We at Hyfe, Inc., are a company devoted to working on tools to better understand the importance of cough. It is Hyfe’s intention in the future to seek regulatory approval for medical products that analyze cough in order that they may be used to diagnose, monitor, and facilitate better treatment of respiratory illnesses.
Have you ever wondered if your lungs can get “dirty” like your car or your house?
Your lungs don't get dirty from breathing in air – they don't get tiny dust or pollen granules lodged inside of them acting as a filter or blockage. It just doesn't operate that way (you can read about how the lungs work here). Instead, lungs can become clogged with extra mucus, inflammation, or fluid accumulation, which can make breathing challenging.
So, is it possible to clear your lungs?
Lung detoxification, commonly referred to as a lung cleanse, is the process of removing harmful and toxic compounds from the lungs or bronchial tract1. Detoxification aids in eliminating harmful bacteria and allergens from the surroundings.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.2 million deaths occur annually due to air pollution exposure globally2. Additionally, for one out of every five males who die in the US, tobacco use is to blame3. Therefore, it is wise to be conscious of lung detoxing and cleansing as a crucial treatment and this article covers the question, “How can I clean my lungs?”
While there is no quick fix to detox your lungs, there are ways you can accelerate your lungs cleansing. Here are 15 simple tips that you can apply immediately to optimize your respiratory system functionality:
First, quit smoking. Did you know that cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals4? And if that isn't scary enough, persistent smoking can speed up the aging process of your lungs and cause lung cancer. It's like your respiratory health is being ruined one puff at a time, day by day, little by little. So, if you want to live a long and healthy life, stop smoking and let your lungs breathe easily!
Secondly, avoid second-hand smoke. The harmful compounds found in secondhand smoke, including benzene, chromium, carbon monoxide, arsenic, polonium, formaldehyde, and cyanide, all pose serious health risks such as raising your risk of developing lung cancer5. This occurs even if you don't smoke but breathe in other’s smoke.
You might be thinking, “Can I eat or drink something to detox my lungs?”
Breathing problems can be brought on by inflammation, which is where the tissues in your lungs become swollen due to your body’s immune system. Sometimes your immune system causes inflammation as it’s fighting an infection; other times it’s overreacting or inflammation has become a chronic state. Chronic inflammation is correlated with many health conditions6. While medication, like corticosteroids, decreases inflammation, eating anti-inflammatory foods can also help naturally reduce inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
Water is the key to life and this applies to your lungs as well! But the obvious question is, how can drinking water and lung health be related?
Some fluids that help in lung cleansing include:
Daily exercise is a necessary part of a balanced lifestyle. The correct amount and various types of activities positively support your lung recovery. Cardio exercise, such as running or any movement that raises your heart rate, benefits your lungs by improving their efficiency over time. Exercise that focuses on breathing, such as yoga, can help you learn how to fully use your lungs’ capacity.
If you have a chronic lung illness, check with your doctor before changing your workout routine.
Your lung health is significantly influenced by the air you breathe. Hence, it is important to be aware of and regularly monitor the quality of this air. Some ways to stay on top of it are;
Any indoor space benefits from an air purifier to remove indoor air pollutants such as dust, dirt, or certain gases. Particularly people suffering from chronic lung diseases should use it regularly. This will help your entire body to function properly.
Secondhand smoke contains dangerous chemicals like benzene, chromium, carbon monoxide, arsenic, polonium, formaldehyde, and cyanide, all of which pose significant dangers to health. As a result, even if you’re not a smoker, breathing in secondhand smoke increases the chance of contracting lung cancer.
Breathing is a natural lifelong phenomenon. It's how your cells receive enough oxygen throughout your body, which is obviously necessary for the body to operate properly. However, many of us do not breathe as optimally as we could. You can use breathing techniques to improve. These breathing exercises include:
Improving your breathing today betters tomorrow's respiratory health. If you have a chronic lung illness, check with your doctor before changing your workout routine.
Change your air filters following the device’s instructions to keep them functioning at full effectiveness. Do not take long to change filters as they are of no use after a certain period; on the contrary, these filters may harm or produce harmful effects on your health.
One way how to remove mucus from lungs naturally, or without medications is chest physiotherapy (CPT), also known as “chest physical therapy”. It covers a range of airway clearance techniques29 that help the lungs discharge mucus and secretions. These techniques can be carried out manually or with the aid of mechanical equipment and they include:
To receive proper guidance on how to perform these techniques, it is recommended to consult with your primary care provider.
Many of us like to fill our homes with sweet fragrances and smells by using sprays, candles, and other artificial scents. These are popular in areas that can get smelly, such as the toilet. While pleasant smelling, these products can damage our airways, cause headaches or migraines, and worsen asthma30. If you are having trouble with your breathing, try cutting out all artificial scents in your home and reducing unpleasant smells through regular cleaning and air circulation.
