Know Your Body Series – The Respiratory System

Know Your Body Series - The Respiratory System

Claremont Colonic Newsletter

Your respiratory system is the network of organs and tissues that help you breathe. This system helps your body absorb oxygen from the air so your organs can work. It also cleans waste gases, such as carbon dioxide, from your blood. Common problems include allergies, diseases or infections.


What is the respiratory system?

The respiratory system is the network of organs and tissues that help you breathe. It includes your airways, lungs and blood vessels. The muscles that power your lungs are also part of the respiratory system. These parts work together to move oxygen throughout the body and clean out waste gases like carbon dioxide.


What does the respiratory system do?

The respiratory system has many functions. Besides helping you inhale (breathe in) and exhale (breathe out), it:

  • Allows you to talk and to smell.
  • Warms air to match your body temperature and moisturizes it to the humidity level your body needs.
  • Delivers oxygen to the cells in your body.
  • Removes waste gases, including carbon dioxide, from the body when you exhale.
  • Protects your airways from harmful substances and irritants.


What are the parts of the respiratory system?

The respiratory system has many different parts that work together to help you breathe. Each group of parts has many separate components.

Your airways deliver air to your lungs. Your airways are a complicated system that includes your:

  • Mouth and nose: Openings that pull air from outside your body into your respiratory system.
  • Sinuses: Hollow areas between the bones in your head that help regulate the temperature and humidity of the air you inhale.
  • Pharynx (throat): Tube that delivers air from your mouth and nose to the trachea (windpipe).
  • Trachea: Passage connecting your throat and lungs.
  • Bronchial tubes: Tubes at the bottom of your windpipe that connect into each lung.
  • Lungs: Two organs that remove oxygen from the air and pass it into your blood.

From your lungs, your bloodstream delivers oxygen to all your organs and other tissues.

Muscles and bones help move the air you inhale into and out of your lungs. Some of the bones and muscles in the respiratory system include your:

  • Diaphragm: Muscle that helps your lungs pull in air and push it out.
  • Ribs: Bones that surround and protect your lungs and heart.

When you breathe out, your blood carries carbon dioxide and other waste out of the body. Other components that work with the lungs and blood vessels include:

  • Alveoli: Tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place.
  • Bronchioles: Small branches of the bronchial tubes that lead to the alveoli.
  • Capillaries: Blood vessels in the alveoli walls that move oxygen and carbon dioxide.
  • Lung lobes: Sections of the lungs — three lobes in the right lung and two in the left lung.
  • Pleura: Thin sacs that surround each lung lobe and separate your lungs from the chest wall.

Some of the other components of your respiratory system include:

  • Cilia: Tiny hairs that move in a wave-like motion to filter dust and other irritants out of your airways.
  • Epiglottis: Tissue flap at the entrance to the trachea that closes when you swallow to keep food and liquids out of your airway.
  • Larynx (voice box): Hollow organ that allows you to talk and make sounds when air moves in and out.

Conditions and Disorders

What conditions affect the respiratory system?

Many conditions can affect the organs and tissues that make up the respiratory system. Some develop due to irritants you breathe in from the air, including viruses or bacteria that cause infection. Others occur as a result of disease or getting older.

Conditions that can cause inflammation (swelling, irritation and pain) or otherwise affect the respiratory system include:

  • Allergies: Inhaling proteins, such as dust, mold, and pollen, can cause respiratory allergies in some people. These proteins can cause inflammation in your airways.
  • Asthma: A chronic (long-term) disorder, asthma causes inflammation in the airways that can make breathing difficult.
  • Infection: Infections can lead to pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs) or bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchial tubes). Common respiratory infections include the flu (influenza) or a cold.
  • Disease: Respiratory disorders include lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These illnesses can harm the respiratory system’s ability to deliver oxygen throughout the body and filter out waste gases.
  • Aging: Lung capacity decreases as you get older.
  • Damage: Damage to the respiratory system can cause breathing problems.


How can I keep my respiratory system healthy?

