Take a Breath: Natural Solutions for
Asthma, Allergies and Mold
Taking a nice, deep breath…most of us take this simple exercise for granted, until we have trouble doing so. In this episode of Be HEALTHistic, Drs. Steve and Drew Sinatra discuss how our ability to breathe clearly is directly connected to our cardiovascular and lung health, heart rate variability, blood pressure and stress management. The process of breathing freely is vital, but there are obstacles that stand in the way — the main culprits being asthma, allergies and mold in our indoor and outdoor environments. Our father-and-son doctor duo examine the various elements that can affect your breathing and offer up natural solutions to make every breath count.
First, the doctors discuss the connection between clear, easy breathing and cardiovascular health, as well as the connection breathing has to our emotions — and what you need to know to manage this. They share their favorite breathing techniques, as well as some digital tools that can help pace your breathing. And how about managing stress? The Doctors Sinatra discuss some natural breathing strategies for keeping stress at bay.
Next, the conversation focuses on the environmental factors that impact our breathing. From air pollution, to mold, to the hidden chemicals in our furniture — they break down the most common pollutants we are exposed to, offer advice for limiting exposure to these toxins and explain why the simple act of adding plants to your home can make a difference. Then, the doctors explain the health benefits of deep-belly laughter — and even a really good cry! — as both are tremendously valuable to heart health. Finally, Drs. Steve and Drew share their top nutraceutical options that help support strong lungs and healthy breathing.
You won’t want to miss this enlightening episode of Be HEALTHistic, with our doctors sharing their best advice for supporting healthy breathing — because the health of your lungs is so critical to the health of your heart.
LINKS & RESOURCES
- Visit the Healthy Directions website for more health and wellness content and information!
- Check out the Healthy Directions Articles Archive, where you can search for specific, health-related content from all of our Healthy Directions doctors and experts.
- At the top the discussion, Dr. Steve discussed some key reasons why focusing on breathing is so important; read this article on why your lung health affects your heart.
- For more breathing tips, here’s an article from the doctors’ Healthy Directions colleague, Dr. David Williams, on proper breathing techniques to improve overall health.
- Dr. Drew suggested a few apps you can use to help you breath more properly: Headspace (a meditation-based app), and Breathing Zone (a breath pacer app). And, you can read more recommendations from Dr. Drew here: 5 cool smartphone apps for mind and spirit.
- The doctors discussed heart rate variability during the conversation; find out more about HRV and how it’s being used as a measure to track well-being.
- Dr. Steve mentioned alternate nostril breathing; to see a demonstration on alternate nostril breathing, enjoy this Healthy Directions video with Michele Balcerek
- The doctors talked about the “HeartMath” method of de-stressing; find out more about the HeartMath Institute and access their resources.
- Drs. Steve and Drew discussed the importance of managing stress; check out this video, where Dr. Steve explains the best way to cope with stress and spare your heart.
- Dr. Drew talked about how he was impacted by mold exposure as a child, which contributed to his asthma and allergies; get more information about the symptoms of mold exposure.
- As discussed during the episode, mold can have severe impacts on your health; watch this informative video from Dr. Drew on how to deal with mold exposure.
- The doctors talked about how having fresh plants and an air purifier at home are great ways to combat indoor toxins and allergies. Check out this additional information from Dr. Drew on natural remedies for allergies, seasonal and otherwise.
- The doctors discussed the value of a good cry to detoxify and create an endorphin release; read more about how emotions are the hidden risk factor for heart disease.
- When the doctors talked about heartbreak, Dr. Steve mentioned his book, Heartbreak and Heart Disease: A Mind/Body Prescription for Healing the Heart.
- Dr. Steve mentioned the “Zutphen Elderly Study” during the conversation, which focused on dietary antioxidant flavonoids and the risk of coronary heart disease; find out more about that research.
- Dr. Drew shared that N-acetyl cysteine, quercetin, boswellia, astragalus and ashwagandha are all good nutraceuticals for lung support.
- Drs. Steve and Drew suggested some additional nutraceuticals to try, including yerba santa, licorice root and Omega-3s; get more information.
