Bronchitis is a bothersome condition, marked by coughing, excessive mucus production, a tight chest and shortness of breath. It’s not a great way to start the season, but many people experience bronchitis on an annual basis around the start of fall or winter.
This form of bronchitis, known as chronic bronchitis, will generally continue to affect a person for the rest of their life. Acute bronchitis, on the other hand, can occur once and be gone forever.
Whatever the cause, it’s no doubt that bronchitis is a pretty irritating infection. Sometimes it can get serious enough for someone to have to take time off of school or work. In these cases, people are quick to run to the store to get medicine.
However, this isn’t necessary. I personally suffer from chronic bronchitis and get it twice a year. By using some of the herbal remedies in this list, I’m actually able to knock the bronchitis out of my body before it debilitates me or prevents me from getting to work.
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Without further ado, here are some of the most effective home remedies for fighting bronchitis.
This might sound a bit obvious, but many people push themselves way too hard when they are fighting off some sort of infection. One of the most important things to do when you’re battling bronchitis is to make sure that you don’t exert too much energy.
If this means taking a couple of days off work so your immune system can do its thing, then do it. The immune system requires quite a bit of energy to work properly, so preventing it from doing so by working yourself too hard is absurd!
2. Stay Hydrated
Another thing that’s important is to ensure that you stay hydrated when you’re suffering from bronchitis.
One of the most common things that people notice when they have the problem is that the mucus they have to work out in the morning is often a lot harder to dislodge than the phlegm from later in the day. This is because the body loses quite a bit of hydration in the night, and this causes the mucus to become thicker.
Drinking warm liquids throughout the day can help you replenish your fluid levels and ensure that the mucus in your lungs is thin enough to easily cough out.
3. Steam Bath
One of the best ways that you can help to loosen up things in your lungs is to take a steam bath. This is, in essence, just inhaling steam.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to boil a pot of water and then pour some into a bowl. Drape a towel over your head and inhale the steam. This will allow you to hydrate your lungs directly and can be immensely helpful for helping to loosen up any phlegm that might be stuck in your lungs.
4. Hot Showers
Another way to get a lot of steam into your lungs is to simply take a hot shower. One of the best things to do when you’re showering is to put a bit of essential oils, like lavender or eucalyptus oil, at the far end of the shower. This will vaporize with the steam and will help to loosen up some of the mucus in your body even more.
5. Essential Oil Steam Bath
If you’re going to be making a steam bath, then you might as well make it more effective than simply using water.
Putting a couple drops of lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus oil into your steam bath before breathing the steam can be incredibly helpful for helping you loosen up any secretions stuck in your lungs.
Essential oils can be found anywhere that sells aromatherapy products. Places like health food stores and metaphysical shops often carry these products, and sometimes you can find them in a good pharmacy.
6. Use a Humidifier
It’s important to keep the air that you’re breathing moist, especially if you’re suffering from a problem like bronchitis. One of the best ways to do this is to get a humidifier. These devices help to ensure that the air in your room retains moisture and doesn’t dry out your skin and lungs.
If you have a wood stove, then you might not need to buy a humidifier. You can just place a pot of water on top of the stove. The heat from the metal will help to vaporize the water and this will help to maintain a healthy level of humidity in the room.
In fact, if you own a woodstove, you should probably be doing this anyway. The heat from the fire has a tendency to suck the moisture out of the air and this can aggravate any conditions that you might have.
7. Hydrogen Peroxide Humidifying
Another thing that you can do to help you improve the moisture in your house (and in your lungs!) is to put some hydrogen peroxide in your humidifier – but only if you have an ultrasound, cool-mist humidifier!
Hydrogen peroxide, a well-known home medicine, is great for helping to fight infections. Hydrogen peroxide also helps to thin mucus. Leaving the humidifier on around the clock helps to ensure that you get the most out of this remedy.
8. Chili Peppers
Chili peppers of all sorts are one of the most effective ways to help fight bronchitis, and one of the only remedies on this list that I make sure to keep year-round – not for their delicious flavor, but because they can give the boot to just about any respiratory infection that strikes a person down in the colder seasons.
Spicy food contains a compound known as capsaicin. You might have noticed when you eat something spicy (or if you see a chili head chowing down on something hot) that their nose starts running. This is because capsaicin can immediately and effectively help to thin out mucus.
If you eat something really hot, then you’ll be coughing out anything that’s been stuck in your lungs right away. Chili peppers can be found in many grocery stores and health food stores. It’s good to start out with something more mild, like cayenne pepper.
Mullein is one of the best herbs that a person can consume when they’re suffering from a respiratory problem. It’s a folk medicine that has been used for many hundreds of years, and it contains a number of saponins. These compounds are known for helping to get rid of excess phlegm as well as to provide comfort to any sore membranes – like the ones in your lungs that hurt from coughing all day.
