How a Lung Cleanse Can Help You Breathe Easier

July 31, 2020 6 min read

Man sitting in a field taking deep breaths

At a glance

Protecting your lungs has always been of paramount importance. However, since the emergence of COVID-19, the disease that results from the new coronavirus, lung health is more crucial than ever. Because the virus can cause serious lung complications, individuals with preexisting respiratory conditions are at particular risk of suffering severe symptoms or lasting lung damage. With that in mind, many of us are looking for ways to boost our health with a lung cleanse.

Although the lungs are self-cleaning organs, long-time smokers and those with underlying conditions may want to take steps to ensure optimal health and function(1). Long utilized by individuals with certain respiratory conditions and breathing issues, lung cleanses and detoxes can help clear the lungs and even strengthen them over time. Keep reading to learn who is a good candidate for lung cleanses and what methods are most effective for detoxifying lungs and improving health.

Why you need to detox your lungs

Lung cleanses are particularly valuable for patients with underlying conditions that affect the respiratory system. Over time, the mucus in the lungs collects microbes and pathogens. If your lungs are damaged and can’t effectively clear out the mucus on their own, you may suffer breathing issues and a full or heavy sensation that leads to discomfort. Individuals who suffer from COPD, chronic bronchitis, asthma, cystic fibrosis or another respiratory illness may want to consider a lung cleanse to protect their respiratory health.

Even if you don’t suffer from a preexisting condition or illness, lung detoxification may offer significant benefits. With the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting that air pollution causes 4.2 million deaths every year, the odds are good that your lungs could use a little extra support(2). By clearing your lungs of irritants and toxins, you can improve your lung health while potentially boosting your ability to fight off illnesses like COVID-19. Additionally, lung cleanses can be valuable to those who have to use inhaled steroids and other medications on a regular basis.

Finally, heavy smokers should consider a lung cleanse to improve their lung health. It’s no secret that cigarettes cause significant lung damage over time. Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to allow lungs to heal and protect your respiratory health moving forward.

Lung cleanse techniques you can do at home

Patients with serious respiratory conditions may need to pursue a lung cleanse in a doctor’s office or hospital. However, individuals with milder symptoms often choose to practice lung cleansing in the comfort of their own homes. The following lifestyle changes and home remedies can help you rid your lungs of mucus in order to breathe easier.

Quitting smoking

If you want to improve your respiratory health, quitting smoking is one of the most important steps you can take. Not only does putting down the cigarette pack prevent further lung damage, but it also enables your lungs to start healing. Additionally, you can improve the health of your family and pets by not subjecting them to the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Steam therapy

If you’ve ever used a vaporizer during a cold, then you probably know steam therapy is an effective treatment for congestion. When you inhale water vapor, your airways open, and your lungs are better able to dislodge mucus. Additionally, steam helps combat the effects of cold, dry weather by increasing blood flow and improving breathing.

Along with helping cold and flu sufferers, research shows that steam therapy can be useful for patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Pulmonary & Respiratory Medicine, steam therapy resulted in lower heart and respiratory rates among male subjects with COPD(3). For best results, avoid using tap water in humidifiers, especially if you’re suffering from COPD or another lung disease. Most cool mist humidifiers are safest and most effective when used with filtered or distilled water.

Woman sitting on her couch coughing


A bodily reflex, coughing enables the lungs to dispel mucus and toxins. However, you can also use controlled coughing as a way of clearing your lungs and boosting respiratory health. If you suffer from COPD or another chronic condition, your doctor may recommend that you practice controlled coughing in your home (4).

To try this lung cleanse, start by sitting on a chair with your feet flat against the floor. Next, fold your arms across your belly and inhale slowly through the nose. Then exhale slowly as you push your arms into your belly and lean forward in your chair. While you exhale, cough two or three times before inhaling again. Rest for a few seconds and then repeat the process.

