Natural Remedies for Bronchitis
Inflammation of the tubes leading to the lungs is often marked by cough that produces thick mucus. This condition, called bronchitis, may occur after a viral (sometimes, bacterial) infection that affects the lungs, or it may develop after a long history of cigarette smoking that results in permanent lung damage.
Acute bronchitis is a common condition that often follows a cold or respiratory infection. It leads to a hacking cough that produces yellowish to green mucus. It may be accompanied by fever, sore throat, fatigue, wheezing, and a burning sensation in the chest. This condition may improve after a few days, but cough may persist for a few weeks.
Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is a long-term condition that is often associated with smoking. It may also occur in people who do not smoke, but are exposed to secondhand smoke, dust or air pollution. Symptoms include chronic cough with mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing, bluish lips and swelling of the ankles and feet. People who have chronic bronchitis may also experience acute episodes of bronchitis after a respiratory tract infection.
Medical treatments may include antibiotics to treat bacterial infection and medications to relieve cough and improve breathing. Oral steroids may also be prescribed to reduce airway inflammation. People who have chronic bronchitis may be advised to get vaccines to prevent flu and pneumonia to reduce their risk of experiencing flare ups.
Natural ways to prevent and manage bronchitis includes:
- Quitting smoking. Even if you have been smoking for many years, your body will experience some improvement once you quit smoking.
- Avoid irritants that harm the lungs. Wear a face mask to avoid air pollution and other industrial or household fumes and chemicals that can irritate the lungs. Avoid inhaling secondhand smoke.
- If you have bronchitis, you need an adequate amount of rest to help the body recover from fatigue due to chronic coughing.
- Take plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and help thin mucus.
- Use an air humidifier or practice steam inhalation from a bowl to make your mucus thinner and improve expectoration.
- If you are overweight or obese, try to lose excess weight to avoid excessive strain on your heart, which is common in people with bronchitis.
- Your doctor may recommend pulmonary rehabilitation, which involves doing exercises to improve your lung function.
- Wash your hands often and avoid crowds to prevent getting a viral infection, which could exacerbate your symptoms.
- Use aromatherapy. Run a humidifier with essential oils such as bergamot, cedarwoord, eucalyptus, myrrh, jasmine, lavender, sweet fennel, tea tree, and marjoram to help ease cough and thin mucus.
- Consult a professional homeopath for remedies to treat bronchitis in addition to your standard medical care. Remedies used in homeopathic care for bronchitis include Aconitum, Antimonium tartaricum, Bryonia, Hepar sulphuricum, Ipecacuanha, and phosphorus.
- Eat chicken soup, a traditional remedy for colds and respiratory disease. Chicken soup and warm liquids like broth or tea help soothe sore throat and congestion while loosening mucus from the airways.
- Take nutritional supplements under your doctor’s supervision.
Health Supplements for Bronchitis
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to obtain proper nutrition to support the immune system and improve body function. In addition, taking health supplements under a doctor’s guidance may help correct nutritional deficiencies and boost our defense system against lung diseases such as bronchitis.
- Probiotics (Lactobacillus). These are “good” bacteria, which are known to help prevent infection in the intestines. Preliminary evidence suggests that they may help prevent respiratory infections. Studies show that drinking milk with Lactobacilli helps people get fewer bouts and less severe colds.
- NAC (N-acetylecysteine, 400 – 1,200 mg/day), a modified dietary amino acid, has antioxidant properties that help relieve COPD symptoms by reducing oxidative stress in the lungs. It is also believed to help reduce the frequency of attacks of severe bronchitis.
- Herbal remedies for acute bronchitis include:
- Echinacea purpurea, which may help prevent respiratory tract infections like colds, which can trigger bronchitis.
- Andrographis paniculata, an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, which may help reduce cold symptoms and reduce one’s risk of bronchitis.
- Allium sativum (Garlic), which helps people get fewer colds and helps people recover from colds faster.
- Panax quinquefolius (Ginseng, 400 mg/day), which may help prevent colds, and reduce the frequency and severity of colds.
- Essential oil monoterpenes, which consists of eucalyptus, citrus oil, and pine extract, has been used for respiratory illnesses, such as bronchitis.
- Lobelia inflata, or Indian tobacco, which is used as a remedy for bronchitis and other respiratory problems. It is used as an expectorant, to help clear mucus from the lungs.
- Verbascum densiflorum (Mullein, 3 g/day), which is an expectorant, helps clear mucus in your lungs. It is also used to treat cough and respiratory illnesses with lung congestion.
- Mentha x piperita (Peppermint), which is widely used to relieve cold symptoms. Menthol, its main active ingredient, acts as a decongestant, thins mucus, and helps loosen phlegm.
This information should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.
University of Maryland Medical Center. Bronchitis. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/bronchitis
WebMD. Understanding Bronchitis. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-bronchitis-basics
Mayo Clinic. Bronchitis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bronchitis/basics/definition/con-20014956