Stressed about air pollution? We put together the ultimate kit to help you breathe easier
Opt for air purifying house plants, herbal remedies, yoga moves and more
Am I breathless because of the air pollution that’s blanketed India like an overbearing mummy saying ‘beta, sweater pehno’? Is it a COVID-19 symptom? Or is the stress of a pandemic, air pollution and well, life, giving me so much anxiety that it’s making me breathless?
The smog is getting so bad that online health platform Practo reported a 20% increase in respiratory-related searches in major metros like Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. And 35% of all queries from metros have been related to respiratory and pulmonary health concerns.
Uncontrolled deforestation, coupled with rampant construction and pollutants being emitted by heavy industries, only sets us up to lose. It all seems so overwhelming, you’ll be forgiven for crawling back into bed and hiding under your weighted blanket forever. But rallying behind brands that are committed to sustainability, and letting legislators know that the environment is a core issue for you are just two ways in which you can effect a positive change.
While we can’t wave a wand like PC Sorcar and wipe pollution off the planet, we’ve zeroed in on the most effective measures to try and combat the effects of air pollution in the short term. From time-tested herbal remedies to the cutting-edge technology, add these practices and products to your life and take a deep breathe in.
Houseplants that could help improve air quality
NASA’s 1989 study of air-purifying plants dubbed this as the class topper when it comes to getting the job done. It’s no wonder then that Areca palms are some of the most common plants you’ll spot in people’s homes.
Besides that, they’re quite low-maintenance, come in a variety of sizes and don’t need a lot of time in the sun. As long as you keep the soil moist by watering it every two-three days, the leaves won’t get those pesky brown tips.
Formaldehyde and benzene are the two pollutants areca can tackle.
What draws people to the rubber plant is the claim that it can clear up formaldehyde, one of the primary indoor air pollutants, emitted largely from things like paint and wood polish.
This plant will thrive indoors as long as you keep the soil a little moist. Keep it away from strong direct sunlight which can end up burning the leaves.
The ZZ plant is also in NASA’s list of houseplants that can help clean up indoor air quality as well. Some studies say that it can clear up toxic chemicals created by car fumes.
It’s quite a self-sufficient houseplant, requiring watering every 10-12 days — just remember to keep it out of direct sunlight.
Herbal home remedies to detox your lungs
The right blend of spices and herbs can give our insides a good boost to detox, rejuvenate and recuperate from all the damage that air pollution is doing.
Start your day with one of these herbal blends and kickstart your system. These are easily available ingredients that you’ll find in your kitchen cabinet.
Magic lung tea
Every Indian mummy’s favourite wellness guru, Luke Coutinho recently shared this ‘Magic Lung Tea’ which he says will “help the lungs expel toxic build-up and detox” and soothe that constant khich-khich in your throat.
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- 1-inch piece ginger
- 1 small cinnamon stick (Ceylon cinnamon only)
- 1⁄2 tsp basil leaves
- 1 tsp oregano
- 3 peppercorns
- 2 crushed elaichi
- 1/4th tsp fennel seeds
- A pinch of ajwain
- 1/4th tsp jeera
Boil the concoction for 10 minutes, let it simmer. Then strain and drink. You can also add organic honey or jaggery for taste.
The US-based Lung Health Institute shared a smoothie recipe that sounds like a perfect mid-day drink. It’s got lemons and oranges that they say can reduce the creation of phlegm and free radicals in the body. The drink also contains pineapple which has the enzyme bromelin which can help the lungs naturally detox.
- 1 cup fresh orange juice (2 large oranges)
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1 piece of ginger (peel removed) 2″ long up to 1″ thick
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped pineapple (can be fresh or frozen)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp peppermint oil (or 5 peppermint leaves)
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender, blend then serve immediately. You also can store half the smoothie in the fridge for a snack later.
Anti-pollution face masks
A face mask can protect you from inhaling hazardous air particles and contain the spread of COVID-19. With a variety of styles, tech and fabrics in the market now there’s really no excuse to skip out on wearing this essential accessory.
Samurai face mask by Hidesign, ₹395
Certified by SITRA, one of the approved fabric testing labs in India, the mask has 5 layers to filter out microparticles and has an adjustable elastic band that goes around the head, reducing the strain on your ears.
Airific 2.0 anti-pollution mask, ₹695
This mask claims to have a nanotechnology woven layer which keeps your airways clear, no matter the AQI.
Motion mask (N95) by Prana Air, ₹3,490
The mask has 5 layers of protection including a HEPA filter, and a fan to help circulate the air. It’s battery powered and can last for up to 5 hours.
Yoga to help you breathe easier
While we’re more enchanted with mastering the complex moves that make great Instagram shots, don’t dismiss the humble kapalbhati pranayama for its amazing benefits.
This kind of mindful breathing practice can ease the mind and nerves, push toxins out of our body and bring your mind and body in sync. Pune-based Apoorva Jayarajan, a certified Hatha yoga instructor tells us that it regulates your breathing and helps in better circulation.
You may feel awkward doing it at first, we know we did. Watching Baba Ramdev’s stomach wave like a dupatta fluttering on a windy day can scare you into never giving it a try. Start slow, ease into it and practice it frequently.
Air purifiers for the home
Paying for clean air in your own home might sound like something out of Doctor Seuss’ The Lorax, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Turn your home into a sanctuary against air pollution with these smart investments.
Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Air Purifier, ₹50,310
The Ferrari of air purifiers, this model circulates cool air through the room and displays a real-time AQI reading, which may or may not trigger your OCD.
Philips High Efficiency Air Purifier, ₹19,566
Capable of battling against particles as small as 0.02 microns, this easy-to-use device can clean up your bedroom air in about 10 minutes.
KENT Aura Room Air Purifier, ₹9,290
The carbon filter in this model also clears out bad odours and fumes, perfect for covering up the smell of burnt dal or cigarette smoke.