Being able to clear mucus out of the lungs and airways is important for respiratory health.

To keep your respiratory system healthy, you should:

  • Avoid pollutants that can damage your airways, including secondhand smoke, chemicals and radon (a radioactive gas that can cause cancer). Wear a mask if you are exposed to fumes, dust or other types of pollutants for any reason.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and drink water to stay hydrated.
  • Exercise regularly to keep your lungs healthy.
  • Prevent infections by washing your hands often and getting a flu vaccine each year.

When should I call a healthcare provider about an issue with my respiratory system?

Contact your provider if you have breathing trouble or pain. Your provider will listen to your chest, lungs, and heartbeat and look for signs of a respiratory issue such as infection. To see if your respiratory system is working as it should, your healthcare provider may use imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI. These tests allow your provider to see swelling or blockages in your lungs and other parts of your respiratory system.
Your provider may also recommend pulmonary function tests, which will include spirometry. A spirometer is a device that can tell how much air you inhale and exhale. See your doctor for regular checkups to help prevent serious respiratory conditions and lung disease. Early diagnosis of these issues can help prevent them from becoming severe.


7 Natural Ways to Help Clear Your Lungs

7 Natural Ways to Help Clear Your Lungs

Claremont Colonic Newsletter
The lungs are susceptible to infection due to particle exposure, chemicals, and infectious viruses. In fact, it’s estimated that four million people die annually from respiratory tract infection and pneumonia alone.
Additionally, in the US, one in every five people die from cigarette smoke. Lung clearing techniques may open airways, reduce inflammation, reduce the effects of smoke and pollution in the lungs, and improve lung capacity. Here’s how you can clear your lungs naturally.

A little prevention…

When we think of lung disease, it’s hard not to think about COVID-19. Experts say almost all of the serious consequences people face from coronavirus features pneumonia. And evidence suggests that pneumonia caused by coronavirus is particularly harsh. Currently, there is no cure, but efforts are underway to develop a vaccine. In the meantime, should you develop any lung disorders, you’ll need to do what you can to keep your lungs clear.

Steam inhalation

Research suggests that breathing in steam opens the airways and helps the lungs drain mucus. Cold or dry air can worsen lung conditions because the mucus membranes dry out, and blood flow is restricted. Steam adds warm moisture to the lungs and, when inhaled, can give you immediate relief with your breathing. Using steam therapy offers an effective temporary solution to improve respiratory function.

Try a cup of green tea

Green tea, due to polyphenols (compounds that boost the immune system), has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the lungs. In fact, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition looked at the link between green tea and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There are two main types of COPD: Chronic bronchitis, which creates a long-term cough and mucus, and emphysema, which damages the lungs over time. Both make it difficult to breathe. The study found that drinking two cups of green tea per day is associated with a reduced risk of COPD.

Supplement with turmeric

When breathing becomes difficult, and your chest feels heavy and congested, your air passages likely have excessive inflammation. Consuming turmeric can reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms. Numerous research has found that curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is the reason turmeric has been found to have broad anti-inflammatory activities. Keep in mind though; you need more than a little sprinkle of turmeric on your food. Supplementing is the best alternative to reap the benefits.

Peppermint tea

Hot tea can soothe a scratchy throat, but peppermint tea goes one step further to help break up mucus and inflammation caused by pneumonia. Research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that certain herbs like peppermint provided a soothing effect on the throat, helped expel mucus, and eased the inflammation associated with pneumonia.

Teaspoon of honey

Research suggests that honey has antiviral and antibacterial properties. But a study published in JAMA Pediatrics looked at buckwheat honey versus dextromethorphan (DM) as a treatment for cough due to upper respiratory tract infection in children. The study found that a single dose of honey administered 30 minutes prior to bedtime provided symptomatic relief for cough and sleep difficulty in kids with infection. Interestingly, when comparing honey with DM, there was no significant difference.

