Home Remedies for Bronchitis

Bronchitis is an inflammation or swelling of the lining of the bronchial tubes, otherwise known as the bronchi.

The bronchi are the passages that connect the lungs to the mouth and nose. But what home remedies are best to treat bronchitis?

People with bronchitis experience breathing difficulties caused by a reduced capacity to carry air through the bronchi into the lungs. They also tend to have mucus or phlegm in their airways.

Several treatments, including many home remedies, are available to treat bronchitis and its symptoms. This article looks at how effective these treatments may be so that people with bronchitis can make an informed decision about how to treat it.

Drinking warm liquids

Warm water, tea, and other hot drinks help to thin mucus, making coughing easier.

A 2008 study suggests that hot beverages can provide “immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of a runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness, and tiredness”.

Ginger tea may also help bronchitis symptoms, as ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory.

Using a humidifier

Keeping the air in the home or workplace moist helps to loosen mucus in the airways and reduce coughing. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend a cool-mist humidifier or steam vaporizer to do this.

A 2014 study indicates that long-term humidification therapy is a cost-effective treatment for people with the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchiectasis. However, researchers cautioned that more investigation was necessary.

COPD is an umbrella term for a number of lung conditions including bronchitis and bronchiectasis, which is a condition where the airways become abnormally wide.

If a person with one of these conditions uses a humidifier, it should be regularly cleaned, according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, to kill bacteria and other pathogens that make symptoms worse.

Wearing a face mask in cold weather

Being hit by sudden cold air can increase a cough. Covering up the mouth and nose before going outside in cold weather can help to reduce coughing and shortness of breath. Cold-air face masks are available, or the mouth can be covered with a scarf or other item of clothing.

Honey

Honey is often used as a natural remedy for a cough, and it is said to have both antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Research into the effectiveness of honey for respiratory tract infections indicates it may be an effective home treatment.

A 2007 study looked at how well dark honey worked for children with bronchitis. While the children who took the honey experienced greater symptom relief than those taking the placebo, the clinical benefit was small. Honey should not be given to children under 1 year.

Pursed-lip breathing techniques

A breathing technique known as pursed-lip breathing may benefit people with bronchitis, as well as those with COPD.

The COPD Foundation advise that this technique helps people breathe easier by:

  • keeping airways open longer
  • slowing down breathing
  • helping the lungs eliminate stale, trapped air
  • improving the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide
  • increasing the time that can be spent on certain activities

Pursed-lip breathing involves inhaling through the nose for 2 seconds, before puckering the lips and exhaling slowly through the mouth for 4 to 6 seconds.

Essential oils

Eucalyptus oil
Essential oils such as eucalyptus may help to reduce airway inflammation.

Many people with bronchitis or COPD use essential oils to ease symptoms, particularly inflammation and breathing difficulties.

Some research suggests airway inflammation can be reduced by using myrtol, eucalyptus oil, or orange oil, with myrtol oil showing additional benefits against inflammation.

An animal study also found that oil from the flower Zataria multiflora reduced inflammation in guinea pigs with COPD.

Other essential oils which may help ease the breathing difficulties associated with bronchitis include:

  • basil
  • eucalyptus
  • peppermint
  • rosemary
  • tea tree
  • thyme
  • oregano

Essential oils can be inhaled directly or used in a diffuser. Never take essential oils internally or apply them directly to the skin. To use on the skin, mix them with a carrier oil, such as mineral oil or sweet almond oil. Usually, it is 3-5 drops per 1 ounce of carrier oil.

Ginseng extract

Ginseng is a popular herbal remedy extracted from the fleshy roots of various slow-growing perennial plants.

In some research, ginseng extract was found to reduce the number of bacteria in the lungs of people with chronic bronchitis, who were having an attack of acute bronchitis.

Ginseng also has anti-inflammatory qualities, which may help it quell inflammation in the bronchial tubes.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

This supplement is a modified version of the amino acid cysteine. It may help to reduce both the frequency and severity of coughing. NAC may also thin the mucus in the bronchi, allowing it to be eliminated from the body more easily.

An analysis of 13 studies on NAC for chronic bronchitis or COPD suggests that people with chronic bronchitis and an airway obstruction benefit from 1,200 milligrams (mg) per day. Those with bronchitis without an airway obstruction see benefits from a regular dose of 600 mg daily.

Vitamin D

According to the Vitamin D Council, many studies indicate that people who have low levels of the vitamin are more prone to respiratory infections, including COPD.

Other research suggests that those who have high vitamin D levels experience shorter bouts of respiratory infections or milder symptoms.

However, the evidence is mixed when it comes to taking vitamin D to treat respiratory infections. Nonetheless, vitamin D is important for overall health and supplementation is a low-risk approach to bronchitis treatment.

If you choose to use supplements, essential oils, or herbs, be aware that these are not monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety, quality, purity, or packaging. Choose to buy from a company you trust.

Types of bronchitis

There are two types of bronchitis known as acute and chronic.

