Our hearts grow heavier by the moment as we watch the progression of the California fires. We’re sending love and a huge bubble of protection to surround family, friends, clients, homes, businesses, our beloved open spaces, and all the brave, dedicated people on the front lines. If there is any positivity that comes from a catastrophe like this it is the strength that has arisen in our community and the support that we provide one another. We can feel the love!
Stress & tension are high and the poor air quality is something to take seriously so do your best not to lose sight of foundational self-care. Our bodies are amazing & resourceful, but will only put up with so much before they start to slow us down to conserve energy & become more susceptible to illness.
Conversations with our community inspired us to share some fundamental, holistic tips and things to consider when dealing with the stress of this tragedy.
Staying hydrated now is more important than ever! It will help your sinuses and lungs protect themselves from the damaging effects of the smoke among other benefits. Shoot for half your body weigh in ounces every day. (160 lbs. = 80 oz./day)
Obviously there may a need to eat whatever is accessible. Nourishment in any form is vital! If you have options, fight the urge to eat processed food and sugar when under stress. These will weaken your defenses, make you feel tired, and exacerbate any feelings of tension or anxiety you may be experiencing. Focus on real, whole foods whenever possible.
Do your best not to go too long without eating. Low blood sugar reduces brain function effecting your mood, decision-making capabilities, and energy level.
Everyone who lives/works/has loved ones in the affected areas is dealing with some level of stress right now and we have tools at our fingertips to reduce the negative effects! A classification of medicinal herbs called adaptogens gently support your hormonal, immune, & nervous systems so that trauma, anxiety, & consistent worry don’t take such a big physical toll.
Our favorite adaptogens include holy basil, ashwaganda, Eleuthero, maca, Schisandra, Rhodiola, and reishi & cordyceps mushrooms. They should be taken multiple times per day, every day to take effect. We generally suggest liquid herbal tinctures: 1 dropperful, 2-3 times per day, ideally taken on an empty stomach. (See resources & safety note below.)
It’s amazing how effective deep breathing can be! It signals your parasympathetic nervous system, telling it that everything will be ok, therefore calming your stress response. Simply take time for three long, deep breaths throughout a busy day or, when time permits, gift yourself with some yoga and/or meditation. The mental & physical benefits are boundless during a stressful time!
There are also medicinal herbs called nervines that calm and support the health of your nervous system. They can be taken throughout the day to maintain support or used as needed. Our favorites include chamomile, catnip (no wonder cats are so chill ; ), lemon balm, skullcap, motherwort, blue vervain, wild oats, damiana, and linden. Drink them in tea form or take them as liquid tinctures: 1 dropperful, 2-3 times per day, ideally taken on an empty stomach. Dry herbs in capsules would be our next choice because the herbs loose potency more quickly and they take longer to digest and take effect. (See resources & safety note below.)
If you are having trouble sleeping it affects your energy, ability to make decisions, and positive outlook, right? In addition to your deep breathing, yoga, & meditation relaxant herbs can help a ton! Try passionflower, hops, lavender, chamomile, kava kava, valerian, Pulsatilla, or a blend. Again, you can drink them in tea form or take them as liquid tinctures: 1-2 droppersful before bed, ideally taken on an empty stomach. Capsules are fine if that is what you have. (See resources & safety note below.)
Respiratory Distress Due to Smoke
Folks most at risk are those with heart disease, emphysema, asthma, allergies, sinus problems, infants, & the elderly but EVERYONE IS AFFECTED! Common symptoms of distress are fatigue, throat irritation, watery eyes, sinus congestion, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, headaches, & nose bleeds.
If you are still in a smoky area don’t go outside if you don’t need to. If you do, dust masks are not enough! Paper “dust” masks or surgical masks will not protect your lungs from the fine particles in wildfire smoke. Scarves or bandanas (wet or dry) won’t help, either. Particulate masks known as N-95 or P-100 respirators will help, but they must fit well and be used correctly. They are sold at many hardware, home repair stores, and online.
When smoke is heavy for prolonged periods fine particles can build up indoors even though you may not be able to see them.
- Try to avoid using anything that burns, such as wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves, and even candles. (The exception would be beeswax candles because they improve air quality.)
- Don’t vacuum! It stirs up particles already inside your home. A damp cloth or Swiffer-like product for sweeping and dusting is best.
- Wash your hair after exposure to the outside air. The fine particulates cling and will contaminate your clothing, pillow, etc.
- Keep any clothes worn outside separate from clean clothes and launder A.S.A.P. You don’t want the small particulate matter getting into you daily living space, especially if you have pets and small children. They’re closer to the ground and will inhale the particles more easily than adults.
Medicinal herbs can also be extremely helpful in this situation!
- Demulcent herbs like marshmallow and licorice help to soothe the sinuses, throat, & lungs.
- Expectorants like mullein, horehound, pleurisy, elecampane, & grindelia help your lungs cleanse themselves and reduce phlegm.
- Reducing inflammation is crucial so look to herbs like Echinacea, ginger, & turmeric.
- Yerba santa is great for reducing mucus production.
- If you are coughing eucalyptus & thyme can help to open up air passages and lobelia is an antispasmodic herb that can reduce spastic coughing.
- If you are wheezing or are having asthmatic symptoms osha, reishi mushrooms & cordyceps mushrooms are great allies!
You will commonly find these herbs in convenient blends. As always tea or liquid tinctures are preferable and capsules are fine if that’s what is available. Take as directed. (See resources & safety note below.)
We’re here for you!
We are available to give you customized suggestions for your specific situation during this overwhelming time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. Hopefully reading about these tips has already helped to reduce your stress level. Please share them with anyone who could benefit. Together we will make it through this ♥
China Rose Wellness is a dynamic duo of holistic healthcare practitioners passionate about supporting the health of their community on all levels! China Rose Zamora, FNTP, CCH, RYT is a functional nutritional therapist, clinical herbalist, & yoga teacher and AJ Zamora CPT, Pn1 is a holistic health coach, functional fitness trainer, and green living enthusiast. They travel and teach extensively throughout the U.S. & Canada via their eco-conscious tiny house, the Zamora Vardo, and support clients all over the world.
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Basic info about smoke inhalation:
What to do before, during, and after a wildfire:
Learn the right way to use an N-95 or P-100 particulate respirator mask:
Get air quality information:
If there is an active fire in your area, follow your local news, the airnow.gov website, or your state air quality website for up-to-date information.
Learn more about smoke and health:
See Wildfire Smoke, A Guide for Public Health Officials:
For information about home air cleaners:
For a list of certified air cleaning devices:
The information provided in this blog is not intended to take the place of personalized advice from a healthcare practitioner. Though the medicinal herbs mentioned are generally safe, readers with preexisting health conditions or taking pharmaceutical medications should consult with a healthcare practitioner/doctor/pharmacist before taking anything new.