Effective or controlled coughing

When lungs produce excess mucus, everyone coughs. But not all coughing is effective to loosen and expel mucus from the lungs. Sudden, explosive, or uncontrolled coughing can cause airways to collapse, and mucus to become trapped, suggests the Cleveland Clinic, further aggravating the lungs. Effective or controlled coughing is forceful enough to loosen mucus and carry it through the airways without causing them to collapse. Controlled coughing also helps retain energy and oxygen.

To control your coughing:

1. Sit on a chair or the edge of your bed and place both feet flat on the floor. Lean forward slightly and relax.
2. Folding your arms across your abdomen, begin to breathe in slowly through your nose.
3. When exhaling, lean forward while pressing your arms against your abdomen.
4. Cough sharply and quickly, two to three times through a slightly open mouth. The first cough should loosen the mucus in your chest and move it through your airways. The second and third cough allows the mucus to come up through the air passages and expel.
5. After coughing, breathe slowly and gently through your nose (sniffing). This will help prevent mucus from flowing back down your airways.
6. Rest and repeat again if needed.

Daily exercise

Thirty minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week can greatly increase your capacity to breathe suggests the American Lung Association. While exercising with lung problems may be intimidating, exercising helps your lungs and heart stay stronger. Additionally, you’ll be able to perform daily tasks better.

Don’t take your breathing and respiratory health for granted

If you’re worried about the state of your lungs, there is some good news. Although the lungs are susceptible to infection, they are self-cleaning organs that will heal once exposure to pollutants are eliminated. Now is the time to make some lifestyle adjustments. By exercising, eating healthy foods and not smoking, you’ll help your lungs stay strong and better fight off infection.

Contributor: Katherine Marko – Alternative Daily

People are Zapping Their Brains at Home to Improve Focus and Clear Brain Fog. But is it Safe?

People are Zapping Their Brains at Home to Improve Focus and Clear Brain Fog.
But is it Safe?

Claremont Colonic Newsletter
At-home brain stimulation is flourishing among a group of enthusiasts, who say it gives them a mental edge. The science behind why it may work is still in the early stages.
In 2021, Craig Gibbons was diagnosed with Lyme disease. His doctor prescribed him antibiotics, but the medication failed to eliminate one of his most debilitating symptoms: a lasting brain fog that made it difficult for him to focus or recall information.

So he went with a different approach: at-home brain stimulation.

Over the past few years, Gibbons had been experimenting with transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS, which delivers weak electrical currents to the brain through electrodes attached to the head.

Brain stimulation comes in many different forms, but they are all centered on the same idea: sending tiny zaps to specific parts of the brain to alter its activity. Some of its uses are well-established: transcranial magnetic stimulation is used in hospitals and clinics as a way to treat depression. Another version, deep brain stimulation, involves surgically implanting electrodes in the brain, and has been used for years to ease symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Gibbons, 32, of New York City, had heard it could be used to alleviate symptoms of brain fog.

“It helped wake me up a little bit and get things going,” he said.

Most brain stimulating techniques involve placing electrodes — conductors through which electricity travels — on certain parts of a person’s head. These electrodes send tiny electrical impulses through the skull to the brain.

Medical uses of brain stimulation typically take place in hospitals or doctors’ offices. But the use of at-home brain stimulation devices is flourishing among a group of enthusiasts, who say it enhances their mental state and gives them an edge, like on an upcoming exam or a project at work. Others credit it as a way to achieve deeper meditative states or mental clarity.

The at-home devices are available online and typically range in cost from as little as $40 to around $500. They are usually no bigger than a television remote or a smartphone; batteries, head caps and straps, saline and other accessories needed to send the weak pulses of electricity to the brain are sometimes sold separately.

Many of them are marketed as having clearance from the Food and Drug Administration, which entails a less rigorous review process than what’s needed for FDA approval.

Despite their growing popularity, many scientists oppose the use of the devices at home because not much is known about their safety in the long term, said Robert Reinhart, a neuroscientist at Boston University.

“We are talking about injecting electricity into someone’s brain. Someone could get hurt,” he said. “We need to better understand what these tools can do including any unintended consequences they may have.”