Acute bronchitis, or a chest cold, is a common condition which can develop from a cold or respiratory infection. People tend to recover from acute bronchitis within 10 to 14 days.

Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a constant irritation of the bronchi that lasts 3 months or more, or recurrent episodes of bronchitis for at least 2 years. In 2015, 9 million Americans were diagnosed with chronic bronchitis.

Symptoms of chronic bronchitis may worsen periodically, which indicates acute bronchitis in conjunction with the chronic condition.

Causes of bronchitis

The causes of bronchitis vary depending on the type.

Acute bronchitis is most commonly caused by a virus, particularly those that cause cold and flu. Viruses do not respond to antibiotic treatment, and so antibiotics should not be prescribed to someone who has acute bronchitis caused by a virus.

Smoking is the most common cause of chronic bronchitis, although air pollution or dust can be a factor in some cases.

Risk factors

A very large percentage of people who develop bronchitis have a history of smoking.

Several risk factors are linked with the onset of bronchitis, including:

  • Poor immunity: People with lowered immunity are more vulnerable to bronchitis. Factors which reduce immunity include illness, viral infection, and age. Older adults and young children are at greater risk.
  • Smoking: Cigarette smoke can irritate the lining of the bronchial tubes, which can result in bronchitis. More than 90 percent of people diagnosed with chronic bronchitis have a history of smoking. However, even passive smoke can be a risk factor. A 2012 study found that exposure to passive smoking at work almost doubled the risk of chronic bronchitis, while passive smoking at home increased the risk by 2.5 times.
  • Other irritants: Continued exposure to grains, chemicals, dust, and fabric is known to cause irritation to the delicate lining of the bronchi.
  • Heartburn: The acid that rises due to heartburn causes inflammation in the bronchial tubes.

Symptoms of bronchitis

The most common symptoms of bronchitis are:

  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • mucus exhaustion
  • generalized discomfort in the chest
  • low-grade fever
  • chills

People with acute bronchitis may also have had other symptoms consistent with cold or flu that contributed to the development of bronchitis. Examples of such symptoms include:

  • headache
  • runny nose
  • sore throat

Complications

Approximately 1 in 20 cases of bronchitis result in pneumonia. In addition, repeated episodes of bronchitis can indicate COPD.

Preventing Bronchitis

There are several steps to take to reduce the risk of developing acute or chronic bronchitis:

  • Avoid irritants: If contact with lung irritants is unavoidable, take steps to reduce exposure. For example, increase ventilation or wear a mask.
  • Quit smoking: Cutting out tobacco and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke will help.
  • Improve immunity: Addressing underlying health conditions, eating a balanced diet, working out, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep all help.
  • Limit exposure to bacteria and viruses where possible: Do this by washing hands frequently.
  • Discuss vaccinations with a doctor: These may reduce the risk of bronchitis.

When to see a doctor

It is important to consult a doctor if symptoms of bronchitis endure beyond 3 weeks, are accompanied by a fever, or interfere with sleep.

Seek immediate medical attention if breathing difficulties become severe, or coughing produces blood.

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Lung Cleansing and Respiratory Support ~ The 9 Best Herbs

Your respiratory system is constantly working. All day, every day, it is the vehicle for oxygen to enter your body. Unfortunately, it can also be an entry point for pollutants, irritants, dust, mold, fungus, harmful organisms, and other toxins. Unless you’re living in a bubble, the constant assault from impurities can take its toll. Fortunately, whether you’re experiencing the negative effects of inhaling toxins, or simply want to ensure your lungs are always at peak performance, nature has provided a number of herbs and botanicals that provide deep nutrition for the respiratory system.

How are Herbs Beneficial for the Respiratory System?

Herbs that support lung health typically do so by offering one or more of the following benefits:

  • They may be an expectorant — which helps break up and expel chest congestion.
  • Soothe irritated nasal passages and airways.
  • Relax the muscles near the upper respiratory system to quell a cough.
  • Calm the release of histamines.
  • Fight the harmful organisms that can produce upper respiratory problems.
  • They may be a source of antioxidants and reduce oxidative damage and redness.

Let’s take a look at the nine best herbs for respiratory health.

1. Eucalyptus

Native to Australia, eucalyptus isn’t just for Koala bears! Aborigines, Germans, and Americans have all used the refreshing aroma of eucalyptus to promote respiratory health and soothe throat irritation. Eucalyptus is a common ingredient in cough lozenges and syrups and its effectiveness is due to a compound called cineole. Cineole has numerous benefits — it’s an expectorant, can ease a cough, fights congestion, and soothes irritated sinus passages. As an added bonus, because eucalyptus contains antioxidants, it supports the immune system during a cold or other illness.

2. Lungwort

Lungwort is a flowering rhizomatous that actually resembles lung tissue in appearance. However, this natural remedy doesn’t just look the part. As early as the 1600’s, lungwort has been used to promote lung and respiratory health and clear congestion. Lungwort also contains compounds that are powerfully effective against harmful organisms that affect respiratory health.