You can take mullein in a few ways. One of the best ways is to make it into a tea by steeping a couple teaspoons of the leaves in a cup of hot water. You can also add mullein leaves into a steam bath and inhale the vapors. Bonus points if you drink the remaining steam water afterwards, since it will have become a tea.
Mullein can be found in many health food stores and in some pharmacies. However, in pharmacies it’s often only available in capsule form. The dried leaf is much more effective.
Garlic is another one of the remedies that I make sure to keep on hand, not just because I enjoy the flavor and the aroma but because it’s essential for my personal recipe when I have bronchitis or any other infection.
Garlic contains a compound known as allicin. Allicin is known for being a potent antimicrobial agent that can be useful for fighting off viruses and bacteria, like those that can cause bronchitis. Not only that, but it’s a great plant for helping to loosen up the airways in the lungs and help to expel any extra mucus that might have build up.
Allicin becomes more potent if it’s exposed to oxygen. A simple way to do this is to chop up your garlic and let it sit for a few minutes before using it. Eating it raw is one of the best ways to absorb its benefits, but don’t do this too often or on an empty stomach or it will be uncomfortable.
Garlic can be found at any natural health food store or any grocery store. Obviously organic varieties are better.
Ginger is another food that’s incredibly useful for helping to maintain immunity and fight off bacteria. I like to include ginger in my bronchitis-fighting regime because it helps to loosen up the airways and can make the body feel a lot stronger when you’re suffering from an infection.
Organic ginger can be found at health food stores and some grocery stores. Some of the best ginger I’ve ever had was imported from areas like Brazil and Peru. The more pungent the ginger, the stronger the medicinal properties will be.
12. Ginger + Garlic
There is a reason to combine these two medicines aside from the fact that they are both powerful on their own.
This reason is because ginger actually nullifies the discomfort of the garlic. You know how ginger can be useful for treating nausea? This is because it has somewhat of a painkilling effect. But this painkilling effect isn’t just effective for nausea, it can work all over the body.
Why is this important? Well, first you should know a bit about sublingual absorption. When you hold a supplement or a drug under your tongue, the active compounds are usually absorbed into the mucus membranes under the tongue and in the cheeks.
This causes the compounds to be absorbed into your bloodstream immediately instead of having to be processed through your stomach. This often destroys some of the nutrients.
Doing this with garlic is the best way to get the allicin into your bloodstream. However, holding garlic under your tongue can be very uncomfortable because it’s a very pungent plant and it can cause a burning sensation. However, mixing garlic with ginger and holding them both in your mouth completely nullifies the pain.
I do this any time I feel a buildup of mucus in my lungs that I can’t get out. I’ll usually pop a half-clove of garlic and a fingernail-sized piece of ginger in my mouth, chew them up, and hold them under my tongue for about 10 minutes. By the end of that 10 minutes, I’m coughing out whatever’s held in my lungs.
Oregano oil is another essential ingredient in anyone’s cabinet if they’re hoping to be able to ward off infections. This is because oregano oil is, hands down, one of the best antibiotics on the planet. It’s great for treating any bacterial infections ranging from common colds to bronchitis.
Oregano oil contains carvacrol, which is known to help fight inflammation and help stop the growth of microbes. Taking a couple droppers of oregano oil a day will help to get rid of bronchitis.
Again, sublingual absorption (under the tongue) works best. However, oregano oil burns quite a bit when held too long. I have not tried this myself, but I imagine using ginger would also help to nullify the pain of oregano oil.
One note of caution is to make sure that you take a probiotic supplement after using oregano oil. It is very strong and does not discern between the good bacteria in your gut and the bad bacteria causing an illness. You’ll need to replenish your gut flora by eating fermented foods or taking probiotic supplements.
Oregano oil can be found at health food stores and pharmacies.
14. Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract is another interesting supplement that you can use to help viral infections. It might not be as incredibly powerful as oregano oil, but some might be okay with this.
One cool thing about olive leaf extract is that it’s selective. That means that it inhibits the growth of viruses while doing minimal damage to the body’s own bacterial flora.
Not only will it help to fight the bacteria causing your infection but it will also help to bolster your immune system, fight any inflammation related to the infection (or anything else) and help improve your energy levels.
You can find olive leaf extract in health food stores and in good pharmacies.
Onions are another antibiotic that you should keep in your kitchen at all times in case you get an infection.
Onions are actually such a powerful medicine that practitioners of Ayurveda don’t recommend eating them often, unless you’re hoping to treat a specific illness. They can be dangerous to the body’s intestinal flora and they stimulate the mind and lungs.
If you’re sick, however, this can be a great thing. Onions will help to kill the bacteria that can cause your infection. On the bonus side, they’re cheap and can be found in any grocery store.