- During the Wellness Wisdom segment, Dr. Drew explained why hydration is important for healthy breathing, and mentioned an article his dad wrote about it. Read Dr. Steve’s piece about clear breathing for healthy lungs and a healthy heart.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right now, I want you to think about your breathing, and I bet you weren't thinking about it before I asked, were you? We do it every day but rarely ever think about it. It's something we take for granted.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Maybe you notice your child wheezing, or having trouble catching their breath. You can't take it for granted anymore.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Asthma and allergies seem to be getting worse every day, for young and adults alike. What's going on?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, there are things that are happening in the environment and right in your home. We'll help you find solutions to these problems, and find ways to make every breath count. I'm Dr. Drew Sinatra.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And I'm Dr. Steve Sinatra.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And this is Be HEALTHistic.
Narrator: Welcome to Be HEALTHistic, the podcast that is more than just health and wellness information — it's here to help you explore your options across traditional and natural medicine, so that you can make informed decisions for you and your family. This podcast illuminates the whole story about holistic health by providing access to the expertise of Doctors Steve and Drew Sinatra, who together have decades of integrative health experience. Be HEALTHistic is powered by our friends at Healthy Directions. Now, let's join our hosts.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Hi folks. If you like what you hear today and you want to listen to future conversations on all things integrative and holistic health, subscribe to our podcast on Apple podcasts or wherever you download your favorite podcasts. Also, check out and subscribe to our YouTube channel, which will feature video versions of our episodes, plus video extras you won't want to miss. And finally we have more with me, Dr. Drew Sinatra, my dad, Dr. Steve Sinatra, and other Healthy Directions experts over on the Healthy Directions site. So visit HealthyDirections.com to explore our database of well-researched content and information. And of course, you can always follow us on our social media channels.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: This podcast is all about breathing. So why are we talking about breathing? Why is it so important?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, you know, from the cardiovascular point of view, breathing is vital, let's face it. But I really had an awakening when I was working with my mentor, Dr. Alexander Lowen. We were doing breathing exercises, and in bioenergetic analysis I was reading an article from the Polish literature about thromboxane A2. This is a clotting derivative that occurs in the body.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And what these Polish investigators discussed was that when your breathing is full, and you're exhaling and inhaling, this freed up what we call a thromboxane A2. If you have panic breathing, in and out, or like the Type A breathing — where you have bursts in and out and you're not fully expelling all your air fully…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Which is very common today.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Oh yeah. People all the time, their breathing is chaotic. This chaotic breathing sets up the derivative of thromboxane A2. This is a biochemical cause which results in blood clotting, and under the wrong circumstance, a lot of stress intention, fear, anger, these emotions — thromboxane A2 could be problematic. Could it predispose somebody to an event? I believe it could.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So anyone that would like to prevent cardiovascular disease, or even has cardiovascular disease, you'd recommend breathing as a recommendation?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Oh, absolutely. I mean I think breathing is really key. And there's three different things you can do with breathing. I mean, you can breathe a full inhalation and an exhalation — I'm sure as a naturopath, you have lots of exercises you can do. But remember, breathing is related to laughing, and laughing is related to crying. And all three — whether you breathe deeply, you cry deeply, or you laugh deeply — all of these entities will free up the overcharged sympathetic nervous system and these situations, if you do them — cry deeply, laugh deeply, or breathe deeply — you can balance the autonomic nervous system and get your life back.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I mean, I'm a big believer in emotional release and look, the yogis for years are big on this breathing situation. And proper breathing supports heart rate variability.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, we'll definitely talk about the heart rate variability piece. So I guess for our listeners, let's say…we don't want to think that they're crazy or anything if they're in a bank and they start laughing from their belly, or crying hysterically or whatever it is — but they can do breathing. They can do something as simple as breathing in the bank line. And what I tell my patients is there's a couple different apps out there they can use.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: There's Headspace, there's one called Breathing Zone, which is the one I really like to use. It's a breath pacer. Pacing your breathing is really a way that's very easy to do for people, because you set a time or you set the amount of breaths per minute, which can be four breaths per minute, five breaths per minute, six breaths per minute, and the app paces you. So there's a visual and there's an auditory component, so you follow it in and out with your breath, and you're really focusing on that belly breathing aspect.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And when we say that, what we're talking about here is breathing in, not through your chest and the upper part of your collarbone up there, but really breathing in deeply from your belly.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, you put your hand on your belly, you breathe in, and you feel your belly rise underneath your hand. And you breathe in deeply and out deeply. Yes, that's one of the exercises that we've seen as well.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And it takes practice. So the first time you may do this, it could be challenging. But over time it becomes easier and easier and easier to breathe with your belly.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Breathing is so essential. When I was down at Sivananda, when I was testing the heart rate variability, it was amazing when I saw yogis who were there for years, their heart rate variability scores were perfect. Now to a heart specialist like myself, I said, "Oh my gosh, they're not going to get heart disease. They're not going to have a heart attack," and I wanted to get what they had. I wanted their knowledge. I wanted that heart rate variability in my body.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I'll never forget it, the same weekend when I flew back to the States, I was meeting a heart rate variability practitioner. I got lost on the way, and she had me hooked up in a dining room, and she said to me, "Are you under stress?" And I go, "Yeah, I'm under stress. I'm an hour late for the appointment, I got lost and yeah, I'm under stress." She goes, "Well, your heart rate variability tracing shows it." And then she says, "Is there anything you can do to calm down?"