3. Oregano

Although oregano contains the vitamins and nutrients required by the immune system, its primary benefits are owed to its carvacrol and rosmarinic acid content. Both compounds are natural decongestants and histamine reducers that have direct, positive benefits on the respiratory tract and nasal passage airflow. Oregano has so many health benefits that a bottle of organic oregano oil should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet.

4. Plantain Leaf

The plantain leaf has been used for hundreds of years to ease a cough and soothe irritated mucous membranes. Clinical trials have found it favorable against a cough, cold, and lung irritation. Plantain leaf has an added bonus in that it may help relieve a dry cough by spawning mucus production in the lungs. Good stuff!

5. Elecampane

The Greeks, Romans, Chinese and even Indian Ayurvedic medicine have cited elecampane for respiratory support and, since the 1800’s, lozenges and cough drops have been produced from elecampane root. The reason? Elecampane has a relaxing effect on smooth tracheal muscles. There are two active compounds in elecampane root that provide the beneficial effect — inulin, which soothes bronchial passage, and alantolactone, an expectorant with antitussive action.

6. Lobelia

Did you know that horses given lobelia are able to breath more deeply? Its benefits are not limited to equestrians. Lobelia, by some accounts, is thought to be one of the most valuable herbal remedies in existence. Lobelia contains an alkaloid known as lobeline, which thins mucus, breaks up congestion. Additionally, lobelia stimulates the adrenal glands to release epinephrine, in effect, this relaxes the airways and allows for easier breathing. Also, because lobelia helps to relax smooth muscles, it is included in a many cough and cold remedies. Lobelia should be part of everyone’s respiratory support protocol!

7. Chaparral

Chaparral, a plant native to the southwest, has been appreciated by the Native Americans for lung detoxification and respiratory support. Chaparral contains powerful antioxidants that resist irritation and NDGA which is known to fight histamine response. Chaparral is also a herb that fights harmful organisms. The benefits of chaparral are most available in a tincture extraction but chaparral tea may support respiratory problems by encouraging an expectorant action to clear airways of mucus.

8. Peppermint

Peppermint and peppermint oil contain menthol — a soothing ingredient known to relax the smooth muscles of the respiratory tract and promote free breathing. Paired with the antihistamine effect of peppermint, menthol is a fantastic decongestant. Many people use therapeutic chest balms and other inhalants that contain menthol to help break up congestion. Additionally, peppermint is an antioxidant and fights harmful organisms.

9. Osha Root

Osha is a herb native to the Rocky Mountain area and has historically been used by the Native Americans for respiratory support. The roots of the plant contain camphor and other compounds which make it one of the best lung-support herbs in America. One of the main benefits of Osha root is that it helps increase circulation to the lungs, which makes it easier to take deep breaths. Also… when seasonal sensitivities flare up your sinuses, Osha root, which is not an actual antihistamine, does produce a similar effect and may help calm respiratory irritation.

Supplementing with Lung Support Herbs

All of the above herbs are available, in various forms, as nutritional supplements, and in tea blends. Additionally, many people grow herbs in their garden and simply consume them as food. That’s not a bad idea! If you grow them yourself, you can rest easy knowing the source is a good one. If not, it can be difficult to know if nutritional supplements use herbs that are organic, contain pesticides, ethically harvested, given clean water, etc. These are not factors for which you can or simply should assume the best – ask questions and verify that you’re getting the best product possible. To make it easy, I recommend Allertrex®, which contains all the herbs listed above except for oregano and Osha root – organic and wildcrafted – as well as lovage, bee balm, orange peel, menthol crystals, and nascent iodine.

 

Can Essential Oils Help Treat ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a brain disorder that involves inattention, hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, or all three.

The individual may find it hard to remain focused, and they may face challenges with organizational skills. They may find it hard to remember or to follow instructions, and this can lead to seemingly careless mistakes at work or school.

With attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the symptoms are chronic so they can last for a long time. They may be severe enough to interrupt daily functioning, learning ability, social habits, and even relationships.

This article takes a look at whether essential oils can be used as a form of treatment for people with ADHD.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils
Essential oils are natural oils from plants that are obtained by cold press extraction or distillation.

Essential oils are concentrated forms of compounds found in various plants. They are normally made through either cold press extraction or distillation.

In cold press extraction, a large amount of plant material is pressed using great pressure, until the natural compounds are released.

Distillation involves placing plant matter in a closed container and passing steam or water through it to extract the compounds from the plants. When the excess water is removed, the concentrated compounds that remain are called essential oils.

Essential oils aim to contain the highest possible concentration of beneficial compounds.

Many of these compounds are being used or studied for their potential in medicine.

Can essential oils help with ADHD?

Small studies and anecdotal evidence have suggested that some essential oils may benefit people with ADHD.

There is no evidence to suggest that essential oils can be harmful to people with ADHD. A healthcare provider may help a patient to experiment with some oils to see if they relieve symptoms.

Lavender essential oil

A person who is experiencing hyperactivity with ADHD may have trouble feeling relaxed enough to fall, or stay, asleep.