Science in its early stages

Anna Wexler, an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, studies why and how people use brain stimulation at home. She’s found that people are using the devices to treat mental health disorders or to improve mental performance.

“Depression and anxiety are the top two indications for people,” Wexler said. “But other reasons people used it for were for enhancement, so to improve focus, to improve memory, things like that.”

At-home brain stimulation began in earnest in the early 2010s, Wexler said, despite pushback from clinicians and scientists, who were concerned about safety.

“They weren’t too pleased that individuals were essentially using the same technology as they were doing but doing it at home, so using similar devices to stimulate their own brains with low levels of electricity at home,” she said.

The science behind why electrically stimulating the brain appears to aid memory and thinking abilities is still in the early stages, Wexner noted.

Reinhart led a study, published in August in the journal Nature Neuroscience, that found that delivering small electric zaps to the brain appeared to boost memory in a group of older adults for at least one month. The study included 150 people ages 65 to 88 who did not have a diagnosed neurological disorder. Patients were asked to wear a cap embedded with electrodes for 20 minutes on four consecutive days. The type of stimulation was similar to transcranial direct current stimulation, but used a different type of electrical current.

The findings suggested that aside from its clinical use, brain stimulation could one day become mainstream, similar to the way people use caffeine to increase alertness, he said.

“You can imagine a future potentially where people are using stimulation,” Reinhart said. “I think people are just overwhelmingly interested in augmenting their ability to provide a kind of cutting-edge advantage.”

Online buzz

Transcranial direct current stimulation has gained traction online. The subreddit r/tDCS is dedicated to discussing the science, technology and use of brain stimulation devices. The group boasts more than 16,000 members.

Phil Doughan, 66, of McLean, Virginia is among them.

He said he became interested in brain stimulation after listening to a podcast on Radiolab, as well as an audiobook, both on the topic.

In January, he purchased a tDCS device from medical equipment supplier Caputron for about $450, with the hope that it would enhance his meditation practice, as well as help clear brain fog, which he attributed to his age.

“I am not looking to fix anything I perceive as broken; I am looking for improvement in my mind,” Doughan said.

Kathie Kane-Willis, 53, of Michigan, said she’s been using a tDCS device that she purchased online for $250 to help alleviate some of her long Covid symptoms, including brain fog.

Since purchasing the device last spring, she said, many of her symptoms have eased.

“I’m not as brain foggy,” said Kane-Willis, who uses the device for 20 minutes at least twice a day. “It really calms you down; it’s almost like meditating.”

But whether the at-home devices actually help improve people’s mental performance is up for debate, Reinhart said, noting that the public adoption of tDCS is happening faster than the accumulation of scientists’ knowledge about the method.

Wexler said she doesn’t expect brain stimulation to achieve mainstream success until studies conclusively show that it provides real benefits.

“The baseline question is whether this is actually working,” she said. “It could be a placebo, it could not be working at all.”

To Dr. Michael Fox, an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, it’s no surprise that at-home brain stimulation has gained a fan base.

“The promise of being able to noninvasively put on a cap for 20 minutes a day and change or enhance your cognitive function is something that gets people excited,” he said.

Still, he said users should proceed with caution. In a 2016 editorial in the journal Annals of Neurology, Fox warned that at-home brain stimulation comes with some risks, some more readily apparent than others.

Known side effects can include itching, tingling sensations or small burns. Proponents of at-home use argue that these side effects are minimal, and people should be able to use them at their own risk, he said.

But brain stimulation may have more wide-ranging effects: it may enhance some cognitive abilities at the cost of others, Fox said. And while the electrical zaps are targeted, stimulation affects more parts of the brain than the user may think.

Fox said he would prefer that people interested in brain stimulation use it under medical supervision.

But for those in favor, he said, the argument goes, “we modify our brain function routinely with things like caffeine and alcohol. I can buy a cup of coffee off the shelf and I can buy a beer off the shelf. And one argument is, why can’t I buy a brain stimulation device off the shelf?”

Contributor: Berkeley Lovelace Jr. – NBC News