The lungs are the center of the respiratory system which includes the nose, throat and trachea. Air comes into the body through the nose and mouth and travels past the larynx to the trachea which branches into two main tubes or bronchi. From here air moves into the inner recesses of the lungs where the lungs transfer oxygen into the blood via small air sacs called alveoli. Each alveolus has extremely thin walls containing a network of capillaries involved in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Breathing is usually automatic and regulated in the medulla oblongata of the brain, takes place 10–15 times per minute. Inhaling occurs when a message is sent from the respiratory center of the brain to the diaphragm and certain rib muscles. These contract, pulling the lower surfaces of the lungs downward so they can fill with air. Stretch receptors in the lungs then send signals back to the brain which causes the diaphragm and rib muscles to relax. This in turn causes the diaphragm to move upward so that the air is exhaled.
Blood is responsible for carrying both food and oxygen to cells. The cells use the oxygen to convert carbohydrates and fats into energy. The byproduct of this process is carbon dioxide which the body exhales.
It happens this way: The right side of the heart pumps blood with a high concentration of carbon dioxide into the lungs. There the carbon dioxide is replaced with oxygen which causes the blood to change from a dark red to a bright red color. This indicates that hemoglobin has picked up the oxygen. The oxygen enriched blood is then pumped through the left side of the heart and next circulated throughout the body. Then the carbon dioxide is exhaled. The respiratory system is sensitive to the amount of carbon dioxide present in the blood. If this amount rises, the breathing response will increase so that more oxygen is available for energy metabolism.
Factors in respiratory health
Most people start out with a pair of bright, healthy pink lungs. As they go through life, many individuals both knowingly or unknowingly abuse and weaken their lungs. The seriousness of this cannot be over emphasized. Remember, the respiratory system is responsible for supplying oxygen to the blood and expelling waste gases. Without life giving oxygen, cells cannot utilize the energy resources that are available to them and cannot function. If the efficiency of the respiratory system begins to diminish, any energy stored in the body has to be released at a slower rate.
Cigarette smoking is a major cause of lung damage. Of the more than 4,000 substances found in cigarette smoke, two of the most dangerous are nicotine and carbon monoxide. Nicotine is believed responsible for the addictive properties of cigarettes and causes the release of epinephrine, a hormone secreted by the body. This in turn weakens the heart muscle function and blood pressure already in the normal range. Carbon monoxide prevents the blood from carrying the full amount of oxygen and over time this can be extremely harmful.
Cigarette smoke damages the lungs, bronchi, blood vessels, heart and other organs and tissues. It is associated with increased risks for all of many breathing problems and many more problems and ailments. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage and fetal death. Even secondhand smoke has been reported to increase the risk of respiratory and middle ear infections in children and has been related to deaths due to lung cancer and heart disease.
Beyond smoking, the respiratory tract is especially vulnerable to particles floating in the air due to pollution. Professor Julius Comroe of the University of California has estimated that city dwellers may take in as much as 20 trillion particles of foreign matter per day.
The respiratory system has several ways of dealing with these particles. The cough and the sneeze reflexes keep the passageways of the lungs clear of foreign matter. Cilia, the hairs in the nose support the body when it is under assault by the environment and help with air quality concerns. Not all particles are trapped here.
There are cells in the respiratory tract especially designed to engulf and rid the body of foreign particles. These particles irritate the tissues causing them to swell and produce extra mucus. The lining of respiratory tract becomes uncomfortable, sore and swelling and mucus eventually obstruct the passages. If particles are trapped further down in the respiratory tract.
Since oxygen is so vital to the energy needs of the body, it is essential that we maintain healthy lungs by breathing unpolluted air as much as possible and by supplying the body with good nutrition.
NSP offers several key products to help this intricate system stay balanced.
ALJ® (Seasonal Defense)
The key product for the respiratory system, provides year-round support for lung and nasal passages by helping to nutritionally support the body in neutralizing allergens and encouraging gentle cleansing of the respiratory tract. This formula includes boneset herb, fennel and fenugreek seeds, horseradish root extract and mullein leaf extract; ingredients known for promoting respiratory health.
HistaBlock is perfect for individuals with respiratory needs, especially those brought on by seasonal changes or airborne triggers. A powerful combination of stinging nettle, quercetin, bromelain and immature orange peel (which contains synephrine), HistaBlock supports the respiratory system during times of stress and helps maintain the health of mucous membranes and nasal passage tissues.
There are many more products that can work that aren’t listed in this article.
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For more information Contact:
Karen Olerich, Herb Specialist
Phone: (719) 495-4930
Web: Nature’s Sunshine