A recent study carried out at the University of Minnesota found that lavender essential oil may improve sleep.

The researchers studied the effectiveness of inhaling lavender essential oil for people with sleep issues.

Results indicated that those participants who inhaled lavender essential oil had a better quality of sleep than those who did not.

The use of inhaled lavender oil appeared to boost the well-being of the users over time.

Vetiver essential oil

If a person with ADHD is having difficulty staying focused, vetiver essential oil may help them to stay alerted and on task.

A study posted in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology has measured the direct effects that inhaling vetiver essential oil has on the brain.

Those who inhaled vetiver essential oil showed an increase in their attention levels, and this was reflected in measurements of brain activity.

The researchers noted that the effects of vetiver essential oil may be beneficial for learning and memory processes. It appears to have a stimulating effect even at low inhaled doses, and it may improve alertness and task performance.

Rosemary essential oil

essential_oil_of_rosemary1,8-cineole is one of the main compounds in rosemary oil. Studies may suggest that its use can increase cognitive performance.

The fresh scent of the common cooking ingredient rosemary may help to keep the mind sharp.

A study posted to Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology looked at the effects of one of the main compounds in rosemary essential oil, called 1,8-cineole.

The research showed that a higher concentration of this compound in the body resulted in better performance on cognitive tests.

The results were noted in both speed and accuracy. People with higher levels of the compound in their body described themselves as feeling more content.

More studies are necessary to confirm the findings.

Other essential oils

Other essential oils have been used by many people for many different symptoms of ADHD, with varying results.

Essential oils that may be useful include:

  • Frankincense
  • Ylang ylang
  • Bergamot
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemon
  • Cedarwood

One study reports that hospice patients who received a hand massage using oils containing bergamot, frankincense, and lavender, for example, felt relief from symptoms of depression, although the effect on the separate components was not studied.

Bergamot is thought to have antidepressant qualities, and a combination of clary sage and ylang-ylang may also lift the mood.

Cedarwood oil is said to have sedative effects, while some claim that both lemon and frankincense oils can improve focus.

However, there is not enough scientific evidence to confirm the benefits.

How to use essential oils

Essential oils are highly concentrated and should, therefore, be used with care. Before starting to use any essential oil, a physician can advise about any possible interactions with other medications.

Here are three appropriate ways to use essential oils:

  • Inhaling by adding a few drops to an aromatherapy diffuser
  • Applying diluted oils topically, to be absorbed through the skin
  • Putting a few drops into a full bath or a hand or foot bath

It is important to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before putting them on the body. Examples of carrier oils include olive, coconut, and grapeseed oil.

The high concentrations of compounds in the oils can cause reactions if applied undiluted anywhere on the body.

It is also important to perform an allergy test. This test can be carried out by applying a small amount of the diluted mixture to a small area of the body, like the back of the hand.

If any signs of allergy such as redness or burning sensations occur, do not use the oil.

Using essential oils for children

Since a child’s body and immune system are still developing, extra care is needed when using essential oils.

Children under 10 years of age are advised not to use essential oils containing 1,8-cineole, such as eucalyptus, rosemary, or peppermint.

The compound can cause reactions in young children and should, therefore, be avoided.

Making lifestyle changes to support ADHD

Women doing yoga
Steady lifestyle changes such as exercise, including yoga, may help to focus and balance the mind.

Many people also find relief from ADHD symptoms by making steady lifestyle changes.

For example, drinking herbal teas such as chamomile may promote a calm state of mind.

Likewise, a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids could lead to a decrease in ADHD symptoms.

Many people find relief from restlessness by exercising daily. Practices including meditation, yoga, and Tai chi may help to provide a more balanced state of mind.

Medical treatments for ADHD

Anyone who has been diagnosed with ADHD should discuss treatment options closely with a healthcare provider.

A physician will often prescribe stimulant drugs to treat ADHD. Stimulant drugs such as Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, Vyvanse, and Dexedrine have an effect on brain chemistry, which calms the patient’s mind. Nonstimulant drugs include Strattera.

There are side effects associated with most drugs used for ADHD.

It is important to work with a doctor in order to find the best treatment and to discuss any alternative treatment options with the physician.

Homemade Organic Pesticides

Ever wonder what farmers did hundreds of years ago to fight off crop pests? Long before the invention of harmful chemical pesticides (yes, the kind that is linked to cancerous cellular activity), farmers and householders came up with multiple remedies for removing insect infestations from their garden plants.

The following list will offer some of our favorite, all-natural, inexpensive, organic methods for making bug-busting pesticides for your home garden.

1. Neem

Ancient Indians highly revered neem oil as a powerful, all-natural plant for warding off pests. In fact, neem juice is the most powerful natural pesticide on the planet, holding over 50 natural insecticides. This extremely bitter tree leaf can be made in a spray form or can be bought from a number of reputable companies.

To make your own neem oil spray, simply add 1/2 an ounce of high-quality organic neem oil and ½ teaspoon of a mild organic liquid soap (I use Dr. Bronners Peppermint) to two quarts of warm water. Stir slowly. Add to a spray bottle and use immediately.