Honey is well-known for being a powerful antimicrobial agent, and it can help you overcome symptoms of bronchitis by fighting the infection at its source.
Not only is honey good for fighting infections, but it can be useful for helping to soothe some of the symptoms associated with respiratory problems. You’ve probably experienced some degree of a sore throat when suffering from bronchitis, and honey is well-known for being a remedy to soothe sore throats.
It’s best to get a type of honey that’s high in nutrients and antioxidants, like manuka honey. Processed, white honey usually has most of the nutrients sapped out of it.
17. Onion + Honey
Onion and honey – affectionately referred to by me as honion – is a great combination for anyone hoping to fight bronchitis.
Why would these two seemingly disparate herbs go so well together? Well, that’s because onions are most potent when they are raw. Not everyone can handle the flavor of a raw onion (though I personally love chomping on them like apples when I’m sick, and if that floats your boat, then go for it).
For those who can’t enjoy the intense pungent flavor, though, you can chop or blend some raw onion together and consume it. Bonus points if you mix in some ginger lor cayenne pepper. If you can handle holding the mixture in your mouth for a while, feel free.
18. Honey and Cinnamon
If you’re not fond of the idea of mixing honey with onions, then you can find some benefit by the much more palatable mixture of honey and cinnamon.
In addition to the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and beneficial enzymes present in the honey, the cinnamon can help your body fight the symptoms of bronchitis by getting rid of inflammation in the lungs. Cinnamon is actually useful for helping to treat allergies and the related respiratory symptoms.
Cinnamon can be found in powdered form anywhere that spices are sold, like a grocery store. Whole cinnamon sticks can also be purchased and powdered yourself in a blender or with a mortar and pestle.
Thyme is one of the best herbal remedies for bronchitis. Research has revealed that people who were using thyme and primrose while suffering from bronchitis experienced a significant reduction in their cough and the amount of mucus that they were producing.
You can find thyme tinctures and supplements at pharmacies, but why not just make the medicine yourself? It will be more nutritionally beneficial if you make your own thyme tea by adding the fresh leaf, found in a grocery store, or the dried spice to a cup of boiling water. Use a couple of teaspoons to experience improvement to your symptoms.
Echinacea, a powerful herb that grows all around North America, is one of the most powerful herbal remedies for a variety of different infections. It has been used for centuries to fight colds, flus, and other problems that affect the upper respiratory tract.
Much research has been done on echinacea, and different antiviral compounds have been identified in the plant. You can find echinacea in supplement form in health food stores and pharmacies, and you can also make your own tea or poultice by making tea from loose echinacea purchased at a health food store.
In addition to having a name that’s a lot of fun to say, astragalus is known for being a powerful immune booster. The herb has been used for many centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine because it’s able to help fight infections in the lungs and improve their function.
Astragalus also fights inflammation. Good health food stores will carry astragalus in its loose form, and you can find supplements and tinctures in many pharmacies.
There are several different forms of ginseng. However, each different form is quite similar. They are all roots and they all possess impressive benefits in regard to the immune system. Ginseng is so powerful that it’s become popular in mainstream health for its ability to help fight off illness.
In addition to boosting the immune system and helping it give the boot to infections, ginseng can restore energy and fight inflammation. These two traits make it immensely useful for anyone who is currently battling an infection, particularly if you can’t get time off work.
The two most common forms of ginseng are Siberian ginseng and Panax ginseng, both of which can be found in most health food stores in the form of supplements, capsules, or whole powder. If you can find whole ginseng roots, these will be even more beneficial.
Glutathione is a compound that’s produced by our body. It helps us fight off infections and illnesses.
Unfortunately, not everyone is able to produce the optimal amount of glutathione. For these people, taking a supplement containing glutathione can help enhance their body’s ability to fight infections.
Glutathione supplements can be found in most pharmacies and in some health food stores.
24. N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
Despite having a bit of an intimidating name, N-Acetyl Cysteine or NAC is a good compound to keep around in case of an upper respiratory infection. NAC is really just an amino acid derivative, but it’s been shown to have impressive benefits in helping to fight bronchitis.
One thing that NAC does is help the body produce more glutathione, and that’s one of the reasons that it’s great for helping to ward off illness. It can also be useful for helping improve cognitive function and fight off brain fog, which can affect people who are lethargic from fighting off an infection.
Some pharmacies carry NAC, but you are more likely to find it in a supplement shop or a bodybuilding shop. You can also find it easily online.
Menthol is the active compound found in peppermint.
It has a number of useful applications in regards to bronchitis. The essential oil of peppermint can simply be inhaled to help soothe the symptoms of bronchitis. It can be placed in an essential oil diffuser or used in a steam bath.
