms by consuming fewer acidic foods and beverages and adding more alkaline foods to your diet. You can find a fairly complete chart of acidic and alkaline-forming foods here.
- To reduce respiratory irritation and congestion, Dr. James recommends adding recognized anti-inflammatory spices such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, onions and chilies to your diet. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians advises further: deep yellow and orange vegetables add the antioxidant beta carotene, and nettles, bamboo shoots, cabbage, beet tops, beets, carrots and yams add Vitamin C. To break up mucus, eat onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne, and horseradish. And of course, drink plenty of water to keep fluids moving.
Finally, if you’re looking for complementary practitioners to help you handle your respiratory issues, the World Health Organization documents acupuncture as an effective treatment for both asthma and allergies. The National Institutes for Health, also, have given the nod to Chinese herbs as a treatment for these conditions. Ask us how we can help you by using either of both of these modalities.
Finally, let’s be realistic: there are some days when it simply makes sense to stay inside! When the temperature and the humidity are both registering in the 90s and the weather reports are blaring “Code Red,” it’s a good idea not to venture out for long periods. And there are occasions when pharmaceutical tools are an effective backup to holistic strategies. But with that said, we can help you to enjoy the summer with less suffering and greater wellness!