2. Salt Spray

For treating plants infested with spider mites, mix 2 tablespoons of Himalayan Crystal Salt into one gallon of warm water and spray on infected areas.

3. Mineral oil

Mix 10-30 ml of high-grade oil with one liter of water. Stir and add to spray bottle. This organic pesticide works well for dehydrating insects and their eggs.

4. Citrus Oil and/or Cayenne Pepper Mix

This is another great organic pesticide that works well on ants. Simply, mix 10 drops of citrus essential oil with one teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 cup of warm water. Shake well and spray in the affected areas.

5. Soap, Orange Citrus Oil & Water

To make this natural pesticide, simply mix 3 tablespoons of liquid Organic Castile soap with 1 ounce of Orange oil to one gallon of water. Shake well. This is an especially effective treatment against slugs and can be sprayed directly on ants and roaches.

6. Eucalyptus oil

A great natural pesticide for flies, bees, and wasps. Simply sprinkle a few drops of eucalyptus oil where the insects are found. They will all be gone before you know it.

7. Onion and Garlic Spray

Mince one organic clove of garlic and one medium sized organic onion. Add to a quart of water. Wait one hour and then add one teaspoon of cayenne pepper and one tablespoon of liquid soap to the mix. This organic spray will hold its potency for one week if stored in the refrigerator.

8. Chrysanthemum Flower Tea

These flowers hold a powerful plant chemical component called pyrethrum. This substance invades the nervous system of insects rendering them immobile. You can make your own spray by boiling 100 grams of dried flowers into 1 liter of water. Boil dried flowers in water for twenty minutes. Strain, cool and place in a spray bottle. Can be stored for up to two months. You can also add some organic neem oil to enhance the effectiveness.

9. Tobacco Spray

 

Just as tobacco is not good for humans, tobacco spray was once a commonly used pesticide for killing pests, caterpillars, and aphids. To make, simply take one cup of organic tobacco (preferably a brand that is organic and all-natural) and mix it in one gallon of water. Allow the mixture to set overnight. After 24-hours, the mix should have a light brown color. If it is very dark, add more water. This mix can be used on most plants, with the exception of those in the solanaceous family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.)

10. Chile pepper / Diatomaceous Earth

Grind two handfuls of dry chiles into a fine powder and mix with 1 cup of Diatomaceous earth. Add to 2 liters of water and let set overnight. Shake well before applying.

Natural Home Remedies for Sore Throat

Sore throats are one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor and they tend to affect children the most. A sore throat is usually considered a minor complaint until you have one and every swallow induces pain—pain that may seem unbearable. Unfortunately, the only option is to treat the symptoms and rest until you recover. Fortunately, there are many natural remedies that can soothe a sore throat and there’s a good chance you already have many of them in your home.

Common Sore Throat Causes

There are many potential causes of a sore throat, viruses are the most common. In fact, viruses account for about 95% of sore throats in both adults and children under the age of 5. Other common causes of a sore throat include:

  • Allergies
  • Dry air
  • Pollution
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to people with a sore throat
  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Strep throat (bacterial)
  • Tonsillitis
  • Weak immune system
  • Acid reflux

Common Sore Throat Symptoms

Isn’t a sore throat a symptom itself? Yes, but as you probably already know, not all sore throats are the same and some are more severe than others. You might have one that only makes your voice a little hoarse, or it might be a serious impediment to your ability to breathe comfortably. Some of the most common symptoms of a sore throat are:

  • Pain when swallowing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry and itchy throat
  • Swollen glands around the neck and throat
  • Hoarse voice

A sore throat is also a first symptom of the common cold and flu, but you might have other symptoms such as fever, runny nose, congestion, headache, abdominal pain, or vomiting. Consult your trusted healthcare provider if your sore throat lasts longer than one week.

Best Home Remedies for Sore Throat

1. Drink Warm Fluids

If you have a cold, make sure you’re taking in plenty of fluids. Nothing feels better than warm tea and thin soup when you’re sick. When your throat is raw and inflamed, drinking warm beverages keeps your throat moist and comfortable. Black tea might be the obvious choice, but give green or oolong tea a chance if Earl Grey just isn’t your, well, cup of tea.

2. Gargle Salt Water

For fast relief from sore throat pain, gargle 8 ounces of warm water with half a teaspoon of salt. You may have heard of this practice before and dismissed it as an old wives’ tale, but it does work and many people swear by it.

3. Use a Humidifier

If there’s anything that can make a sore throat even worse, it’s harsh, dry air. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air around you. In one study, using a humidifier reduced the severity of sore throat pain. If you’re experiencing other symptoms like upper respiratory congestion, try adding an essential oil like eucalyptus oil to the humidifier to loosen and help expel excess mucus.

4. Honey and Black Seed Oil

Honey may not be suitable for vegans, and it’s dangerous for children under the age of one. However, honey does offer many benefits. Add a teaspoon of honey to your tea, or take a spoonful by mouth to sooth your sore throat. As an added bonus, research indicates that honey significantly improves cough symptoms in children.

