Understanding Lung Health & Simple Tips For Clearing Congestion

Understanding Lung Health & Simple Tips For Clearing Congestion

“Breathing is not only the process of inhaling and exhaling; it’s a reminder that every breath we take is a gift of life.” ~ annon

How often do you think of your lung health? Breath is quite literally our life force yet it’s quite common to never really consider our lungs until we encounter an illness or injury.

Our body has an incredibly intelligent system designed to protect our lungs and keep germs and pollutants out. In certain environments our bodies may need a bit of support to aid recovery from air pollution, contact with bacteria & viruses, smog, or smoke. There are some natural and easy, everyday things we can do to take care of our lungs, to encourage easeful breathing and to help prevent infection, viruses, asthma, allergies, and dis-ease.

Kit Paulson Lungs sculpture
Kit Paulson, Lungs, 2020, glass, Smithsonian American Art Museum

The importance of lungs

As we know, the air we breathe contains oxygen and it is the respiratory system’s main priority to circulate fresh air into and around our bodies while also removing waste gases. Every single cell in our body needs oxygen to survive.

From the lungs, oxygen is transferred to the bloodstream and begins its travel through our body. At each cell, a vital process called gas exchange takes place where oxygen is given, and waste gas aka carbon dioxide is taken. Our bloodstream carries this carbon dioxide back to the lungs, it is removed from the blood and with every exhale, expelled from the body.

Other important tasks our respiratory system completes include:

  • Adjusting air to the appropriate body temperature and humidity level.
  • Supporting our sense of smell.
  • Protecting the body from harmful and unwanted substances by sneezing, coughing, filtering and even swallowing to avoid contact with the lungs.

The sum of our respiratory systems parts

"Noticeable mucus means your body is healing and trying to get better!"

Nose - The main entrance for outside air to enter the respiratory system, the air must filter through the hairs lining the inside of our nose that form part of the air-cleaning system.

Mouth – the back-up air entrance for when the nose is temporarily blocked due to virus, allergies or during intense exercise.

Sinuses – important for helping to regulate temperature and humidity of inhaled air. Our sinuses are hollow spaces in the bones of our head above and below our eyes. They are connected to our nose via small openings.

Throat – air must journey from our mouth and nose down the throat and into our trachea, aka our windpipe.

Bronchial tubes -   the trachea divides into two bronchial tubes, one for each lung. Which divides again into each lobe of our lungs.

Mucus – each bronchial tube is lined with tiny hairs called cilia that move in a back and forward motion to carry mucus up from the lungs and into our throat to be coughed or sneezed out or swallowed. Mucus is essential for lung health because every time we inhale, there is a chance we are breathing in bacteria, dust, dirt, pollen, viruses, or other unwanted invaders and these ideally will stick to the mucus and be removed from our lungs. Mucus lines the surface of the lungs, mouth, eyes, and sinuses and keeps them moist.

If we our fighting an infection or allergy, the mucus membranes can become inflamed and our body will produce more mucus for added protection. Noticeable mucus means your body is healing and trying to get better!

natural decongestant cold clear blocked nose sinusitis

ETTO Forest Lungs Steam Inhalers for clearing congestion and blocked noses naturally

Managing Mucus

Treating the respiratory system in times of illness or allergy is generally approached by supporting the self-cleaning and protecting functions our body already has in place – namely supporting mucus!

Blowing our nose and coughing is good because it is assisting mucus to clear the pathogens from our body. Never supress a cough. It is ok to swallow the mucus, the digestive track will be able to deal with it, if you can spit it out discretely this is considered healthier by some lung specialists.

Mucus helps to maintain a moist environment, but we don’t want it to be too dry or too wet. Mucus that is too wet can build up and sometimes needs a little help being expelled so we want to try and separate it. This is often the case for infections like bronchitis or some cold viruses. If mucus is too dry, we want to help moisten it so it can continue to cleanse, cool, and heal the respiratory system. If you feel tight chested or have trouble breathing, moistening, and cooling may be the thing that assists your body to do its job more smoothly.

