Smoking is still one of the most common ways to consume cannabis. Unfortunately, this method is also one of the most harmful.
While researchers have yet to confirm that moderate cannabis consumption increases the risk of lung cancer and lung diseases, it’s safe to say that smoking certainly is not the healthiest choice in the world.
Research has shown that cannabis smoking causes both visible and microscopic damage to the lungs.
Fortunately, the evidence suggests that this damage can heal after you stop smoking. However, as long as you continue, the smoke may contribute to lung infection and cause symptoms of inflammation and chronic bronchitis.
Switching to a low-temperature vaporizer made from high-quality materials (glass, ceramic, medical-grade metals) can provide a similar effect to smoking while reducing the risk of inhaling hot embers and carcinogens released by burning plant materials.
Changing your consumption method is necessary for anyone hoping to restore the health of their lungs. Edibles, tinctures, and capsules are great alternatives. However, there are a few tips and tricks that can help your lungs heal after smoking. Here are six of them:
Like every other part of your body, lungs need exercise. The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise each week.
Not only does exercise break up chest congestion, but it also boosts immune function and increases blood circulation. Increased blood circulation and heavy breathing increase the amount of oxygen in your system.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that exercise may help flush bacteria from the lungs and airways, and the body temperature increase after exercise may prevent bacterial infection.
All of these factors promote healing and can help your lungs recover faster after smoking.
Though exercise encourages deep breathing, setting aside at least 10 minutes a day for a breathing practice can be extremely beneficial for the lungs. Desk workers, those who are inactive, or anyone who spends substantial time sitting may struggle with shallow breathing.
Shallow breathing happens when you take small sips of air, rather than drinking in a full belly-expanding breath.
Deep breathing works fresh air deep into the lungs, which can help break up buildup, mucus, and inflammation from after prolonged smoking.
The American Lung Association explains that without regular breathing exercise, stale air can be trapped in the low lungs. This makes less room for fresh, healing oxygen and lowers your exercise tolerance.
Deep breathing cleans out this stale air. For a simple technique, stand up and inhale slowly into the belly for five seconds. Then, exhale slowly for another five seconds. Increase the time as you feel comfortable.
Nature bathing does not necessarily mean taking a bath in nature, though many may find that relaxing. Nature bathing refers to spending time soaking up nature.
Research shows that the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) is helpful in relieving stress and reducing depression. Additional studies have found forest bathing boosts immune function, which may aid in recovery after smoking.
Taking a hike through a forest or a stroll through a botanical garden is not only great exercise, but these environments are rich in fresh oxygen.
Natural areas tend to have better air quality. This means that you are likely breathing in less environmental pollutants that can further irritate the lungs and make it more difficult for them to heal after smoking.
Eating a nutrient-rich diet is important when you are trying to detox from just about anything. Inhaling any kind of smoke deposits carcinogens directly into the lungs. These carcinogens are free radicals, which cause damage to cells and DNA.
A diet filled with antioxidant foods can aid in neutralizing free radicals. Antioxidants are most abundant in fruits and vegetables. Blueberries, blackberries, leafy green vegetables, and green tea are all particularly high in antioxidants.
Wild-caught fish like salmon are also a good choice for smoking recovery. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve immune function and reduce systemic inflammation.
The pink coloration in salmon also happens to be caused by one of the most powerful dietary antioxidants, a molecule called astaxanthin. In animal research, this compound is known to inhibit breast tumor cells.
The air quality in your home can be a major contributing factor to lung infection. Research suggests that some household cleaners are harsh enough to trigger asthma attacks.
Homes that have been exposed to water damage can contain molds and mildews which contribute to allergy and can further irritate the lungs.
Household pets, mites, and dust can also contribute to allergy, causing symptoms of chronic inflammation.
Reducing household irritants is a great way to improve recovery for just about any health condition, but especially conditions of the lungs. Investing in a HEPA air filter can help, as can cleaning furnace filters and vacuuming regularly.
Bringing plants into the home is another way to add more oxygen to your daily surroundings. One houseplant per 100 square feet is a good place to start.
When you first quit smoking, it’s not uncommon to experience some chest congestion or residual symptoms of bronchitis as your lungs and airways heal.
To help break up mucus and eliminate some of the buildup, a trip to the sauna or a few steamy showers might help. Though, steam is likely more beneficial for upper respiratory problems than eliminating buildup deep in the lungs.
Peppermint, eucalyptus, or pine essential oils can also help break up congestion. All three are expectorants. Expectorants are agents that help remove mucus from the body, especially the lungs and large airways.
To use these essential oils, simply mix several drops into a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil. Then, rub the expectorants on your chest and back. Sleeping with these oils on is a great way to help break up congestion through the night.