The quantity and quality of the air we take into our lungs is affected by the amount of mucus which lines the inner passages of the respiratory system. When there is too much mucus congesting these passageways, there is also a greater possibility for the growth of microbes. A certain amount of mucus is necessary for the protection of the membranes of the respiratory and digestive systems. The mucus serves as a fluid transportation system which also carries microbes and foreign particles out of the body. It also protects the walls of the digestive system from the acidic digestive juices which would erode them. This mucus should always be flowing up out of the lungs and down from the nasal passage. This movement of a thin layer of mucus acts like a continuously moving conveyer belt carrying microbes, viruses and other undesirable particles out of the body. There are cilia or tiny hair like structures which keep waving the mucus out of the respiratory system. When these cilia stop waving, e.g. when we smoke or take in too much pollution; when the amount of mucus is too little or too much; when the mucus is too thick, i.e. not watery enough, then this defensive transportation system breaks down. It is at that moment that microbes and viruses have a chance to get in and multiply in the respiratory system. Then our body counteracts by producing large amounts of mucus so as to «drive out the intruder».
Most people suffer from excessive build-up in their system. This leads to frequent colds, sinusitis and, in general, a «phlegmatic» condition with less energy and vitality. After considering and employing the information in the accompanying articles concerning the foods which create excess mucus and those which are alkaline and acidic, one may choose to employ the following techniques for removing excess mucus from the system, thus freeing the respiratory passages:
1. Washing the nostrils with warm salt water
This is an effective cleansing technique recommended by many doctors. In the past people used to do this in the sea but this is no longer recommended considering the various pollutants which may be found throughout the Mediterranean.
a. Wash your hands well and make sure that the glass or cup you use is equally clean.
b. Fill the glass with warm water at body temperature and one level teaspoon of salt or less, according to one’s taste. The correct proportion of salt is important. If there is too little or too much salt, the solution will sting the inner membranes of the nose. If, however, the solution is right, it will make this an extremely pleasant experience to look forward to practicing every day until the problem is overcome.
c. Make a cup out of your right palm. Pour the water into your palm, put the glass down and close your left nostril with your left hand.
d. Immediately bring your cupped right palm up to your right nostril and slowly inhale the water into the nostril and take it down into the mouth.
e. Spit the solution out of the mouth and blow each nostril one by one removing any remaining solution of mucus.
f. Do this three times alternately through each nostril. Reverse the hands when doing it through the left nostril.
g. Now bend forward and exhale about twenty times through the nostrils, blowing out any residue water or mucus which has accumulated in the sinuses.
h. Now you may like to gargle with a solution of warm water and salt clearing out the throat passage.
This technique may be done every day for a month or so until the excess mucus is removed. It should not be done when one has a cold but may be done when one is just getting the hint of a cold so as to possibly avoid it. If one comes down with a cold, he should avoid this practice as it might spread the microbes to other parts of the body.
2. The stomach wash
This is an extremely effective method of removing extra mucus from the body. It is not nearly as unpleasant as most people imagine it to be before trying it. The fact is that the stomach is the storehouse of mucus for all the body and occasionally needs to be cleaned out. One way to do this is to drink one liter of warm salt water (with one level soupspoon of salt) as quickly as possible. Then, making sure that the fingers of the right hand are very clean, you stick the index and middle fingers down into the back of the throat and tickle it until you provoke vomiting (make sure that you do not irritate your throat with your fingernails). Continue to provoke vomiting until you feel that most of or all of the water has been thrown out. At the same time mucus will flow forth from the sinuses and tears from the eyes. All of these organs will be simultaneously cleaned.
This technique should be performed on an empty stomach, preferably in the morning upon waking. It may, however, occasionally be used to liberate the stomach of disagreeable or toxic foods which are disturbing the system. It can be used in order to combat a cold or occasionally to remove excess mucus from the body. A half an hour after cleansing, a herb tea, such as chamomile, should be taken with pure honey, so as to soothe the lining of the esophagus.
Many people have an aversion towards this technique but they should realize that the body ultimately is a machine which needs to be cleaned just like any other machine, especially when we put into our machine all types of toxic food substances. We are very particular about outer cleanliness but seldom give equal importance to inner cleanliness which is essential to health.
If you have doubts concerning whether the above two techniques are safe or suitable for you, you may check with your doctor.
There are also two more advanced techniques for the purification of the respiratory passages: They are called «kapalabathi» (cleaning of the forehead or sinuses) and alternate breathing. These will be discussed in future articles.