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Tips to Protect Our Health From Smoke Pollution

This week has brought tragic wildfires to the Central Coast. We have all seen and heard the news of terrible loss of life, homes and livelihood for many thousands of people. The surrounding communities are lucky enough to avoid these dangers, yet feel the strong effects of smoke pollution. 

Smoke pollution during the autumn season may result in the following signs and symptoms:

  • respiratory disturbances, cough, congestion, irritation to the lung, nose and throat
  • irritation to eyes & sinuses with allergic responses, itching, burning and discharge
  • orbital, frontal and/or temporal headaches
  • irritability, moodiness and mental instability
  • anxiety or restlessness
  • fatigue, depression or poor concentration
  • bitter taste in mouth
  • nosebleeds or exacerbation of other hemorrhagic conditions
  • digestive symptoms such as loose stools, abdominal pain, constipation or intestinal heat and dryness
  • nausea or acidic regurgitation

 

Tips to Protect Our Health From Smoke Pollution

Feel free to share these tips with your friends and family!


1. Use caution when working outdoors and minimize exercising. It is easy to understand that exercising and working outdoors in poor air quality is counter-productive for health. To protect our health during wildfire season, reduce exercise and use caution with manual labor, lifting heavy objects and other strenuous tasks.

2. Avoid arguments and conflicts. The condition of smoke pollution and wildfires has strong negative effect on people's emotions and mental stability. During wildfire time you will notice people behaving with unstable emotions, more argumentative, confrontational and irritable. When you see more people road raging and freaking out in grocery stores this week, you will know why!

3. Avoid disturbing sounds and images. Many people in our culture enjoy scary, violent movies and television shows, or intense aggressive music. With this environmental tragedy and other disasters, there is no shortage of disturbing news on TV. Please do not dive too deeply into news media If you are easily disturbed by the tragic and scary content.

4. Refrain from drinking alcohol.  Alcohol is drying, hot and sharp in nature and irritates the liver/gallbladder system. These characteristics match the dry, sharp nature of surviving in smoke pollution. When wildfires are close by the seasonal advice on alcohol is even more important than usual.

5. Take short, lukewarm showers or baths.  Cleanse sweat and dirt from the skin helps open the pores…especially when there is air pollution present! Baths should be short and not too hot. Short, lukewarm showers are best. Hot water bathing in this time can aggravate symptoms such as headaches, dry itchy eyes, upset stomach, fatigue and irritable mood. One may simply rinse the body, or use gentle, moisturizing products which are not too harsh or drying.

6. Keep clothes and living quarters clean and fresh. Another useful practice is to pay extra attention to the cleanliness of our clothes and homes. Wear thin fabrics and light cool colors such as white, light greens and blues. When it is very dirty outside, we can make conditions extra clean and fresh inside the home. Green plants and flowers, nice smells, cool bright colors, purified or humidified air all help support our physical and mental wellbeing.

7. Eat a light and cool diet. Which type of diet is best to help expel environmental toxins? We should avoid rich, oily, spicy foods and warm herbs. It is appropriate to eat light and cool foods with less spices. Thin plain rice soup, fresh noodles, fresh cooked vegetables are very good. Bitter, cool vegetables such as celery and dandelion are great choices.

8. Stay hydrated and use light herb teas. Keeping our bodies well hydrated is crucial for expelling toxins and maintaining health. Drinking cool boiled water is best. Ice water stresses our digestive system and can be counterproductive for our health. Homemade vegetable broth is excellent for hydrating the body and combating dryness. Less caffeine is advisable now. Light herb teas such as mint, licorice, chrysanthemum and green tea are great.  

9. Spend time in pleasant relaxation. Try to spend time relaxing in a cool, fresh place and talk about pleasant things with our beloved companions or friends. This simple practice helps to soothe vexing emotions, restore our fatigue. Ideally, we can go somewhere with fresh air, green shady plants and flowing water. If we do not have this option we can stay in a cool building with humidified air and enjoy some respite from the smoke with our dear friends.

10. Cultivate compassion in thoughts and actions. The best advice we can apply for our health and wellbeing is to cultivate compassion in our thoughts and actions. When we see images of and hear about the tragic suffering resulting from these wildfires and other disasters it is natural to feel emotional responses. Fear, sadness, anxiety, depression and vexation can increase in response to terrible news around us. Send positive intentions and prayers to those who are suffering. Get involved and do something to help them. Helping others is also helping yourself!

Feel free to share these tips with your friends and family!

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