Tips to protect the body and lungs from smoke inhalation

Wild fires, smoke from factories, cigarette smoke, 2nd-hand cigarette smoke (breathing cigarette smoke from others), kitchen fires, and other smoke can cause mucous membranes and the lungs to become irritated and inflamed. All types of smoke can cause damage to the body if enough is inhaled. The immune system is also affected by breathing smoke and can result in joint pain and other conditions not usually associated with smoke inhalation.

Protection from smoke including 2nd hand cigarette smoke
© Glazkovpavel | Dreamstime Stock Photos

No matter how mysterious or cool it looks, smoke is not healthy and should be avoided.


Mullein helps heal damaged lung tissue.

Herbs can really help to heal smoke damaged tissue and mucus membranes. Building immunity is also important for healing. Try astragalus, ginseng, yellowroot, and licorice tea or capsules. Eat oatmeal, yogurt, and bananas to soothe the throat.

Problems from smoke inhalation and second hand smoke

People with asthma, emphysema, heart disease, sinus problems, and allergies are especially prone to developing problems from smoke. Common symptoms from smoke inhalation and breathing second hand smoke include fatigue, coughing, throat irritation, watering eyes, sinus congestion, wheezing, shortness of breath, headaches, and nose bleeds.

Protect mucus membranes from smoke

Smoke in the air? Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water and herbal teas with lemon. Also drink mullein tea.

It may also help to irrigate the sinuses with a weak saline solution (salt water).

It is unpleasant but can bring relief to the sinuses – just snort some warm salt water from a bowl up into your nose then blow it back out into a tissue.

Use over-the-counter or prescription eye lubricants to help protect dry, irritated eyes.

Follow the directions on the label. Buy drops that are for lubricating the eyes, not to get the red out.

In emergencies, use homemade eye washes.

If over-the-counter or prescription eye drops are not available, use distilled water to make a week yellowroot, calendula, or eyebright tea. Cool completely, strain two times through clean coffee filters or sterile cotton cloth, and pour a little into eyes with a teaspoon.

Tips to keep safe from outdoor smoke

If you live in an area where there is obvious smoke in the air or where you can smell smoke, stay indoors and keep windows closed. Don't forget pets – bring them inside, too.

Beware indoor smoke

Do not fry food at high temperatures -- you don't need to breath smoke from cooking oil getting too hot. Do not burn candles. Do not use fireplaces or wood heaters unless they are vented correctly. Avoid air fresheners, incense, and cigarette smoke, too.

How can I help a smoker to quit smoking?

Here are some things you can do:

  • Ask them to quit

  • Ask them to smoke outdoors

  • Provide info on the dangers of smoking

  • Explain dangers of second-hand smoke

  • Enroll them in a smoking cessation program

If breathing becomes difficult, leave the smoke behind.

If breathing becomes labored, seek a location where smoke is not present. This is especially important for babies, children, the elderly, and people with existing conditions. If exposed to lots of smoke, get emergency help as soon as possible.

Traveling through a smoky area?

A wet dish cloth is more beneficial than a face mask. Face masks are designed to trap larger particles like sawdust, not smoke.

After exposure to smoke, add extra antioxidants to the diet.

Fresh vegetables, fruits, and berries can really help the body to remove toxins. Antioxidants like rose hips and elderberries help the body to heal. Also consider taking a vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin D supplement for a couple of weeks after smoke exposure.

* If exposed to lots of smoke or if breathing becomes difficult, get emergency help as soon as possible.

Payne Mountain Farms

Buy yellowroot and other wild-harvested herbs at Payne Mountain Farms.

Herb Articles by Janice Boling

"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... , herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer

"Ointment and Perfume Rejoice the Heart." Proverbs 27:9

Every Green Herb is a place to learn about medicinal herbs and essential oils. Visit my online store to buy wild harvested yellowroot, mullein, bee balm, and other herbal products at Payne Mountain Farms.

* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

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