Breathing exercises

You probably know thatbreathing exercises offer numerous benefits, such as controlling pain and reducing stress and anxiety. However, you might not realize that breathing exercises also support lung health. According to the American Lung Association, both pursed-lip breathing and belly breathing can have a positive effect on patients suffering from chronic lung diseases (5).

When the diaphragm isn't working properly, the body has to rely on the back and chest muscles for breathing. The end result is that patients suffer reduced oxygen levels. Over time, breathing exercises can help the diaphragm resume proper function.

To practice pursed-lip breathing, start out by pursing your lips and breathing in through your nose. Then breathe out through your mouth for at least twice as long. On the other hand, for belly breathing, you will rest your hands on your stomach while breathing in through your nose. Breathe out through the mouth for twice as long as you inhale while relaxing your neck and shoulders. The goal is to reteach your diaphragm to fill your lungs properly.

Aerobic exercise

One of the best methods of increasing lung health also improves overall wellness. Along with boosting circulation and enhancing heart health, aerobic exercise makes you breathe faster. The end result is that you can take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide more efficiently. As a bonus, exercising can help restore damaged lungs to their former health and function (6). In the long run, your body will start to take in more oxygen and move it around more efficiently as your overall fitness level improves.

So what exercises should you adopt to improve lung health? Walking, jogging, running, swimming and jumping rope all increase breath rates while getting the heart pumping. You can also tone your diaphragm and breathing muscles with Pilates, yoga and weightlifting, among other exercises.

Plate of healthy plant based food


Smoking and respiratory conditions can injure your lungs and affect their ability to function. Fortunately, you can repair some of the damage by consuming a healthy diet. Certain foods have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce chest congestion and open up the airway.


This pungent bulb fights inflammation while limiting the damage that results from free radicals. Additionally, some studies have shown that ingesting raw garlic could reduce your odds of developing lung cancer in the future(7).

Apples and tomatoes

Lung function tends to decrease naturally as a result of the aging process. Fortunately, consuming foods rich in antioxidants can help boost function while protecting the lungs from air pollution and toxins. According to a study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, consuming apples and tomatoes regularly may also help reverse lung damage in former smokers(8).

Vitamin C

You probably know that Vitamin C helps protect you from colds and other illnesses. However, many people are unaware of the fact that ascorbic acid also supports healthy lungs. Numerous studies have indicated that eating vitamin C-rich foods like oranges, pumpkins and carrots can help guard against lung cancer.

Other foods that are known for fighting inflammation and boosting lung health include

  • Turmeric
  • Spinach
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Olives
  • Walnuts
  • Beans
  • Lentils

Just as some foods are good for the lungs, others have ingredients that are harmful to your respiratory health. If you want to detox your lungs, avoid consuming foods rich in trans fats and sodium.


If you’re looking to cleanse your lungs, you may want to consider taking herbs and supplements. Around for centuries,ashwagandha has long been used by natural medicine experts to treat a wide range of conditions. According to animal studies, the herb may be effective in treating various types of cancer, including those affecting the lungs(9).

Additionally, research shows that Ashwagandha can improve cardiorespiratory health. According to a study involving Indian cyclists, individuals who consumed the herb for eight weeks saw significant improvements compared with the control group, including a 13 percent boost in vVO2max, the velocity at which the maximal oxygen uptake occurs (10).

In summary

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, an increasing number of people are looking for ways to protect themselves by boosting their lung health. While the lungs generally do a good job of cleaning themselves, individuals with underlying conditions or a history of smoking cigarettes are prone to suffering from breathing problems and other respiratory symptoms. In particular, individuals with COPD, cystic fibrosis and asthma may notice that their lungs struggle to clear excess mucus and bacteria.

While quitting smoking and getting plenty of exercise are among the best ways of boosting respiratory health, steam therapy, breathing exercises and herbs like ashwagandha are all known to detox the lungs and help promote respiratory health. Talk to your doctor to find out if one of these lung cleansing techniques is right for you.

April Maguire - Contributing Writer, Physician’s Choice

Up next: Respiratory Health: How to Keep Your Lungs Clean and Healthy