Wildfire Respiratory Support

Our little mountain town of Flagstaff, AZ has been hit hard by wildfires, we’ve had two in the last 6 weeks!

Our most recent fire, The Pipeline Fire, was fueled largely by 50+ mph winds making air support impossible. To make matters worse, we had two additional fires spark up in this same time period. However, the winds have died down, air support made good progress yesterday and we have some containment! We have a lot to be grateful for.

But, with the wind reduction, our town is filled with smoke. We cannot even see the mountain from our home. Wildfires are something many people face so I wanted to share some of my favorite tips and products to support my respiratory health when we have smokey or poor air quality.

First, close your doors and windows. I know, we are in summer and many of us do not have air conditioning and we really appreciate the cool evening air. But, while we have smoke, I sleep with all my windows closed up tight. I also try and keep my dog inside as well on those super smokey days.

Next is run a good quality air filter. My favorite is Air Doctor. I know they are pricey. If that does not work with your budget, this HEPA has a lower price point. You want to assess the filter’s micron rating to assess whether the filter is going to be effective for your needs. No sense buying something that doesn’t do what you want it to do! Wildfire smoke generally consists of fine particles in the range of 0.4 to 0.7 microns according to the EPA. You can read Why Wildfire Smoke is a Health Concern for more info.

Inhaling smoke has an inflammatory effect on the body. One study found:

The increase in IL-13+ ILCs, and DC activation in subjects during wildfire season, compared to subjects post-wildfire season, suggests a pro inflammatory effect of wildfire smoke inhalation.


And a quote from a senior study author related to a different study said:

This current study shows that even without major symptoms, significant pathological changes are happening in the lungs and immune system when we are exposed to wildfire smoke.


This exposure can trigger mast cells. Mast cells are blood cells which are part of the immune system which help us fight infections. However, they are also involved in allergic reactions, when they a substance that triggers an allergic reaction, they release histamine and other chemicals into the bloodstream. I am going to share my favorite, gentle ways to support my body when histamine becomes elevated.

Reminder: This blog is purely for educational purposes only. I am not your practitioner, nor am I a licensed medical professional. Always seek guidance and support from your practitioner on your healthcare needs and before starting or stopping and supplements.

Essential oils: I love essential oils and use them around my house quite frequently. Some of my favorites for respiratory support include eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender. If you are new to oils or just want to make it easy, there are some respiratory blends out there like this one. You can use a few drops in a diffuser, this one is my all time favorite (I have a slight diffuser addiction so I have tried many.) If you don’t have a diffuser, boil some water in a pot and once boiling, remove from heat and drop a few drops in the pot. Never leave oils unattended, always dilute in water, and never use oils in plastic.

For a nice breakdown of oils and their role in respiratory health, I like this study: Essential oils in the treatment of respiratory tract diseases highlighting their role in bacterial infections and their anti‐inflammatory action: a review

Next are some respiratory support supplements. My favorite all time product is A&I Formula from New Beginnings Nutritionals. One caveat, I serve as their Director of Marketing and know the level of quality and purity for the products we carry. This product comes in both capsule and chewable and really supports healthy inflammation levels and is terrific for our seasonal allergy symptoms! We even use it for colds with runny nose. It is a combination product of quercetin, stinging nettles, and NAC.

For generalized lung support, I use lobelia. Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) is also called Indian tobacco, has a long history of use as an herbal remedy for respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and cough. Native Americans smoked lobelia as a treatment for asthma. In the 19th century, American physicians used to prescribe lobelia to the point of inducing vomiting to remove toxins from the body which helped it earn the nickname “puke weed.” Today, lobelia is sometimes suggested to help clear mucus from the respiratory tract, including the throat, lungs, and bronchial tubes.

A well-fitting N95 mask can also make a world of difference when you do need to go outside. My favorite mask for smoke and even working in the yard with dust/fine particles of dirt is Vogmask. I find them to be well-fitting and very effective for smoke.

I personally find it a bit hard to breath with smoke which means I am taking more shallow breaths in the day. I try and set some time aside in my day to be near my filter and take some deeper breaths.

If you don’t have access to any of these things, keep you doors and windows closed and try steaming and/or saline nasal sprays to help keep the nasal passages moist and clear. I like using a saline spray and then blowing my nose. For a DIY steamer, boil some water in a pot, remove from heat and then carefully lean your face into the steam – not too close and if it becomes uncomfortable, stop. You can do this with or without essential oils. The steam will help moisturize and soothe your nasal passages. A neti pot can work here as well.

And this is a time when I take it easier on my body. I reduce my cardio workouts and let my body process this additional burden. I also make sure I drink plenty of pure water and take epsom salt baths to support my body in detoxification.

Hopefully our community is turning a corner with containment. In the meantime, I wish everyone reading this a healthy and happy summer.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and as such, some of the links in this blog are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. I only link to products I use or would use for myself and my family but make no guarantees, implied or otherwise, about how well they will work for you.

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