You can spike your honey with therapeutic spice by adding 2-3 drops of black cumin seed oil (also called black seed oil) to your honey. Like herbal teas, black cumin seed oil is an anti-inflammatory and can help soothe the pain.

5. Cold Food

Drinking or eating something cold soothes an irritated throat almost immediately. Instead of ice cream or ice pops, opt for whole fruit sorbet or make your own fruit pops to soothe the irritation.

6. Herbal Tea

Many varieties of herbal tea are effective at soothing a sore throat. Chamomile, lavender, echinacea, sage, ginger, peppermint, and licorice root tea all have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Peppermint, in particular, relieves upper respiratory congestion by improving lung function and the ability to breathe through your nose. If you need to add a little sweetener, stir a teaspoon of honey or elderberry into your herbal tea.

7. Essential Oils: Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Myrrh

Myrrh and eucalyptus are effective for soothing a sore throat but don’t take them as a tea. Instead, inhale the vapors by using a diffuser or humidifier. You can also gargle with myrrh like a mouthwash.

Apply one or two drops of lavender oil, specifically and exclusively from the Lavandula angustifolia species, to the back of your tongue or throat, to relieve the pain from a dry, scratchy throat. The taste isn’t overwhelming and the only side effect is fresh floral-smelling breath.

8. Spices: Cayenne, Turmeric, Ginger, and Clove

Cayenne might seem counterintuitive for a sore throat but, after the burn, it provides relief by numbing the pain. To make, add one tablespoon of cayenne pepper to a quarter cup of warm water. Mix in the cayenne completely, take a mouthful, tilt your head back, and gargle. If you can’t handle a lot of spice, this might not be the best solution.

Turmeric and ginger both have long histories as therapeutic plants. Drinking ginger juice alleviates sore throat pain. You can also make a tea with fresh ginger. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is very soothing. You can make a turmeric gargle to soothe a sore throat, just like cayenne, but without the sting.

Make a clove tea, clove calms inflammation and eases the discomfort associated with a sore throat.

9. Propolis

Research indicates that propolis offers multiple health benefits, especially for those suffering from an upper respiratory infection. If you’ve never heard of it, propolis is made of plant material, beeswax, and, well, bee saliva. It is useful against most types of harmful organisms, even the flu virus. Take it by adding 5 drops of propolis to a teaspoon of water.

10. Honey and Elderberry

Honey with elderberry is my favorite combination. Research suggests that elderberry reduces the severity of the common cold and flu symptoms and may shorten the duration of the illness. Add a little elderberry syrup to your honey and stir into your tea or simply take it by mouth. If you use fresh elderberries, make sure to cook them thoroughly; raw elderberries are not safe to eat.

How to Prevent a Sore Throat

The best strategy is to avoid catching a sore throat in the first place. Reduce your chances by washing your hands and limiting your exposure to sick people. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke, which may irritate your throat. Strengthen your immune system by eating cruciferous vegetables and carotenoid-rich tomatoes. For more tips, check out our How to Stay Healthy During the Winter article.

There are, of course, many types of lozenges, sprays, gargles, and, recently, pain strips but be careful with OTC medicine as it may have very real side effects. Conversely, most of the remedies described in this article do not have unpleasant side effects.

What are the Health Benefits of Eucalyptus?

Eucalyptus is a fast-growing evergreen tree that is native to Australia. As an ingredient in many over-the-counter products, it is used to reduce symptoms of coughs, colds, and congestion. It also features in creams and ointments aimed at relieving muscle and joint pain.

[eucalyptus leaves]
Eucalyptus leaves and essential oil are used in complementary medicine.

The oil that comes from the eucalyptus tree is used as an antiseptic, a perfume, as an ingredient in cosmetics, as a flavoring, in dental preparations, and in industrial solvents.

Chinese, Indian Ayurvedic, Greek, and other European styles of medicine have incorporated it into the treatment of a range of conditions.

Eucalyptus products

There are over 400 different species of eucalyptus. Eucalyptus globulus, also known as Blue Gum, is the main source of global eucalyptus oil production. The tree can grow up to 230 feet high. The leaves are long and narrow, and the bark is blue-gray in color.

Eucalyptus leaves are steam distilled to extract the oil from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree.

The oil is a colorless liquid with a strong, sweet, woody scent. It contains 70 percent to 85 percent 1,8-cineole, known as eucalyptol. It can supplement treatment for a wide range of medical conditions.

The leaves also contain flavonoids, volatile oils, and tannins. Flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants, and tannins may help to reduce inflammation.

Properties of eucalyptus

Eucalyptol is thought to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties.

In February 2016, researchers from Serbia found evidence supporting the antimicrobial action of eucalyptus.

They concluded that a positive interaction between E. camaldulensis essential oil and existing antibiotics could lead to the development of new treatment strategies for certain infections and that this could reduce the need for antibiotics.

