Herbs + Supplements for Wildfire Pollution

Herbs + Supplements for Wildfire Pollution

By Kelsey Conger

Clinical Herbalist

wildfire photo.jpg

Wildfire season is upon us here in Southern California. Locals know the hot and windy months of September and October have always brought the looming fear of fires. Unfortunately, due to the climate crisis, those wildfires are becoming more common and more widespread. This of course has led to a new concern amongst the public, across the country, about air quality.

We know that worrying about air pollution and wildfires is probably the last thing you needed, but don’t get too stressed because we are here to help! 

Exposure to smoke in the air from a wildfire has an immediate impact on the body. Sore throat, itchy and watery eyes, and dry sinuses are among the most common symptoms. Increased toxins in the blood occur as particles in the smoke are inhaled and absorbed into the body. As the wildfires become more severe and frequent, this exposure to smoke and poor air quality has become more of a chronic problem that returns year after year.

So what can you do to protect yourself from the damaging effects of poor air quality?


Check the Air Quality

Firstly, check the air quality index in your local area. Generally time outside in the fresh air and sunshine is always a good thing, but now it’s important to check the weather before heading out. For many people, especially those with allergies, asthma, or heart conditions,  an AQI reading as low as 26 can trigger breathing problems. For most people however, the issues begin when the AQI is at 51 and this is when it’s best to avoid exercising outdoors. When the AQI reading reaches 100, it is most definitely recommended to exercise indoors regardless of health status. Above these numbers, it’s best to stay inside as much as possible.


Basic Tips to Stay Safe

It’s essential to stay hydrated with all this smoke in the air. Staying hydrated will help your body cope with and flush out the toxins absorbed from the air. Always wear a mask when outdoors to help prevent inhalation of smoke particles (and the spread of cor*navirus). In addition, we highly recommend investing in a HEPA air filter. These are important in a time where air pollution is widespread, but especially now that wildfire smoke pollution has become so prevalent. Placing one of these in your home, ideally somewhere you spend a lot of time like a bedroom, will have an immediate and noticeable impact on your breathing quality. 

Consume plenty of antioxidant rich foods, such as green tea, berries, leafy greens, onions, mushrooms, and as many colorful fresh fruits and vegetables as you can. Inflammation busting kitchen spices are a great ally as well! Thyme, Oregano, Turmeric, Ginger, Cinnamon, Paprika, and many others you know and love are high in antioxidants, helping your body to flush and fight off exposure to airborne toxins.


Herbs + Supplements for Support

There’s no need to get too stressed over the air quality, as there is actually a lot that you can do to help your body deal with this new physical stressor. There’s a few things that are important to consider when helping your body deal with air pollution.

First, we need to think about reducing inflammation and free radical damage caused with antioxidants. This means eating plenty of antioxidants in your food, supplementing with Vitamin C, Glutathione, NAC, and adaptogenic herbs like Tulsi and Reishi (which are high in antioxidants). 

Second, we want to help the body adapt to this new physical and emotional stressor with adaptogenic herbs. These herbs also tend to be antioxidant rich (see above) and immune modulating (see below). In addition to calming the nervous system, these adaptogenic herbs also help the body more effectively process and cope with the actual toxins found in the smoke. Reishi, Cordyceps, and Tulsi are all immune modulating adaptogens. Reishi and Cordyceps help facilitate a healthy respiratory system while Tulsi has been clinically shown to increase glutathione levels.

Thirdly, consider bolstering immunity with targeted nutrients and immune modulating herbs. Vitamin C and Vitamin D are both highly effective immune boosting supplements that have benefits beyond helping your body cope with air pollution (see below). Echinacea is a popular and effective immune boosting herb that can build up a strong immune system with consistent use. Immune modulating herbs such as the mushrooms I’ve already mentioned, Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga, is an excellent idea for long term support.

Fourth, it’s crucial to provide the body with detoxification and liver support by supplementing with NAC and Glutathione, as well as liver supportive herbs such as our Liver Detox capsules. Airborne toxins in the smoke can be absorbed into the body and bloodstream, putting additional strain on an already overworked organ - the liver. Staying hydrated is also key as the liver cannot function properly if we are not fully hydrated!

