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The Essential 4 Series: Breathe Better Methods I

Posted Oct 23 2008 6:05pm

Hey Hey Hey!!

I know I have been gone for a while, but trust me friends, family and viewers...times are a changing! I've been so busy, people have been asking me how I have time for sleep. I do my best to make time, but right now, I have to take care of some responsibilities. One of them is this blog.
As you can see, I've got something new for you. I have smileys! I love them!
I'm so happy to be back in the swing of things and ready to help you with your health. I'm going to introduce new formats and more to my health blog. Hope you're ready!

Continuing from my last post, the "sniffles" are gone. Some herbal tea and rest kicked that to the curb. I have been working hard and making decisions regarding my career and future. My grandma is making progress but is still on life support. I am making progress too.

Last weekend, Friday and Saturday, it was over 75 degrees in NYC. As I walked through the streets of Brooklyn, I noticed something that caught my eye. Roy Ayers' "A Lovely Day" started to play through the headphones of my iPod and I took a deep inhale. As I exhaled, I focused on the most beautiful sight...The trees - they had begun blossoming with flowers and fruits.

As I continued to walk and stare, amazed at the sight before me, I noticed people entering the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I marveled at this miracle called Life. I was in awe of nature because, only 20 minutes earlier, I had been reading about Global Warming and its ill effects on this planet.

I took in another inhale. As I exhaled, I realized that this beauty comes with a price. I focused my ears and heard sneezing. My silent prayers for myself became spoken prayers for others. "God Bless You." A woman replied, "Thank you," and proceeded to blame her plight on allergies.

I can safely tell you that I haven't had allergies in a long time. I told you in the intro the various methods of better breathing I will discuss, however, the universe has opened up to me in such ways that I will talk about other things, as well. Let's just say I'm going to talk about things that I didn't plan on discussing for another 4 months (told you before I'm on a schedule! ).


Where is the source of all allergies? Where does breathing start? In the nasal cavity...starting with the nose. Let's take a look inside the nose. In order to provide clarity for better breathing, we must understand various nasal issues such as allergies and sinusitis.

Now, let's take an even closer look at the sinuses where all ills (allergies, sinusitis, etc.) manifest:
Sinuses are air pockets: Cavities that are lined with the same kind of membranes that line the nose, and they are connected to the inside of the nose through small openings about the size of a pencil lead.

Sinuses are part of the nasal air and membrane system that produces mucus. Normally, the nose and sinuses produce between a pint and a quart of mucus and secretions per day. This mucus passes into and through the nose, sweeping and washing the membranes, picking up dust particles, bacteria, and other air pollutants along the way. The mucus then flows backward into the throat where it is swallowed, down into the stomach where acids destroy any dangerous bacteria. Most people do not notice this mucus flow because it is just a normal bodily function.

When you get a cold, allergies, or sinusitis, extra mucus is created. When the mucus is clear and watery, the body is acting to cleanse the sinuses/nasal cavity (preventative measure). When the mucus is thick, sticky, yellow or green, your body is fighting a bacterial infection (acute measure). So if your mucus is clear and watery, the body is attempting to clean your nasal cavity before any infection can take hold. Once your mucus is thick and a yellow/or green color, the infection is already in your system and your body is taking steps to fight it.

You can prevent an infection from entering your body or you can fight it as it happens. I used to get allergies every time the seasons changed. Fighting the allergies as it happened never worked for me. As I took preventative measures to fight my allergies, the amount of colds I got lessened as well. Even though I'm a fan of the preventative approach, I will discuss acute methods of fighting these dis-eases.

Acute Methods

Acute methods of fighting allergies, colds, and sinusitis are taking over the counter medication or seeing a doctor so he/she can give you prescribed medication. There are plenty of herbal and all natural remedies for your nose, throat and over all allergy symptoms (mostly in the form of pills or sprays).

Even though these methods are for acute symptoms (as they are happening right now), it still takes a day or two for them to kick in. Even if you do find something that will help quicker (Vicks for instance), the feeling is temporary.

Trust me, I love Nyquil. It's the only over the counter medication that works for me. I haven't used it in years but it helped me to sleep at night. Too bad once I awoke, the symptoms all came back.

When people take these types of medications (acute or preventative conventional medicine) you think that it's the medication that has cured your ailment. That is an incorrect assumption. All medication is supposed to aid the body in its own healing process. Taking something like cough syrup for a cough doesn't cure the only stops the mechanism of coughing, which is actually a way for your body to heal. So synthetic, natural, acute or preventative medications can do one of two things for you: aid in the healing process or mask symptoms of the healing process. According to the Herbal Help for Allergies website,Antihistamines (conventional medicine for allergies) merely block the action of histamine at receptor sites. In other words, they suppress the appearance of physical symptoms but do nothing to redirect the underlying cause.

Preventative Methods

I was always a fan of preventative medicine. I never really liked pills or conventional medication, even as a small child. I figured I got it from my mom (she doesn't even like doctors) but now I see that I was always a "natural" kind of person...who liked to do things holistically.

So when I talk about preventative methods of healing, I mean methods that take time to work. Methods that take time to allow the body to heal on its own, without impeding any healing processes (fever, coughing, stuffy nose, etc.)