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I remembered working with the yogis down in The Bahamas, and they were doing heart rate variability analysis with the machine I had — but they were doing the alternate nostril breathing just beforehand. So I said, "Oh, maybe I can try this." And she said, "What?" I said, "Alternate nostril breathing." And she knew what it was. She says, "Yes, do that." So this is what I did, Drew. I took my forefinger, placed it against my right nostril, you can do the same, and all listeners can do the same, and you breathe in to the count of four. That's the left nostril.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Now you switch fingers, switch nostrils, and you breathe out to the count of eight on the right nostril. Breathe in on the same nostril to the count of four, hold it. If you can hold it for 10, 20, 25 seconds, switch your fingers. Breathe out in the left nostril to the count of eight. In to the count of four, and you reverse it. That's why they call it alternate nostril breathing. Here's the pay off. As soon as I did that, my heart rate variability tracing normalized.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: She was amazed as a practitioner, she showed me the tracing. And one of these days, I've got to report it in a medical journal, because it's never been written up. But again, it was an "Aha." This incredible moment I had, when I was testing these yogis down at the Sivananda Institute.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So would you recommend then that people listening to this, we're all under chronic stress, that doing a simple exercise like simple nostril breathing or…
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Alternate.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: ....alternate nostril breathing. Or like what I recommend to my patients, and I do myself, is more of the paced breathing…
Dr. Steve Sinatra: The belly breathing.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: ...the belly breathing. That we should all be doing this on a daily basis. Even if it's for just five minutes — or even two minutes, let’s start off with two minutes, work your way up to five, and maybe go to 10 minutes or 20 minutes during the day.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And that's what I do, Drew. I mean, when I'm in Connecticut, in my basement I have a sauna, you've seen my sauna.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yep.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I lift weights, and I do yoga exercises, and I do stretching, and I do that whenever I can. But I always go in the sauna after I lift weights, because I get my heart rate up and I have a sweat. I do alternate nostril breathing for at least two or three minutes, and I know I'm resetting my autonomic nervous system. And I know when my autonomic nervous system is in sync, that means the stress and tension in my body are alleviated.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. Because in our society we're constantly in a sympathetic…
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Overdrive.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: ...fight or flight overdrive system. What the alternate nostril breathing does is really puts you into more of a parasympathetic state.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So it resets the heart rate variability, and you're resetting the autonomic nervous system. I mean, it's amazing. Again, these are simple techniques our listeners can do. They can try alternate nostril breathing — or they can lie on a bed, like you said, put their hands on their abdomen, breathe in deeply and let the abdomen rise underneath their hands and breathe out slowly. These maneuvers are just vital for supporting the cardiovascular system.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, and I'll share my personal experience with this. I try to meditate every morning, and for me meditation is breathing. Meditation is not about clearing your mind, or being on a mountain top and sitting in Lotus position. That to me is impractical, right? Meditation is just being quiet, it's breathing with yourself. So when I do my breathing in the morning, my meditation, I notice that my days are so much easier.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I have more patience, I have more tolerance, I feel like my brain is sharper. I can handle more stress in my life when I meditate and breathe regularly. So that's what I want our listeners to get across here, is if you just do two minutes, five minutes, maybe 10 minutes a day — that's going to make a world of difference in your life, in how productive you are, in how you can de-stress.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I mean, if you're really under stress, you can go outside, put your bare feet on the ground and do some alternate nostril breathing or belly breathing, or meditate. I mean, these are such easy maneuvers that our listeners can actually gravitate to as a way of rescue. It's almost like the rescue remedies, the Bach Flower Remedies that you and I also believe in. So I think it's essential because you're right, we are under enormous stress and tension today. We need to find certain techniques that can rescue the body.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Dad, is there another technique of breathing that you recommend?