How to assist mucus:

Drink fluids – staying hydrated helps to keep mucus thin which makes it easier to disperse and dispel from the body. Water and warm herbal teas that are caffeine free are the best options. As with caffeine, alcohol is dehydrating so best avoided. Try our Forest Lungs Immune Tea, specially formulated for colds, flus and immune system support.

Cough - when you need to, this is the body’s way of expelling unwanted pollutants

Gargle salt water – add a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and gargle a few times a day to help clear mucus in the throat and soothe irritation.

Steam – steam helps to separate and dispel mucus. Adding eucalyptus oil to steam can further enhance mucus clearing while also providing antiviral properties. Add drops of ETTO Blue Mallee Eucalyptus to your shower or bath and hang out in the steam inhaling the scent. Alternatively, fill a heat proof bowl with hot water, add one ETTO Forest lungs Steam inhaler or 10 drops of Blue Mallee and place your face a safe distance over the steam. Use a towel to create a tent over your head and the bowl so you can confine the steam. Stay for about 5 minutes or more. Gently blow your nose after to release any mucus that has come up. A fast solution is to place a warm wet facecloth with a few drops of Blue Mallee oil over your face. The heat will help to ease pressure on the sinuses and help to maintain moisture in the nose and throat.

Avoid decongestants – they may help stem a runny nose but ultimately by using decongestants we are prohibiting the release of mucus – thus restricting the body’s natural protection and healing processes.

steam inhalers relieve nasal congestion clear sinusitis
Face steaming with ETTO Forest Lungs Steam Inhalers to clear blocked noses

Everyday Lung Health

Keep away from irritants

Avoid smoking, or inhaling second hand smoke and as much as possible avoid polluted areas (e.g. if going for a walk, run or bike, find places to ride away from busy roads). For those of us with known allergies, obviously we can’t always avoid them entirely. Here are some easy tips for helping the body avoid irritants entering the lungs:

  • Rub some of The Skin Balm around the outside and just on the inside of your nostrils to help trap pollutants before they enter your nose.
  • After time in polluted or congested areas dissolve a Forest Lungs Steam Inhaler in a bowl of hot water and breathe in the steam. The antibacterial and antiviral properties of the Blue Mallee Oil  along with the steam help to clear the nasal passage of any viruses or irritants.
  • Add ETTO Tea Tree oil or Blue Mallee oil to your laundry wash to help kill germs and dust mites.
  • Spend time in nature, forests, the bush and by the ocean to inhale clean, fresh air.
Get fresh air for lung health
ETTO Blue Mallee Eucalyptus Farm is near the pristine West Australian Coastline

Prevent infection

We can do our best to avoid getting sick from influenzas, colds and viruses that are contracted via particles coming in through our nose, eyes and mouth. Some helpful preventative measures include:

  • Maintain good hygiene after using public facilities, ETTO The Pure Oil Spray is a plant-based antiseptic and antibacterial and can be used as a hand sanitiser.
  • Do a facial steam (as above) using pure unadulterated Tea Tree or Blue Mallee.
  • Maintain a strong immune system by eating a balanced diet full of fresh wholefoods and getting regular physical activity.

Some helpful herbs for Lung health

These plant allies are well known in traditional medicines for helping with immune support and lung and respiratory health:

  • Elderberry taken as a powder or tea a lovely antiviral and used for upper respiratory symptoms
  • Eucalyptus to inhale or as a tea known for its decongestant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Ginger fresh, in tea or powdered helps expel mucus
  • Mullein usually taken as an infusion and good for dry lungs
  • Peppermint usually taken as a tea and acts as a good decongestant helping to breakup mucus
  • Raspberries eaten fresh they are good for breaking up mucus
  • Cordyceps usually taken in powdered form and known for treating coughs and respiratory disorders
  • Reishi usually in powdered form and a powerful immune support
  • Schisandra berry traditionally used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for lung support
  • Nettle usually taken as a tea and traditionally used as a lung tonic

eucalyptus tea for lung health and immune system support

ETTO Forest Lungs bundle with Immune Tea and Blue Mallee Eucalyptus Oil
Back to blog