A study published in Clinical Microbiology & Infection has suggested that eucalyptus oil may have antibacterial effects on pathogenic bacteria in the upper respiratory tract, including Haemophilus influenzae, responsible for a range of infections, and some strains of streptococcus.

Uses of eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is thought to have a number of medicinal properties, although not all of them have been confirmed by research.

Eucalyptus as a remedy for colds and respiratory problems

[vapor bath]
Eucalyptus leaves can be used in a vapor bath.

Eucalyptus features in a range of preparations to relieve symptoms of the common cold, for example, cough lozenges and inhalants.

Herbal remedies recommend using fresh leaves in a gargle to relieve a sore throat, sinusitis, and bronchitis.

Eucalyptus oil vapor appears to act as a decongestant when inhaled. It is a popular home remedy for colds and bronchitis.

It may act as an expectorant for loosening phlegm and easing congestion.

Researchers have called for further studies to clarify the possible therapeutic role of eucalyptus leaf extract in the treatment of respiratory tract infection.

Eucalyptus and dental care

The antibacterial and antimicrobial potential of eucalyptus has been harnessed for use in some mouthwash and dental preparations

In promoting dental health, eucalyptus appears to be active in fighting bacteria that cause tooth decay and periodontitis.

The use of eucalyptus extract in chewing gum may promote periodontal health, according to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology into the effect of chewing gum containing eucalyptus extract.

Other uses of eucalyptus

The University of Maryland Medical (UMM) Center describe how traditional Aboriginal medicines used eucalyptus to treat fungal infections and skin wounds. Eucalyptus tea was also administered to reduce fevers.

Fast facts about essential oil safety

  • Keep essential oils away from children and pets
  • Avoid prolonged use of a single essential oil
  • Do not use undiluted oil on the skin or near the eyes.
  • Check the safety information before using any oil.

Towards the end of the 19th century, eucalyptus oil was used in most hospitals in England to clean urinary catheters.

Eucalyptus is an effective insect repellent and insecticide. In 1948, the United States officially registered eucalyptus oil as an insecticide and miticide, for killing mites and ticks.

The Mayo Clinic recommend oil of lemon eucalyptus as one of the most effective insect repellants in the U.S. They suggest using it for keeping mosquitoes away.

In 2012, researchers from New Delhi, in India, found that E. globulus oil was active against the larvae and pupae of the housefly. They suggested that it could be a viable option for use in eco-friendly products to control houseflies.

Eucalyptus extract may act as a pain reliever, and research indicates that the oil may have analgesic properties. In a study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, scientists applied Eucalyptamint on the anterior forearm skin of 10 people.

Eucalyptamint, an over-the-counter preparation with the generic name methyl salicylate topical, is used to treat muscle and joint pain linked to strains and sprains, arthritis, bruising, and backache.

The scientists concluded that “Eucalyptamint, produced significant physiologic responses that may be beneficial for pain relief and/or useful to athletes as a passive form of warm-up.”

Other conditions that eucalyptus may help with include:

  • Arthritis
  • A blocked nose
  • Wounds and burns
  • Acne
  • Ulcers
  • Bladder diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Fever
  • Flu.

Eucalyptus oil may stimulate an immune system response, say findings published in BMC Immunology.

Precautions and side effects

According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), some essential oils can be hazardous, but those that are available commercially, from reputable sources, are safe to use if handled appropriately. It is important to use “pure, authentic and genuine essential oils.”

Eucalyptus products can generally be used safely on the skin, as long as the oil is diluted. It should not be applied directly to the skin if it is undiluted. It can be diluted with a carrier oil, such as olive oil. The dilution should be between 1 percent and 5 percent eucalyptus oil to between 95 percent and 99 percent carrier oil.

Eucalyptus can produce irritation and a burning sensation. It should not be used too close to the eyes.

It is not safe to take eucalyptus oil orally because it is poisonous.

Some people may be allergic to eucalyptus. In some individuals with asthma, eucalyptus can make their condition worse. Others find that it helps to relieve their asthma symptoms.

Side effects may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach upset.

Signs of eucalyptus poisoning include dizziness, feelings of suffocation and small pupils.

Eucalyptus may also interact with other medications, and it can impact the liver.

Children are more sensitive to essential oils, and care should be taken when using eucalyptus with children. Use should be avoided during pregnancy.

Can Essential Oils be Used for Treating Asthma?

Asthma is a long-term lung disease. The airways in the lungs become inflamed and swollen, causing the airways to tighten. This makes it difficult for air to pass through and for the person to breath.

According to The American Lung Association, nearly 26 million Americans have asthma, including more than 7 million children. It is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children.

There is no cure for asthma at present, but there are many treatment plans that can help people lead normal lives. Although there is a variety of asthma medicines on the market, some people prefer more natural treatment options.

Many people looking for a natural and more cost-effective treatment option have turned to essential oils. This article will look at the use of essential oils to treat asthma, along with other treatments for the condition.

What is asthma?

Asthma makes breathing difficult, which can lead to symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. This sequence of events is referred to as an asthma flare-up or an asthma attack.

