Updated: May 18
Exposure to bush fire or wild fire creates health hazards in many forms; burns, smoke inhalation, toxic material inhalation, absorption via the skin of unseen but ever- present poisons, ingestion of tainted food and drink - just a few examples of what amounts to very real health threats for any animal or human exposed for even a short amount of time.
There are the obvious issues such as asthma or aggravation of existing chronic health issues and for extreme issues, hospitals are on standby to help. Non-drowsy antihistamines are often necessary to alleviate allergy-type inflammation which causes stinging and burning of eyes and nose - and throat. But what of self care in areas where you are unable to access professional help? Fires are part of life, but the 2019/20 wild fires in Australia are not only killing countless wildlife and domestic/livestock innocents, the extensive nature and duration may be affecting health far more than anyone has had time to consider.
Chemical gases, burnt fuel and particulates are freely absorbed via the skin and straight
into the lungs. While a wet scarf or surgical mask will help to some degree, what can you do once you have these things in your system? Haze will irritate eyes and the throat, paving way for inflammation and opportunistic infection. While you can't magically clear the air, you can alleviate the symptoms caused by smoke.
And what can you do to effectively treat burns? Once emergency care has been done, and just as importantly, analgesia given to relieve pain, there are many amazing measures you can take to ensure burns heal well. First off, PLEASE get the care you, your loved ones or your animals need - burns kill and are unbearable to just put up with. It's also a good idea to keep these suggestions on hand in your home first aid kit (VITAL!) - as the od saying goes, BE PREPARED.
TIPS FOR DURING AND AFTER SMOKE EXPOSURE AND INHALATION
Rescue Remedy should be on hand in every home, club, school, public place 24/7. I have lost count of the number of emergency situations I have witnessed, successfully using Rescue Remedy to calm down people off all ages, avoiding further trauma and issues. Give or take as often as you need.
Drink lots of clean water. Absolutely vital. You may not realise it but your blood and vital organs suffer when exposed to smoke. Keep your body hydrated. Add fresh lemon or lime juice to your water to help alkalise (smoke is highly acidic).
Saline nasal spray, neti pot flush or breathing in steam to soothe damaged and irritated mucous membranes. Adding thyme, tea tree, eucalyptus or oregano oils or herbs to the spray, flush or steam will help fight opportunistic infections.
Taking a multivitamin and mineral to maintain adequate nutrition. If you can access it, be sure to get a multi rich in glutathione to fight oxidative smoke damage.
Calming herbs such as ashwagandha, kava, chamomile and lemon balm in a tea will help fight the stress of coping with what is going on all around you.
Add a pinch of Himalayan salt to your drinks to increase elemental minerals while avoiding electrolyte depletion.
Warm drinks a few times a day. While it seems strange to want to drink something warm in what is essentially a hot environment, it soothes the cilia of mucous membranes which encourages movement of toxic particles which can form a glue-like coating, creating irritation and inflammation.
Antioxidant supplementation, especially vitamin C - to encourage cellular healing and fight oxidation.
Homeopathic detox remedies such as Nux Vomica 30c, Hydrastis 30c, Sulphuris 30c; Belladonna 30c for reddened irritation and Aconitum 30c for early irritation.
Slippery elm and marshmallow tea (herb, not lollies!) to soothe mucous membranes of digestive system and lungs. Truly soothing, it actually works like a mild pain relief as it coats the mucous membranes.
Ginger, dandelion, green, coriander seed and red clover tea to fight nausea, digestive problems and to help flush the blood and kidneys/liver which will be working overtime 24/7 to fight what the body identifies as an invader.
Add a little bicarb to your water in the morning and night to increase detox process and alkalise the body from the acidity of stress and smoke.
Wash your skin thoroughly daily to help slough off old cells and built up particulates from the smoke and fire. Even if water is scarce, a bowl of clean water, a little cooling peppermint essential oil and a teaspoon of bicarb will not only clean but cool and detox your skin (which is your biggest vital organ) from the effects of fire. Epsom salts added to wash water will boost detox effects.
If you have soothing eyedrops, use them as needed. Home made eye baths can be made using a medicine cup or eye dropper: chamomile, euphrasia or green tea will soothe reddened eyes fast. Gently rub a few drops of olive oil, pawpaw cream (non petroleum jelly type!) or castor oil over the eyelids and massage into the eyes to soothe.
Your local health shop, if accessible, should stock Quercetin, which is a plant based antihistamine which, while it takes a while to work, is long-acting and relives all manner of allergy type symptoms.
NATURAL BURN CARE
Burn care and natural medicine don't usually make it into the same conversations; I'm not sure why, burns have been around from the beginning, and so have natural, or traditional medicines. Be sure to ALWAYS seek out suitable analgesia as burn pain is crippling and should never be ignored. You may not believe, but all are tried, true and tested many times over and have done their job when professional burn care was not available.
These measures can also be used in animal wound care when possible.
Fresh aloe vera applied liberally.
Wash with bicarb or vinegar dissolved in water and allow to dry. Repeat often.
Soak cloths in strong black tea and hold over burns to allow the tannins to soothe burns
Colloidal silver and lavender oil spray.
Wet cloths and soak in soy sauce. Freeze and alternate to apply to burns. Once warmed by heat of burn, put in freezer and use a new one. Repeat. Soy is a natural burn healer.
Calendula and pawpaw creams naturally assist in soothing burns once initial heat is over.
If you have access to a health shop, Fucoidan is a seaweed anti inflammatory which provides incredible support to alleviate pain.
Above all, stay safe. Watch out for others. Watch out for animals in distress. Watch out for those who have become homeless - don't let this add to our shockingly dismal statistics. Report arsonists. Regardless of how the fires started or spread, our firefighters need all the support and help they can muster. Don't be afraid to reach out to others or for help yourself.
Finally, go vegan. We've all heard varying stories about how up to a billion Australian animals have died in the fires. And how sad farmers are having to kill animals already destined to be killed in equally cruel ways. It is going to take some time to fix the ecological disaster, if it even can be restored. And I am sure measures are underway to mass farm meat and dairy animals to make up for the loss. Why not just go plant based? It is the number one thing you can do for the future of the natural kingdom of our nation. Farming and animal management processes need to change for the health of the soil, waterways and remaining animals - and people.
God Bless you - and may He bring gentle cooling rain soon.