And finally, providing extra support for your respiratory system is a given. In addition to buying a HEPA filter, staying indoors when possible, and wearing a mask, there’s a few more things you can do to take it a step further. The adaptogenic herbs Cordyceps and Rhodiola both increase oxygenation in the blood, meaning they increase oxygen levels in the body which leads to greater stamina, endurance, and overall energy. Reishi and Tulsi both have shown clinical evidence to support healthy lung tissues. If dealing with congestion, doing a neti pot or taking expectorant herbs is a great way to expel debris and mucus from the lungs. Expectorant herbs include Horseradish, Mullein, and Garlic. Doing aromatherapy and herbal steams are both great ways to carry healing compounds directly into the airways and lungs to soothe inflamed tissues. It’s as simple as adding several drops of organic essential oil, like Eucalyptus and Lemon, to a spray bottle and spritzing in during a steamy shower!


What’s On the Shelf

  • Breathe by Host Defense

    • This extraordinary supplement is one of our best-seller’s and favorite picks. The three mushrooms it contains, Reishi, Chaga, and Cordyceps, help modulate immunity, improve lung health, increase oxygenation of the blood, and reduce inflammation. Take this supplement long term to see improved quality of breathing, energy, stamina, and immunity.

  • D-Hist by Orthomolecular

    • This inflammation-busting supplement is another perfect choice to help your body cope with the ongoing air pollution. It contains a combination of nutrients and herbs that together act as a natural antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying blend. If you have allergies or asthma, this is an especially supportive product to help your body deal with this new added stress.

  • Santa Ana Sniffles by WishGarden

    • This herbal tincture contains a blend of medicinals to support immunity, reduce inflammation, and help clear debris from the lungs. Nettles reduce inflammation while Echinacea bolsters immunity and Horseradish helps expel excess mucus in the lungs.

  • Throat Coat by Traditional Medicinals

    • This ultra-soothing herbal tea contains Marshmallow and Slippery Elm, amongst other herbs, which coat the throat and provide immense relief from a sore throat. These herbs soothe and heal inflamed mucous membranes, while also coating them and protecting them from further damage. This is a great preventative + healing tea to drink daily while the air pollution persists!

  • NAC and/or Liposomal Glutathione by Pure Encapsulations

    • Supplementing with NAC provides excellent support to the respiratory system and helps eliminate excess build-up in the lungs. NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine) is also a precursor for the body’s most powerful antioxidant - Glutathione. Glutathione is extremely important for a variety of bodily functions, but for this purpose it helps the body break down and eliminate toxins absorbed from the smoke.

  • Vitamin C

    • Vitamin C supplementation is an effective immune booster and helps prevent oxidative damage caused by air pollution. Vitamin C is actually an antioxidant, which is why it’s so effective at reducing damage caused by free radicals. This is a widely popular supplement whose benefits go far beyond immunity and antioxidant power!

  • Vitamin D

    • Vitamin D supplementation is another excellent choice to help boost immunity. Clinical research has shown that people exposed to air pollution tend to develop deficiencies of this important vitamin. Additionally, more and more research indicates that Vitamin D is also a great supplement to take to ward off cor*navirus, so there’s no reason not to start now!

  • Neti Pot

    • If you’ve never tried a neti pot before, now might be the time to give it a shot! While awkward at first, it quickly becomes a soothing habit you won’t want to live without. It helps to clear the nasal passages of debris and gunk, keeping it from entering the lungs. This is a great choice if you’re dealing with extra congestion or irritation from the smoke.

  • Aromatherapy

    • We have several organic essential oils to choose from, including lavender, fir needle, eucalyptus, lemon, mint, and more. We also have a diffuser available if you need one. These essential oils help to open up the airways, soothe inflamed tissues, and calm the nervous system.


Parting Words

We hope you’ve found this article to be helpful and informative. We know that this article was a little denser than usual, so don’t worry if you didn’t quite get it all. Please feel free to give us a call or better yet - stop by the pharmacy and say hello! We can answer any and all questions you have for us about this subject. If you’re interested in reading more about herbs for respiratory health, check out my previous article on the subject! 



  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/09/how-breathing-wildfire-smoke-affects-the-body/

  2. https://www.iqair.com/us/blog/air-quality/use-air-quality-monitoring-to-optimize-exercise

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4666455/

  4. https://www.360-md.com/blog/stay-healthy-during-wildfires

  5. https://thehealthbeat.com/the-best-supplements-for-air-pollution/

  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5930792/

  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2940914/