It is not known what causes asthma, but some people are more at risk of developing the disease than others. It is not uncommon for asthma to run in families and for environmental factors to play a role.

Exposure to dust, chemicals, or irritants in the workplace can increase the risk for asthma. Damage from respiratory infections during infancy or early childhood as well as bad allergies can lead to asthma.

An asthma attack can happen at any time and anywhere. There are certain situations where people are more likely to have an asthma attack, however. These cause the following types of asthma:

  • Exercise-induced asthma
  • Occupational asthma
  • Allergy-induced asthma

Exposure to any type of irritant can cause allergies to flare up or simply irritate the respiratory system, triggering an asthma attack.

Natural essential oils for asthma

The therapeutic capabilities of essential oils are nothing new and may be helpful for some people with asthma. The following oils have some evidence to suggest a health benefit for people with asthma:

  • Peppermint: One of the common causes of asthma attacks is exposure to allergens that trigger the release of a compound called histamine. Peppermint can help to stop the release of histamine in the body. A substance called methanol is present in peppermint and can relieve stuffy or blocked noses, which can help people with asthma to breathe better.
  • Lavender: This essential oil is used for a variety of things. It has natural sedative and anti-inflammatory characteristics that may help people with asthma fight inflammation.
  • Eucalyptus: Research suggests that eucalyptus oil may have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Tea tree oil: This essential oil helps by reducing inflammation. In doing so, tea tree oil can help reduce the body’s allergic response.
  • Roman chamomile: Another essential oil with anti-inflammatory properties. It can also help part of the lungs called the bronchus to relax as well as relieve coughing.

Using essential oils

There are three common ways that people with asthma can use essential oils.

  • Aromatically: Some essential oils such as lavender and eucalyptus can bring relief through inhalation. Diffusing essential oils into the air could also help to purify the air and get rid of potential allergens.
  • Topically: Essential oils can be absorbed through the skin. People should be sure to research the oils properly as some must be mixed together to avoid skin irritation.
  • Internally: Some essential oils are available as supplements and can be taken internally. Not only are essential oils a natural way for people to treat asthma symptoms but they can also help patients avoid side effects from allergy shots or other medications.

Risks and considerations

People should always be careful when using essential oils. They may not be a good fit for every person with asthma. Some oils can give off a strong odor that can trigger asthma symptoms and attacks.

A bottle of eucalyptus oil with some leaves.
Essential oils can cause an asthma attack in people who are easily triggered by strong smells or chemicals.

Essential oils are not recommended for people with asthma who are very sensitive to smells and whose symptoms are easily triggered by them.

People should make sure that the fragrance does not cause a problem before using any essential oil. Some essential oils can also irritate the skin, so people should test a few drops on the skin first.

Oils should always be diluted because they can cause skin rashes when pure. Essential oils should not be given to children without a consulting a doctor. They can cause skin irritation, and some of them contain some strong ingredients that are not child-friendly.

Though some people with asthma have had success with essential oils, they are not a replacement for medical care. Research studies are being carried out, but there is no firm evidence that proves essential oils are a reliable treatment option.

Asthma patients should take any medicine prescribed by their doctor and go for regular checkups. If anyone experiences any asthma symptoms that do not seem to go away or get worse, they should see a doctor. There is no cure for asthma and, left untreated, it can be very dangerous.

Other treatments for asthma

To diagnose asthma, a medical doctor will perform a series of tests. They will carry out a complete physical exam and obtain the patient’s medical history. Other possible tests to diagnose asthma include:

  • Lung function tests
  • Allergy testing
  • Imaging tests

After a doctor diagnoses asthma, they will prescribe medication to help control the problem. There are several medicines commonly prescribed including:

  • Bronchodilators: These relax the muscles around the airways
  • Anti-inflammatories: Commonly referred to as corticosteroids or steroids, these reduce the swelling and mucus inside the airways
  • Antibiotics: These can treat attacks caused by bacterial infections

Some people have well-controlled asthma that does not cause many problems. Others may experience attacks that can be severe and even life-threatening. Asthma medicines do not cure asthma but they do help to improve symptoms. As a result, it is important to follow a doctor’s orders.

Though effective, some of these medicines can cause some unpleasant side effects and can be expensive.

Preventing asthma from getting worse

People cannot always prevent asthma but there are things they can do to keep it from getting worse. It is vital to follow a doctor’s prescribed treatment plan.

Essentials oils may be a helpful treatment but people should always consult a doctor before using them. They are not recommended for some patients such as pregnant women.

People should also stay up to date with influenza and pneumonia vaccinations. These illnesses can trigger attacks. Identifying and avoiding things that can possibly trigger asthma attacks is also important. These can include certain foods, pets, and chemicals.

Those with asthma who have been approved to use essential oils can use them to supplement their current treatment. They can be helpful in relieving some asthma symptoms but should be used with caution and extreme care.

People with asthma should always pay attention to their breathing to learn to recognize their asthma attack warning signs. If an attack comes on, they should be sure to treat it immediately. Asthma is dangerous and quick response and treatment could be the difference between life and death.