Many companies also make topical menthol lotions, some mixed with eucalyptus oil. These can be applied directly to the chest. Menthol will help to soothe the area and provide pain relief. If there is eucalyptus oil in the product then this will help to loosen up phlegm.
These salves and lotions can be found in some pharmacies but more often in health food shops.
26. Rose Hips
Rose hips have been used in areas of Europe for many centuries to help fight coughs and infections. These wonderful little herbal remedies are loaded with vitamin C and certain bioflavonoids that help to loosen up any mucus stuck in the lungs.
Rose hips can be picked from – you guessed it – rose bushes, but if they are not in season then you can find rose hips in the form of supplements from most health food shops and in some pharmacies.
Cranberry juices and extracts have been proven to help fight viral infections. This is party because of their incredibly high vitamin C content, but also because of its useful array of antioxidants and nutrients.
Cranberries actually make it more difficult for a virus to stick to a cell and cause problems. For this reason, it’s great to consume cranberry juice in the earliest stages of an infection. If everyone around you starts getting sick, you will probably want to start drinking lots of cranberry juice just to prevent yourself from getting sick.
Cranberry juice can be found at many grocery stores. However, most brands include a lot of added sugar which can just cause inflammation and make infections worse. Look for organic cranberry juice from health food stores or just juice your own cranberries.
28. Concord Grapes
Concord grapes have been suggested to have similar virus fighting properties as cranberries.
You can mix concord grape juice with cranberry juice or with many of the other ingredients found on this list to make a tasty concoction that will help fight your bronchitis. Again, look for all-natural organic grape juice that doesn’t have added sugar.
29. Green Tea
Green tea is loaded with nutrients. There’s a reason that people who live in areas where everyone drinks lots of green tea tend to live longer. The beverage is packed with bioflavonoids, antioxidants and nutrients.
These compounds work together to help enhance the virus and bacteria-fighting properties of the mucus layer in our lungs. If you don’t like the flavor of green tea, you can mix it with some grape juice or another flavorful and nutritious beverage.
Green tea can be found at many grocery stores, but try to find organic varieties as these will contain more nutrients.
30. Purse Your Lips
This might look (or feel) a little bit funny, but some people report experiencing an improvement to their condition by practicing what’s known as pursed-lips breathing.
If you purse your lips and inhale through the small opening, you will actually keep your airways open for longer. This helps your lungs to expel old air which can be difficult to do when the airways are inflamed or constricted.
This makes it easier to breathe overall, and can help you improve the amount of oxygen available to your body. It can be very useful if you’re not able to get time off work or if you have things to accomplish while you’re sick.
31. Gargle Salt Water
Gargling salt water can help you improve your conditions in a number of ways.
First off, swishing a saline (salt-water) solution can help you get rid of any excess mucus that has been build up in your mouth or in your throat when you’re sick.
Contrary to popular belief, salt water isn’t actually antimicrobial. It won’t kill whatever is causing the infection. However, it can certainly make you feel better. Studies have also shown that gargling salt water on a regular basis can help to ward off infections, though it may not actually help to kill them.
You can make your own saline solution by mixing Himalayan mountain salt or another nutritious form of salt into hot water. Healthy salts can be found at natural food stores.
32. Vitamin D
If you live in an area where you don’t get a lot of sunlight – or if you just don’t like going outside too often – then you might want to consider loading up on vitamin D. Food like sardines are very high in vitamin D, but you can also just find supplements in health food stores and pharmacies.
Studies have revealed that people deficient in vitamin D are more likely to get upper respiratory infections. Not only that, but their symptoms are often more intense and the problem can stick around for much longer.
33. Stop Smoking
If there’s one thing that I appreciate about bronchitis, it’s the fact that it helped me stop smoking.
I smoked when I first began getting bronchitis. I thought it was normal for bronchitis to last more than a month.
However, one time I got bronchitis that was so severe I couldn’t smoke. But it only lasted a week or so. Symptoms were going away until I started smoking again, and I finally recognized how intense the correlation between smoking and bronchitis is.
Basically, if you smoke a lot, bronchitis will stick around for a lot longer. I’ve experienced, multiple times, a reduction in some symptoms like fatigue and lethargy, but continued experiencing a tight chest, thick mucus, and a persistent cough for up to two months after contracting bronchitis. This only happened when I continued to smoke.
I can assure you, stopping smoking is the best way for a smoker to get over their bronchitis faster.
Bronchitis is a very unpleasant condition that can occur on a fairly regular basis.
Fortunately, bronchitis is also one of the easiest conditions to manage with herbal medicine. Using the above remedies and applying a bit of wisdom has helped me reduce my twice-yearly bout of intense bronchitis into a bit of chest tightness for a day or two.
Hopefully these remedies can help you overcome your bronchitis!
Nigel enjoys sharing wisdom regarding nutrition and health when he’s not playing music, loving nature, and being at one with the world.