Herbal Remedies for Bronchitis

It’s that time of year again – when temperatures drop, respiratory illnesses become more of a problem. One such illness, bronchitis, can be particularly debilitating. A potentially serious lung condition, bronchitis involves the inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, the tubes that carry air into and out of the lungs. This inflammation usually occurs as the result of a cold or other respiratory infection. Chronic bronchitis, a more severe condition, can occur as the result of smoking or prolonged exposure to chemical fumes and other irritants.

Individuals with bronchitis experience a number of uncomfortable symptoms including chest pain, shortness of breath (which usually worsens with exertion), wheezing, cough, extreme fatigue and excessive production of mucus. Although acute bronchitis normally improves after a few days, it does have lingering effects – the related cough can persist for weeks. And recurrences of acute bronchitis may indicate a chronic condition that requires medical attention.

Because bronchitis is most commonly caused by a viral infection, antibiotics are not usually prescribed. Treatment for bronchitis is generally focused on relieving symptoms and making it easier for the patient to breathe. As with many respiratory conditions, herbal remedies can provide relief from symptoms and help to prevent the recurrence of bronchitis. Following are a few of the most common plant-based remedies for bronchitis.

Eucalyptus, a powerful decongestant, is often used to soothe the throat, loosen congestion and make breathing easier. Tea tree oil may also be used for the same purpose. Tea tree oil is also a potent anti-viral, helping to fight the underlying infection and speed healing. These oils are usually added to hot water and the resulting vapor inhaled. Similarly, cayenne pepper may be used to help break up congestion and hasten the body’s recovery from bronchitis.

An effective anti-inflammatory as well as an anti-viral and immune booster, garlic may be used to help open bronchial passages, soothe inflammation, fight infection and prevent the recurrence of bronchitis.

Lemon tea, often mixed with honey, has long been recommended by doctors and herbalists alike as a treatment for sore throat and cough. For bronchitis sufferers, lemon helps to loosen phlegm and encourage drainage through the nasal passages. Ginger or garlic may be added to increase the tea’s potency.

Turmeric powder is often recommended as a treatment for bronchitis, usually administered with warm milk. Turmeric offers anti-inflammatory benefits, supports the body’s ability to heal, and can help to relieve the chest and throat pain often associated with bronchitis. Linseed (also commonly referred to as flax or flaxseed) is also commonly recommended for its anti-inflammatory properties.

To relieve the lingering cough often associated with bronchitis, bishop’s weed may be used in a steam treatment. Bishop’s weed also helps to open the bronchial passages, easing breathing.

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