To live on an active volcano and to witness the power of this primal creative force of nature is awe-inspiring. And this incredible act of creation comes with some interesting side effects; namely volcanic "smog," otherwise known as vog. The word vog comes from the combination of volcano + smog + fog.
Those of us who call the Big Island of Hawai'i home know exactly what vog is. This hazy volcanic emission is comprised of mainly sulphur dioxide gas, and can cause a variety of irritations and health concerns. Ever since Kilauea erupted in 1983, residents of Hawai'i Island have been experiencing it. Due to trade wind patterns, the vog usually sticks around on the South and South West side of Hawai'i Island (the Big Island). Vog is usually the thickest and heaviest from Pahala to North Kona. Vog can affect Maui and Oahu as well, to varying degrees.
Each person is affected by vog differently. The main symptoms of vog exposure are:
- exacerbation of asthma and other respiratory conditions
- irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs
- symptoms ranging from flu- and pneumonia-like illness
- extreme fatigue
If you live in Hawai'i, or if you are thinking about coming to visit the Big Island, and you are concerned about the effects of vog, luckily there are a few pro-active steps you can take to make sure you stay comfortable and healthy while experiencing "the breath of Pele."
1. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of fluids helps clear and detoxify your body's tissues of harmful particles, as well as to flush excess mucus. Consume plenty of pure filtered water. Also be sure to consume living waters from raw fruits and vegetables. Raw coconut water is especially beneficial for the maintaining electrolyte balance.
2. Eat fresh foods rich in antioxidants and enzymes. Avoid sugar and junk food.
In times of intense vog, you will want to support your body in it's natural detoxification processes. Avoid rich, highly processed foods in favor of fresher, more simple and easy to digest foods. If you have a juicer that's been sitting in the corner collecting dust, now is a good time to bring it back out and do some juicing. My favorite juice blend is celery, cucumber, apple, ginger. Antioxidant foods help the body to detoxify. Some of my favorite antioxidant-rich foods are: gogi berries, blueberries, dark chocolate, pecans, artichoke, kidney beans, cilantro. Choose organic, of course! We are aiming to reduce our toxic load, especially when we are being exposed to environmental toxins. Adding ginger and fresh turmeric (olena) is also very helpful for reducing inflammation.
3. Plan your outdoor exercise according to air quality reports.
Check out the websites above and make sure you are not going outside and exercising in times of bad air quality. Be adaptive, and go to the gym, or do a power yoga session indoors rather than going for an afternoon run during heavy vog.
4. Purchase a quality air filter for your home
A high quality air filter for your home and rooms is highly recommended. A HEPA air filter that removes allergens will help to reduce the SO2 particles in your home. Sleep with windows closed and air filter on. Every little bit helps to reduce your exposure
5. House Plants
Plants purify the air, Adding potted plants to a room has been shown to reduce the amount of air particulates. Plants "breathe" in carbon dioxide as well as other particulates like sulphur dioxide, and give off oxygen in the photosynthesis process. Not only do house plants help clean the air, but they bring life and energy to your house. For example, hospital patients with plants in their rooms were more positive and had lower blood pressure and stress levels. Below you'll find a list of plants that have air-purifying superpowers, and they are easy to take care of!
6. Mamaki & Green tea
Mamaki is an indigenous Hawaiian shrub. It makes a delicious and nutritious tea. Mamaki is packed with beneficial antioxidants and supports the body in cleansing toxins from the blood. It also helps fight fatigue. Green tea is also a good option, with excellent antioxidant properties.
7. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is a potent natural treatment used to trap toxins and chemicals in the body, allowing them to be flushed out so the body doesn’t reabsorb them. It’s made from a variety of sources, but when used for natural healing, it’s important to select activated charcoal made from coconut shells or other natural sources.
8. Neti Pot
The neti pot is an ancient Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine) practice of cleansing the nasal passages to prevent illness. While relatively unknown in the Western world, the neti pot is very common in the East and is used to treat sinus issues. Neti pot is easy to use. For full instructions on how to use a neti pot click HERE.
9. Cannabinoid Rich Hemp Oil
Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is an active molecule found in the hemp plant. These active compounds work with our body's nervous system, immune system, and hormonal system to promote homeostasis (balance) in the body. Not to be confused with it's mind-altering cousin THC, CBD is non-psychoactive and is safe for all ages. Active compounds derived from the hemp plant are very effective and have a wide variety of health benefits. One of the main benefits of active hemp compounds is that it supports the body in a healthy inflammatory response. Brain fog, fatigue, discomfort, and many more vog related symptoms are powerfully supported by the supplementation of cannabinoids. Respiratory health is also positively supported by the ingestion of cannabinoids. Learn more...
10. Relax and Be Grateful
There is nothing better for your health and well-being than an attitude of gratitude. Worry and fear lower your vibration and your immune system. Take action by following the above suggestions, and stay positive. Even on the bad days, the air pollution in Kona is still better or on-par with L.A. You are living on Pele's island, and the vog is part of her creative magic, manifesting new land. It is an incredible thing to witness. Stay healthy, stay positive, stay Aloha!