Taking a hot shower or inhaling steam from a boiling kettle of water poured into a bowl can help open the airways and facilitate the removal of mucus from the lungs. Those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who experience difficulty breathing may find brief relief by inhaling steam. Taking a hot bath or using a hot compress also helps relax the muscles, making it easier to clear mucus.
The conventional way of doing steam therapy requires at least the following equipment:
Then, you can dive into the process as follows:
Perform this for 10 minutes two to three times a day.
You can also consider using a humidifier or a portal steam vaporizer. A humidifier adds moisture31 to the air in general, which helps loosen mucus, soothe a sore throat, alleviate coughs, reduce allergies, avoid asthma, assist with sinus pressure and congestion, and enhance sleep quality. Vaporizers are more specific, increasing the humidity in the air that you then breathe in through the attached mask. Provided they are cleaned regularly32, they also work to soften mucus for removal.
Not only is green tea a flavorful source of water, which we discussed the importance above, but green tea is also a vital source of antioxidants. These powerful chemicals may reduce the effects of smoking on lung tissues, as well as other damage to your body’s cells.
Make sure your diet includes sources of vitamins, as these support your whole body health and are essential for the best functioning of the respiratory system. Some also have benefits focused on the lungs. For example, according to a 2017 survey33, asthmatics with healthy vitamin D levels experienced fewer asthma attacks that required corticosteroid therapy than those with a lower vitamin D level. Here are some of the essential vitamins and minerals for lung health and potential sources (sorted by richest sources first):
You likely employ several household products for daily cleaning purposes. However, you probably do not even think of the ingredients that you are expelling out in your house. Yet, many common cleaning products contain lung-injurious substances.
Check the warning labels on the back of your cleaning chemicals to find out which are hazardous to your health. Replace any that you can, such as swapping cleaning spray for a mixture of malt vinegar and water. When you have to use hazardous cleaning chemicals, wear a mask to protect your respiratory system. Well-fitted surgical masks filter the air you breathe in as well as the air you breathe out.
Several over-the-counter medicines, such as guaifenesin and pseudoepinephrine, can aid in clearing your airways of extra mucus. These OTC medications can be divided into two categories:
Find out all you need to know about cough medicines here.
What causes congested lungs? There are several conditions that can lead to congested lungs, including:
When the airways and lung tissue are clogged with extra fluid, mucus, or other substances, it is
difficult for the lungs to perform their essential functions. This situation is referred to as having congested lungs. The following are typical signs of clogged lungs:
Once you quit smoking, it takes two weeks to three months to heal.
Improvement in your health condition will indicate healing – you will recover from the damages such as coughing and other respiratory problems. Since lungs play a crucial role in our general health, we should do all we can to help them function well.
Although you can take active measures to cleanse your lungs, they do cleanse on their own. It is a natural process, provided you follow a healthy routine and stay away from pollutants.
For long-term cigarette smokers, however, the idea of a lung detox or smoke detoxification should sound great.
So, on to answer that burning question, “How can I clean my lungs?”
There are many ways to give yourself a lung detox, but you must be wise in your choice of how you go about it.
Recently, there has been a wide variety of new lung cleansing products labeled “natural.” These products have been used by a large percentage of the population craving quick results.
But the truth is that the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has licensed none of these products nor has there been the appropriate clinical evidence to support their daily use for disease prevention. Moreover, even though many of them contain ingredients, such as vitamin D, that play an essential role in improving immune system responses and minimizing inflammation in the airways, quick fixes never really work.
There are numerous methods to give your lungs a detox, but you must choose your method carefully. Recently, a lot of brand-new, lung-cleansing products have carried the “natural” label. Many people have used these products because they are looking for quick outcomes without the use of pharmaceuticals.
The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has not authorized any of these products, and there is insufficient clinical data to back their regular use in disease prevention.
Furthermore, quick remedies never really work even though many of them contain components, like vitamin D, that are crucial for enhancing immune system responses and reducing airway inflammation.
While there isn't a quick way to lung detox, there are methods to quicken the process. Here are some easy home remedies you can use right off the bat to improve the performance of your respiratory system.
As there are currently no drugs or therapies that are specifically designed to clear the lungs, it is better to try to steer clear of any possible pollutants. This can involve changing behavior, such as giving up smoking, to reduce exposure, or changing one's diet and engaging in regular exercise to improve lung health. If you are suffering from an acute condition, such as a cold, medication can also help.
Marion is a freelance health and wellness writer with a passion for all things digital health. She loves diving deep into the latest research and trends in the industry and distilling them down into fun, relatable pieces that people can relate to. Whether you're a health nut or a tech geek, she is always looking for new and interesting ways to help readers access quality and evidence-based information.