TikTok Says We Should Be Cleansing Our Lungs. Here's What We Know

What do Shaolin monks and TikTok users have in common? They both believe in cleaning your lungs. However, they have different approaches. Some Shaolin monks will start each day with a strong run to clean their lungs and get fresh air into the body. TikTok users have different methods and purposes, such as creating a tea using ginger, ginseng, thyme, elderberry, and mullein to remove the effects of smoking and air pollution. Some will have lung-cleansing juices that include pineapple, grapefruit, green apple, lettuce, and turmeric.

Your lungs do a lot of work to deliver oxygen from the outside air into your blood. Your exhale removes carbon dioxide waste from your body. Pollutants in the outdoor and indoor air can cause asthma, allergies, or chronic lung conditions (per National Institutes of Health). The tar from smoking cigarettes sticks to the lining of your lungs and destroys the small air sacs that carry oxygen (per MD Anderson Cancer Center). While it might seem to make sense to clean your lungs of all the nasty pollutants that might be in the air, the American Lung Association says it's not necessary.

Why you don't need lung cleansing

The American Lung Association says your lungs already cleanse themselves when you don't expose them to air pollutants and smoke. While you can avoid smoke by quitting smoking, sometimes air pollutants like dust are hard to avoid. Most of the larger particles in the air get trapped by the small hairs in your nose. Blowing your nose or sneezing can help rid your body of these particles.

If the smaller pollutants in the air reach your air passages, they stick to the mucus, where the cilia work like brooms to sweep the mucus and pollutants up to your throat. Then, you'll cough up the mucus and probably swallow it. Should some dust particles sneak by your air passages and enter your lungs, cells called macrophages will capture the particles and move up your respiratory system until they reach the mucus and cilia to be carried out. Your lungs also have proteins that bind to any germs so they can wipe them out (per Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety).

Keeping your lungs healthy

Even though you don't need to clean your lungs by drinking viral TikTok teas or juices, you can do a few things to keep your lungs functioning optimally, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Those who already smoke should enroll in a smoking cessation program, and those who have family or friends who smoke should avoid enclosed areas where they smoke.

A diet rich in antioxidants can keep your lungs healthy and your weight down. Obesity can sometimes result in sleep apnea. You can reduce indoor pollutants by making sure your home has good ventilation and changing out the air filters often. The American Lung Association suggests vacuuming often to help remove dust and other pollutants from your carpets. Air quality can change every day, so avoiding outdoor activities when the air quality is poor can keep your lungs healthy. While you might not need to run like a Shaolin monk, daily exercise can also restore your lung function.