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, there's another technique that happened fortuitously. It's sort of an extension of the modern HeartMath. When I was 16 years old, my 16th birthday, I came down from my bedroom and I forgot it was my birthday, and my mom gave me this heartfelt hug and she said to me, "You are 16" and she hugged me and it was so heartfelt, I never forgot it. It was the most incredible experience I had with my mom, because I felt her motherly love. I mean, it was, it was magical. It was incredible. It was heavenly.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And then when the HeartMath people came out talking about HeartMath and de-stressing, I said, "Hey, wait a minute. Any of us can do a form, like myself when I was 16." So as a heart specialist, I would tell people when they would tell me in the office, "Oh doc, I'm under so much stress. I lost my job, my marriage is going on the rocks, my kid got run over, my dog died." I mean, I heard all these scenarios, right? I mean, one of the best things that we can do is basically just get back to basics. You know what I mean?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: It's so important. It's so vitally important. So I just feel that if you can get back to the basic feeling of love, love heals everything. When I'm under severe stress — and as a heart specialist, I know that stress can kill you. When I'm under severe stress, I do a personal “HeartMath” on myself and I recollect, I remember that situation of my mother hugging me, and I can feel it and it diffuses the stress immediately.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So for our listeners out there, when you're under severe stress, think about your first kiss. Think about the first dog you had, think about your parent loving you, think about something, you know, your wedding day. When you're under stress and you need to diffuse that stress, think about that previous healing experience, heartfelt experience, experience of love — the stress will dissipate immediately. I guarantee it.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That's so incredibly beautiful, Dad.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So we talked about mindful breathing, and what we really need to delve into now are some of the environmental factors that really infect our breathing. And as a naturopath, I'm sure you deal with this on a day-to-day basis with your patients.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, all the time, and I've also got a personal story around this as well. The environmental piece is big. Look, we've got more air pollution today than we ever have before. There's just more cars on the road, there's more toxins in our environment, there's more particulate matter in the air. Another thing that doesn't go, or at least isn't talked about in conventional medicine all that much, is mold and mold exposure. My personal story is this, is that as a kid, I think I was around six years old, our basement flooded, right?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, I remember that. Yeah.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And that's the year I developed asthma and allergies, and that's kind of set me on the path to being a chronically ill child, and all the medications that I was on. And no doctor ever asked me, "Well, is there something in your environment that's causing this, like mold?" So that kind of led me on this journey of understanding mold — because when I was 34 years old, or 33, I was living in an apartment up in Vancouver in a basement, a basement apartment, and we had a major mold exposure.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: There was mold growing on our shoes, mold growing on our upholstery. And pretty rapidly I developed asthma again, which I hadn't had since I was 18 years old, when I moved out of the house when the basement was flooded. And I couldn't breathe, and I had allergies again. I actually had vertigo develop, which is when I felt like the room was spinning.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: That's the worst.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So I knew neurologically, I was in trouble. I obviously couldn't breathe, but I was also having some neurological issues which really scared me — and then we knew it was mold. We just couldn't get out of our place immediately, or I had to stay in there another month before we could move. And I remember panicking almost, because I could not breathe — and it was really scary not to be able to get a full breath of air in without taking my inhalers. And that hadn't happened to me in over a decade.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So for me, mold is really big and I feel like it's the elephant in the room that no one necessarily addresses, because we should be. I mean any child that's coming in that has asthma, that has unexplained breathing troubles, is having more allergies than typical, we need to ask the question, "Is there mold exposure in your home? Has there been a water damaged event? Pipe breaking, a ceiling that's leaking, something wrong with the walls? Does it look like there's mold growing on them?" Window sills, bathrooms, perhaps even the car.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I've had patients that told me their cars were flooded, and then they developed symptoms of brain fog and fatigue and joint pain and all that sort of thing. Then you also ask questions about the workplace. Sick building syndrome is a real syndrome, and a lot of the times that's due to mold. So it's just something that we as doctors need to bring up with our patients — and the listeners listening to this, you need to ask that question, "Could mold be affecting my health and my breathing?"
