9 Plants And Herbs To Help Decongest And Open Your Lungs

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Written by: Angelique Johnson

Feeling under the weather? Having trouble getting that pesky mucus out of your lungs? Cough keeping you up at night?

Don’t reach for toxic cough medicine and nasal sprays – turn to nature instead!

According to the World Health Organization, respiratory tract diseases are diseases that affect the air passages of the body. This may include the nasal passages, the bronchi and the lungs. Some maladies can be temporary such as a cough, congestion, or bronchitis and some can be more chronic, such as asthma or COPD.

Most people turn to over-the-counter, man-made cough medications for relief, but according to Norman Edelman, MD, senior scientific advisor at the American Lung Association, this may not be the best idea.

“We’ve never had good evidence that cough suppressants and expectorants help with cough. But people are desperate to get some relief. They’re so convinced that they should work that they buy them anyway.”

So, what should you do if you’re experiencing difficulty breathing or are experiencing clogged up airways and a bad cough?

These 9 herbs and plants, provided by Mother Nature herself, should help you breathe easier the next time you’re sick!

1. Plantain Herb

Plantago lanceolata has been shown in research to help with upper respiratory infections, especially in children. A study published in the journal Phytomedicine even showed that compounds found in the plant (such as luteolin, acteoside and platamajoside) help to treat the inflammation of the pharynx and trachea.

2. Peppermint

This common herb contains menthol – a soothing compound that has been known to help open up the airways in times of illness. Studies have shown that menthol can effectively help reduce inflammation in the nasal mucosa, providing protecting from exposure to infections in the upper respiratory tract. Research has also concluded that peppermint oil can help relax the bronchial smooth muscle and increase the ventilation of the lungs.

3. Lungwort

In Bulgaria, this plant has been used for thousands of years to treat respiratory and inflammatory issues concerning the lungs. Also known as Boraginaceae (Pulmonaria officinalis), the spotted leaves of the plant have been shown to be high in flavonoids, a powerful property that has anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial benefits.

Lungwort is also rich in polyphenols, a compound commonly found in green tea, which has proven to help prevent lung cancer.

4, Mullein

Mullein, or Verbascum thapsus, is a flowering plant that is native to Europe, north Africa and Asia and has been introduced to the Americas and Australia. The great pharmacologist and botanist Pedanius Dioscorides first recommended the plant over 2000 years ago for use against pulmonary diseases. The leaves can be used to help expectorate mucus and relieve dry cough, bronchitis and sore throats.

Recent scientific research has also found that phytochemicals found in the mullein has antiangiogenic and antiproliferative activities which, like lungwort, help prevent lung cancer.

5. Eucalyptus

This leaf is not just for koala bears. Eucalyptus globulus is an evergreen tree that has become one of the most widely cultivated trees in Australia. Eucalyptus is commonly found in cough lozenges and other cough remedies as it contains a powerful property known as cineole, which is also found in rosemary. Cineol has been found in research to help reduce mucus in the body.

Eucalyptus was also found to provide significant and immediate improvement in symptoms of upper respiratory infections, according to a study published in Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine. The plant also has powerful antiviral activity.

6. Elecampane

Elecampane (Inula helenium), also called horse-heal, is a member of the sunflower family. It is native to Europe and Asia and has been naturalized in parts of North America. For centuries the plant has been used to help expel mucus out of the lungs and airways. Elecampane also has antimicrobial activity, helping to get rid of any airway infections.

7. Oregano

Oregano, known scientifically as Origanum vulgare lamiaceae, is a staple in most homes as it is used to help flavor your favorite soup or dish. But it’s benefits don’t just stop at it’s smell and taste. Oregano oil has been shown to help protect the lungs from oxidative stress, improve immunity and reduce inflammation of the airways.

8. Thyme

Thyme has been used for thousands of years for its culinary, medicinal and ornamental uses. In a study published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease, the leaves and extract were shown to contain antioxidant and antibacterial effects. The herb has also been widely used in Turkey for its beneficial effects on cold, influenza and cough.

To loosen tightness in the chest and lungs, one ounce of the pounded herb infused into a pint of water with honey has been recommended for heavy coughs.

9. Licorice Root

Licorice has been used since ancient Greek, Egyptian and Roman times. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is one of the most frequently used components for treating a variety of ailments. Licorice has been found to have powerful expectorant properties, which can help clear mucus out of the lungs.

Do you have any remedies for colds, mucus and chest congestion that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

Note: If you use herbal medicines, consult with your doctor before you start taking the herb, or let your physician and pharmacist know if you are already taking these products.

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Angelique Johnson

Angelique Johnson

Nutritionist at Nutrition by Angelique
Angelique Johnson is a nutritionist from Miami, FL. Through her own journey in weight loss, she discovered her love for health and nutrition and realized she wanted to help others achieve a healthier lifestyle. Angelique has been featured as a nutrition consult on CBS4 Miami News and is a published author on many online health sites. She is passionate about debunking diet rumors and showing her clients how to have a healthy, balanced relationship with food.
Angelique Johnson
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