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Products that claim they can detoxify, clean, or clear your lungs can be made from herbal supplements, vitamins, essential oils, or antioxidants. These lung cleansers may come as pills, vitamins, teas, oils, or be inhaled. None of the products are FDA-approved, and neither the American Lung Association (ALA), National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), or the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognize any supplements, herbs, oils, or vitamins for lung cleansing.
What Does Lung Cleansing Do?
Lung cleansing products claim to treat inflammation, reduce cough, reduce congestion, and even help you stop smoking or help to cleanse your lungs after you stop smoking. According to the website LungSupportSupplements.com, licorice, lobelia, and grindelia are key herbs used in supplements. Other herbal ingredients may include wild cherry bark, turmeric, marshmallow root, mullein leaf, and many others.
Other lung cleansing ingredients may be vitamins, especially vitamin D. There have been a few studies showing vitamin D may reduce lung inflammation, but these studies were small and not very convincing. Today, the NIH Office of Supplements says the only role for vitamin D as a health supplement is for bone health. As far as any other vitamins, none have been shown to improve lung health and NIH says the best way to get vitamins is through your diet, not from supplements.
The ALA says the claims of lung detox or cleansing products are unproven and some products may be dangerous. For example, vaping or inhaling essential oils can be damaging to your lungs. A final warning on all these products is that they are not regulated by the FDA. That means they may have ingredients not stated on the label, and they may have side effects or interfere with the medications you take.
Antioxidants are the other common ingredient in lung detox products, especially the antioxidant vitamin D. Antioxidants have been studied much more than herbal supplements. These substances are abundant in fruits and vegetables and they may help your immune system deal with inflammation and infection, or reduce your risk of inflammatory diseases. However, the same benefits have not been shown with antioxidant supplements. Because antioxidants from foods affect the body differently than from supplements, antioxidant supplements are not recommended by NIH.
Can You Do Anything for Lung Health?
You can, but there is nothing new or exciting about the ways to do it. The best thing about your lungs is that they are very good at cleaning themselves. Your lungs will naturally repair themselves and move mucous and toxins up into your airway where you can cough them out. Studies show that even the lungs of heavy smokers will look the same as the lungs of nonsmokers after 20 years of not smoking.
For best lung health, the ALA recommends:
- Not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
- Not vaping
- Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables for antioxidants
- Getting regular aerobic exercise
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding outdoor and indoor air pollutants
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air pollution can be dangerous to everyone at very high levels. If you have a lung disease, even lower levels can be dangerous. You can check your local air quality at this EPA website.
Indoor air pollution from sources like cooking, cleaning, secondhand smoke, and aerosol spray chemicals can also damage your lungs. The EPA recommends using a portable air purifier or placing an air filter in your furnace, central heating, or and air-conditioning system. ALA adds using a high-quality vacuum cleaner frequently in your home.
You can protect your lungs naturally, and you don’t have to pay for a lung cleansing or lung detox product. Your lungs will do a fine job of cleaning themselves, as long as you follow the ALA tips for lung health.