Dr. Steve Sinatra: At conferences all the time we hear about mold, Lyme disease, electro sensitivity. And I'll tell you Drew, if any of our listeners have an illness that is not explained, and they've gone from doctor to doctor to doctor — we can tell them with, almost a surety, that if you have an unexplained illness, it's either occult Lyme disease, electromagnetic sensitivity, or black mold.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And that's where the doctors of the future really have to focus, this whole aspect of environmental medicine. Environmental medicine is going to be a field of the future. It's got to be a field of the future, because there are so many sick people around. And you mentioned asthma. Asthma is on the rise just because of the polluted air that you mentioned. I mean, everybody should have an air filter in their home, or at least in their bedroom.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Couldn't agree more. And I mean also allergies is on the rise, too. I think of allergies as this, look, you can't go out there, you can't cut down all the trees. Right? You can't cut down all the ragweed and the pollens that are out there. So what I like to talk to patients about is imagine your body like a bucket, and there's only so much that your bucket can be filled with, right? This is like the foods you're eating, and this is the stress you're under, this is the environmental toxicity that we're exposed to, right? All the different allergens in the environment.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So when your bucket's full, it's going to start to spill over — and that's when you get congestion, that's when you get sneezing, that's when you get watery eyes and you feel like you've got all this allergic type symptoms that are presenting. And really the key to that is to dump the bucket out, right? Lower the load. And one way to do that is, like you said, get an air purifier so that you're not breathing in all these toxins on a daily basis. Because what we do know is that the home environment is actually more toxic than the outdoor environment.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: This is because look, we've got carpets that have formaldehyde, we've got couches and sofas that have flame retardants, we have plastics in our home that have phthalates in them. There's all these hidden chemicals and toxins that we're breathing in on a daily basis, because we're essentially containing all of these things within our home and then we're therefore breathing them in.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: You know, one of the things that we have in our home, I have a lot of aloe vera plants in the home, but a lot of spider plants. You know what spider plants are?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: You know, where they grow and they grow these little... Well, these spider plants actually detoxify formaldehyde and toxins in the environment. I learned that years ago, and this is something that our listeners — if you live in a toxic household, having fresh plants in the house is a good idea. Especially these spider plants. Because formaldehyde, and you mentioned other toxins, really cause havoc in the human body. So it's really essential.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, absolutely.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Another thing that you said about these toxins, and we talked about…not so much about laughing or crying. You know when somebody laughs hard enough, the laughter releases endorphins, and crying does the same thing. And when people laugh hard enough, what happens? They cry. And as a cardiologist and a psychotherapist, I think crying is one of the healthiest things you can do, because not only does it detoxify toxins in the tears, but it creates an endorphin release. And whenever you have an endorphin release, this is the antagonist to a lot of toxins in the body.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So laughing, crying, and alternate nostril breathing — these are things that people can do. So to my listeners, the pearl is this. If you feel sad, if you feel really sad, give yourself permission to cry. Do you remember when you were in a movie with me when you were eight years old…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I was just going to talk about movies!
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Go ahead, talk about movies.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, I remember…
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Do you remember that one movie?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: What was it? Hoosiers?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yes.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Okay. Yeah. So for the listeners here, we were watching this movie. I must…
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Folks, this is not rehearsed. I guarantee you. This is the real deal. Go ahead. You remember this?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, I must have been eight years old at the time. I remember looking up at you and you were crying, and I looked at you and I said, "Dad, why are you crying?" Because I think as kids, right, as little boys growing up, we're taught that crying is not okay. Right? You're taught to be tough, strong, crying's not okay. So when I saw you cry like that, that was a huge relief for me to see as a child — because now as an adult, I mean, I remember watching Hoosiers a couple of years ago and I was bawling my eyes out. So, like father see, right? Like I'm watching you and I'm learning, and so that was a gift. That was truly a gift.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And it happened spontaneously. Look, I'm a heart specialist, right? And I know that...and I wrote the book “Heartbreak and Heart Disease”, and we've all had heartbreak as children. There's no doubt about it. And a lot of us stuff these heartbreaks and they're in our subconscious, and we don't cry. I came from the generation, the World War II generation, where "If you don't stop crying, I'll give you something to cry about." So we used to all shut off our crying, because we came from that generation. And I have to tell you that one thing I could not do in therapy, and when I became a certified bioenergetic therapist, is that I couldn't have my tears. No matter how hard a therapist tried, I could not have crying in therapy. But then when I saw Hoosiers, I was touched.