There was a time where I would have serious allergies four times a year. Every time the seasons would be in transition, I would have a bad head cold, stuffy nose, fever, and headache. You name it, I had it. Hay Fever and I were good friends.

I got rid of my allergies within 3 months. When people asked me how I got rid of my allergies, I would tell them "garlic" but it's so much more than that...and finally I can explain them to you. Let's start with Nose Cleaning


When I first practiced Islam (at age 11), I read many books. I needed to make sure my practice was perfect (yeah right). I read one book that explained how Muslims should bathe, brush teeth and the like. I only follow one of those suggestions now...and that is how to clean out your nose.

It's easier to do if you take a shower, but if you don't, don't worry. I'll get to you in a second
While in the shower, hold out your hand like a cup. Let the running water fill your hand. Keep your hand under the running stream of water. For beginners, hold the opposite nostril as you bring your nose to the cup of your hand. Then do a small inhale and a quick exhale.

You will probably have to practice this a number of times, to get it right. Some people would make the inhale too small and no water really gets into the nostril. Some people would inhale too deep. That leads to that burning feeling you get when you get the chlorine water up your nose. There have been times that I inhaled so deep and exhaled too quick and the water came out my mouth. That would make sense, if you look at the first picture of the nasal cavity above. You can see that the nose and mouth share the pharynx. Your body instinctively knowing that water is not air, will either send the water down the esophagus or will have the tongue make the water come out your mouth. It is very rare that your body will have any water (or liquid) go down the trachea, where your lungs lie. And that's the most awful feeling...sometimes worse than the chlorine burn you get!

When you do get it right, you can control how far the water goes up your nostril. When you bring down the water in an exhale, mucus and other particles will go with it. Do the same thing for the other nostril. I take it a step further (yeah I know TMI...but you love it ) and clean out my nose after this, while the water is still running. This is the only time I love "picking boogers."

If you're not a fan of a shower, while you're brushing your teeth or washing your face, you can do the same thing over a sink. It's a little more tricky because you have to bend in all kinds of ways to make sure that your nose is getting enough water but it's the same procedure.

Another (and better way) to clean your nose is with a Neti Pot. I haven't tried it yet but I'm hearing more and more good things about it. I'm going to get one next month, through my new part time job at the Integral Yoga Apothecary (yes, a link to the site will be in my "Health Related Links"). Instead of trying to describe it, I will provide a video, which shows you how to do it properly as well as exercises to do afterwards.

Both of these techniques will not only clean your nose, which will lead to fewer allergies, colds, and other nasal issues (do the Neti Pot/the nose cleaning every day...if you're scared, do it every other day until you get used to it). It will also help you to breathe better since you can get more air into your lungs without having to open your mouth.


Another preventative method in treating allergies and sinus issues are with herbs. I always said that I would deal with these issues before getting into herbs and food as medicine, however, I'm in such a good mood that I can't help myself. As I explained before, people would ask me how I got rid of my seasonal allergies and I would tell them with garlic. Yes, garlic did help. However, there was another herb I was taking with the garlic that made a huge difference in getting rid of my allergies. When I started taking this herb, it was for anemia. I then found out later that this herb was probably instrumental in getting rid of my allergies. As I am healthier now, when I do have any kind of allergy (food or otherwise...I mostly have food allergies now that show up as hay fever beer), I would drink some tea with this herb and in a few days, I'm much better. What is this herb I'm talking about? It's my favorite herb: NETTLE LEAF aka STINGING NETTLES.

Garlic is a great anti-bacterial and anti-fungal herb. Nettle is great for seasonal allergies. According to two studies, Butterbur is a great herb for Hay Fever symptoms. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that is very helpful in inflammatory reactions, such as allergies and asthma (both inflammatory reactions to air and air-borne products). For those who don't know, a biofavonoid is a compound that is found in citrus fruits, cherries, blackcurrants and buckwheats. As a preventative measure, use these herbs as infused teas. As an acute measure, purchase tinctures, which are more concentrated forms of the herbs.

I think I covered a great deal when it comes to the nose. Before I end this blog, I'm going to introduce Health Tips from my classmate, Matt Stokes. He's a great guy and health counselor. I hope you enjoy his health tips as much as I do.



No single diet works for everyone. We are all different.
Even if you are lucky enough to come across a diet book that works for you, it’s theories are not going to work forever. We change as we age.
The only truly healthy diet is on-going, self aware and educated.
Your diet is a life long process, not a short-term destination.
Finding a way to enjoying the process is the key.

Courtesy of

Please let me know how this post works for you. I hope you enjoyed the smileys, the information, and Matt's Health Tips. Please feel free to leave any comments. If you want to email me, you can reach me at

In the meantime...
stay strong, stay healthy, and fight dis-ease!

References -,, click on underlined text for other online references. Pictures provided by and Video provided by YouTube/Himalayan Institute - Varcho Veda.

UPDATE - When I was about to post this blog, I got a call from my uncle. My grandma passed on last night at 9:30pm, NYC time. I cried for a bit and then I felt...peace. I never smiled at anyone's death before. It has nothing to do with her not suffering physically either. Now, my grandma is unlimited. She is finally one with the universe. I'm at work right now...but I'm going to go home and process this. God is Good...and now, a mommy is with her sons. That's nice.

Stay Strong. Stay Being.

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