All Americans have been watching for the last several weeks how badly California, Oregon, and Colorado wildfires are burning ravenously and destroying forests, livestock, homes, human lives, and whatever crosses its path. The fires have not only brought devastating destruction, but also brought smoke, poor air quality and burned ash dusting across the region. We are experiencing the highest level of air pollution we have ever seen.

By Dr. Bharat Vaidya B.A.M.S., M.D.

Owner and Founder of Ayurved Sadhana
Photo Credit: Jerry McBride - The Durango Herald

Portland’s air quality significantly worsened over the last weekend reaching 516 for Air Quality Index (AQI) as per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As per AQI, the index value above 200 means that the risk of health effects is increased for everyone. The air pollution along with toxic smoke is very irritating to mucus membranes of ears, nose, throat, lungs and liver. Hence, we would like to share some Ancient Ayurvedic wisdom with our readers which can help you to fight and prevent poor air quality and protect yourself from any body and mind diseases.

Ayurvedic Protocols Against Air Pollution and Smoke:
1. Eye Irritation: The most common complaint due to smoke and bad air quality is irritation of eyes. In this case, we need to reduce excess Alochak pitta in the eyes. Here are some simple measures you can do:
  • First Aid: Apply cotton ball dipped in cold cow’s or goat’s milk on eyes. Keep the cotton ball for 5 minutes on each eye. Then, repeat the process for at least 3 times. This is the simplest way of first aid for smoke.
  • Eye Wash: Ayurveda recommends washing the eyes with Triphala Water. To make Triphala Water, boil 1 teaspoon of Triphala powder in 1 glass of water. Cool and filter the water through a fine strainer so that no particles are left in Triphala water. Using an Eye Wash Cup or any small clean bowl, wash or rinse the eyes. If you do not have Triphala, please do the eye wash with plain water.
  • Apply Sandalwood Paste on Eyelids: Make a paste of Sandalwood Powder (Chandan) and Rose water. Close the eyes and apply the paste on the eyelids. Let it dry the paste. You will feel an immediate cooling effect and eyes will stop burning.
  • Apply Herbal Ayurvedic Kohl in eyes: At Ayurved Sadhana, in Eye Diseases Class, we teach how to make different varieties of Ayurvedic Kohls. Using Sandalwood (Chandan) Sariva, Turmeric, Licorice (Jeshtimadh) and Jatamansi, make Ayurvedic Kohl and it can be applied in the eyes and on eyelids.
  • Eye drops: Make a decoction of Triphala, Sariva and black Raisins. Cool and filter the decoction through a fine strainer so that no particles are left in it. Then pour it in a bottle with a dropper. Use it as needed through out the day for cleansing the eyes.
  • Apply Poultice: Make a poultice of fine powder of Licorice (Jeshtimadh), Turmeric and Lotus petals. Dip the poultice in milk and apply it to your eyes to reduce irritation of eyes.
2. Nose Irritation: We also see people with bad air quality struggling with nose irritation. We can do Nasya for these problems:
  • Nasal Rinse: Do nasal rinse with Turmeric and Licorice (Jeshtimadh) water to soothe and reduce inflammation.
  • Nasya: Use Nasya Oil made from Apamarga seeds powder (Achyranthes aspera Linn), Vidanga (Embelia ribes Burm.f) and Tulsi to destroy microorganisms and to bring purity.
  • Apply 2 drops of sesame, coconut, or almond oil in the nasal cavity so that you can breathe easily. You can also use ghee instead of any oil.
3. Skin Irritation or Issues: Sometimes with ash falling from sky due to wildfires causes the skin irritations or rashes. We can take care of skin problems as below:
  • Apply Rose water to your skin which would probably be great.
  • Oleation: Apply Arjun Bark or Cedar Bark oil to your skin and rub it into the skin.
  • Apply Ghee prepared with Amalaki or Ghee prepared with Daruharidra, Sandalwood and Sariva to the skin.
  • Apply Sandalwood, Manjishtha and Rose water paste to skin. It will bring back the glow to the skin.
  • Herbal Steaming: Take a hot water bath with Punarnava in the water and let it sweat out to open pores so that skin can breathe again.
4. Air and Exercise: We must have our lungs free to fill themselves all through and to their utmost capacity.
  • Pranayama: We should give all possible oxygenation through exercise like ‘Pranayama’. Pranayama cleanses the nose and lungs. Take a steady breath in through both nostrils. Inhale until you reach your lung capacity; maintain a tall spine. Hold your breath for a second, then constrict some of the breath at the back of your throat, as if you were about to whisper a secret, and exhale slowly through both nostrils.
  • Do Exercise: Every day, several times a day, we should do some rapid exercise that will compel us to breathe. A short run is better than a long walk. It does help to quicken the circulation and deepen the breathing, and if possible open the pores of the skin. With this, we are targeting purifying of our blood and protecting our body from any viral or bacterial infection.
  • Meditation and Chanting Mantras: Chant routinely Gayatri mantra, Dhanwantari mantra or Hanuman Chalisa to achieve peace of mind and connect with your inner soul.
5. Ayurvedic Herbal Support and Food: To reduce inflammation, support lung and liver health, to reduce congestion and pacify mucosal irritation, we will use different Ayurvedic herbs and herbal formulas as below:
  • Bhringraj and Vidanga Bhringraj is a sattvic herb and best for liver and blood health. Vidanga is one of the best wormicidal and helps to remove metal and physical microorganisms. You can do Shiro Virechana with Vidanga and Bhringraj. You can also take Vidanga and Bhringraj paste with honey instead.
  • Manjishtha and SarivaBoth herbs are the best blood purifiers.
  • Jatamansi and Shankhapushpi Use these herbs for brain calming as they are sattvic and can be used for Shiro Virechana for elimination of excessive Pitta dosha from the body.
  • Vetiver It is a good water resource and also pacifies the high pitta. You can apply diluted Vetiver essential oil
  • Licorice (Jeshtimadh) It is called as Jivaniya or Life promoting herb in Ayurveda. Hence, Jeshtimadh with honey or Jeshtimadh and Tulsi tea on a daily basis are the most effective ways to cleanse your body.
  • Bibhitaki and Amalaki Bibhitaki works very well on the upper respiratory system while Amalaki is high in vitamin C and antioxidant. Hence, ghee prepared with Turmeric, Amalaki, and Bibhitaki can be used in bad chest congestion and Asthma.
  • Food: Sautéed garlic or onion in ghee are high in sulfur while consumption of vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro, parsley beetroots etc. is advised.
  • Air Purifying Trees: Another compelling detail is that the following four trees were considered as disinfectants and air purifiers: Vad (Nyaghrodh- Fecus Bengalensis), Pippal (Aswath-Fecus Religiosa), Udumbar (Fecus Glomerata), Neem (Paribhadra-Melia Azadirachta). We should plant these trees going forward to support natural air purification.

Now, with all the above tools and tips, you are well equipped with many Ayurvedic protocols which you can incorporate in your life during poor air quality and toxic smoke.

Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Om Shanti!!! Prayers for Mother Earth and Mother Nature!

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