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And folks, this is the pearl. We all have sadness in our lives, and we all have sorrow in our lives. And sometimes a movie, or a breakup of a relationship, or an event can trigger that sadness that we all have. And the pearl is this, do not stifle the sadness. You want to allow the sadness out. You want to allow the tears out, and you want to give yourself permission to cry. So when you saw me crying in the movie, I didn't care. I knew I was healing my heart. I knew I was healing my body. And I've worked with so many psychotherapists, I mean — I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, Drew, trying to cry, and I couldn't cry in therapy! But I cried watching Hoosiers, and it was the healthiest thing I can do, and that's why I saw the movie five times.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That's great. I mean, it goes back to the story about your mom and her giving you a hug when you were 16 years old. I mean the body stores memory like that, right?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: The body has memories. Absolutely right. And another quick story about laughing, I have to tell you this. My brother and I were on a ferry going from Newfoundland and Labrador. And although we were on a ferry boat, it was like seven stories high, the waves were coming over the boat. I mean I thought this boat was going to sink, I really did. Everybody was throwing up on the boat. The fear was running wild. I mean, the glasses were coming off the bar, the dishes were splattering, people were in panic. And my brother and I, we were in the movie room. We were watching the Pink Panther, and we were laughing.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And I got to tell you Drew, I knew as a heart specialist, even back then, that if I could laugh, it would get me out of my fear of being on this boat that could sink. My brother and I laughed — we were only people on a boat, I mean, to my knowledge, that didn't get seasick because we were laughing. We had this endorphin response. So what our listeners need to know, never stifle laughter, never stifle sadness. Have your sorrow, have your sadness — and breathe, because that's what laughing and crying do. They get us to breathe more, and breathing, as a naturopath, is the essence of healthy living. Proper breathing.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Amen. All right, so we've talked about so many things related to lungs and breathing, right? We've talked about the emotional aspect that's important, laughing, crying, right? Breathing, how critical that is. We discussed a little bit about the environmental toxicity piece and how that affects our breathing, and the importance of having an air purifier in the home, etc. What else is out there? What else can we leave our viewers with that will help them improve their lung function and their breathing?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, I think targeted nutraceutical support is something that we should empower our listeners with. I mean there's a lot of substances that people can take into the body that can make breathing easier. I mean let's face it, I think certain ingredients are vital for breathing. And one of them that comes to mind is NAC, N-acetyl cysteine.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Big fan of NAC. It's good for other things and other functions in the body too, like detoxification and liver support. But yeah, it's a great support for the lungs.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And remember it's broken down to glutathione. And you remember that study, there was a viral study done years ago, where people who took a thousand milligrams of NAC had a shortened viral prodrome or syndrome by taking NAC. Because remember, if it's broken down to glutathione, and if you take vitamin C at the same time or a little bit of selenium, now you're getting the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase, which is one of the best immune supports you can have. So it just makes sense to take N-acetyl cysteine. I absolutely love it. I take it every day.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. What else is out there besides NAC? What else do you like for lung support?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Oh, I like quercetin. My first introduction to quercetin as a cardiologist was the Zutphen Elderly Study. This was a study of elderly Dutchmen, these guys were like 80 years old and above, and the study is still going on. The study will end when everybody dies, because what they're looking at, the endpoint was death. And what they looked at in the study was the value of quercetin. What does quercetin bring to the table?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, it's one of these premiere antioxidants that helps to detoxify the body, it helps with breathing, and it helps with stabilization of membranes. And where do you get quercetin? Onions, apples and black tea. So in this Dutch study, they looked at these Dutchmen — and the more apples they ate and the more onions they ate and the more green or black tea they took in, the longer they lived. That's what they call it a lifelong elderly study.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, and also I mean, you've probably used this in your practice too, but quercetin is great for allergies, great for seasonal allergies. I almost think of it like a natural Benadryl. So it's got many different functions and uses.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So NAC and quercetin are sort of the bookends. Boswellia…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, boswellia. Yep.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: What do you like about boswellia?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, boswellia ties into everything that we were talking about on a previous podcast, inflammation, right?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Boswellia reduces inflammation. A lot of these chronic lung conditions that we're seeing today, there's inflammation present — so boswellia is there to reduce inflammation.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, and talking about these Indian herbs, I am a big fan. In fact, I take these every day, not only in our own lung product, but I take ashwagandha. I just love that. And there's another one that starts…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Oh, astragalus. I think it's astragalus.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Astragalus and ashwagandha. I think as adaptogens, they're phenomenal. These are essential nutrients that I take in every day.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. Well, in other traditions like Chinese medicine, astragalus is like a lung tonic, right. Helps build chi in your lungs, so that's a great use for it, as well. And yeah, I agree with you, ashwagandha being an adaptogen, helping people react and not react as distressed as much as they should.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right. So, there's a lot of nutraceutical supports you can really take. I think even garlic and onions bring something to the table here, with [inaudible] activity. Any mucolytics come to mind? Can you think of anything that can free up mucus? Natural?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. Yeah. I mean there's Yerba Santa, that's an herb that has some expectorant-like qualities to it and there's lots of…
Dr. Steve Sinatra: What about licorice root?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, licorice root is good too. Yep.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah. I've had great success with licorice root as an anti-inflammatory in the body. The only thing is to our listeners, if you have high blood pressure, you don't want to take licorice root, for sure. Because licorice root has a propensity of lowering the potassium in the body. So with some of these hypertensive meds or diuretics, you want to stay away from licorice root.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Or, if you are going to take a small amount, just monitor your blood pressure and if it's not going up, then that low dose of licorice is likely safe for you.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right, and take it for short periods of time, two to three weeks.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Right.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So there's a lot of things out there. I mean, I think our listeners have a lot of options. When it comes to breathing, nobody wants to have breathing difficulties. You certainly grew up with asthma — and I developed extrinsic asthma living in the Northeast. That's why I moved to Florida. That's why I spend the pollen season in Florida, because at least down there I'm not getting this allergic asthmatic bronchitis I used to get in the Northeast.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, down there you're lowering your bucket load, right?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Exactly.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: You're dumping the bucket, so there's not as many things that are filling it up.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: That's true.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Dad, we talked about a lot of things today related to the lungs and breathing. We talked about the importance of mindful breathing, whether that's taking a moment in your day to breathe quickly, or if that's doing the alternate nostril breathing. We discussed mold, and how this should definitely be addressed in anyone that's having a breathing issue. We also discussed, in relation to that, having an air purifier to help purify and clean the air. And what else? We talked about plants too, right?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah. Adopt a plant!
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I love that.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I mean, I would at least get a spider plant inside your house. Not only are they pretty and prolific, I mean they grow like crazy. You know, the little stems just go down, you can put them everywhere — but they help detoxify the air.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, I love that, I adopt the plant. And lastly we discussed targeted nutritional supplements, right? Quercetin, NAC, boswellia.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Oh yeah. Ashwagandha.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: It's great.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And to sum it up, give yourself permission to laugh more and cry more.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And breathe.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Before we wrap up this episode of Be HEALTHistic, it's time to share our Wellness Wisdom for today. Most people think of hydration as being important for detoxification, for flushing our systems of various toxins and keeping our bodies well-hydrated. Keeping the body hydrated is also important for cardiovascular health, as it helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. But did you know that staying hydrated is equally important for healthy breathing?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: My dad actually highlighted this important fact in an article about clear breathing for healthy lungs and a healthy heart. He stated that drinking plenty of fluids and staying well-hydrated with water and ginger tea helps to reduce inflammation and promote vasodilation, which is a widening of the blood vessels that results from relaxation of the muscular walls of those vessels. Coffee, in moderation, can also help to open up the airways — but you should eliminate all sodas and sugary drinks, as sugar actually promotes inflammation in the lungs. So remember, staying hydrated is an important step in keeping all of our bodily systems running smoothly.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Remember everyone, if you liked what you heard today and you want to be an active member of the Be HEALTHistic community, subscribe to our podcast on Apple podcasts or wherever you download your favorites — and subscribe to the Healthy Directions YouTube channel. You can also find more great content and information from us and the Healthy Directions team at HealthyDirections.com.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I'm Dr. Drew Sinatra.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And I'm Dr. Steve Sinatra.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And this is Be HEALTHistic.
Narrator: Thanks for listening to Be HEALTHistic, powered by our friends at Healthy Directions, with Doctors Drew and Steve Sinatra. See you next time.
We hope you enjoyed the show. If you have any comments, show or guest ideas, please send us an email at [email protected].
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