Herbal remedies can certainly assist in preventing a chest congestion from developing, or can be used to prevent it from hanging around too long.
When you are suffering from chest congestion, every breath is painful. Your chest is tight and wheezy, you are weak and tired and you cough persistently to dispel mucus and toxins blocking your airways. This mucus causes infection in the first place; having been produced as a result of a viral infection, the mucus becomes infected by bacteria.
To prevent a chest infection developing in the first place, take anti-microbial herbs such as thyme or decongestant herbs such as hyssop and coltsfoot. If an infection develops, herbal remedies can reduce the symptoms and help you recover more quickly. Herbs with anti-inflammatory action such as mullein help to soothe the irritated mucus membranes of the lungs and bronchial tract. As sleep is essential to the immune system's ability to combat infection, herbs to aid gentle sleep, including cowslip, can be beneficial.
Infusions and chest rubs can be helpful in fighting a chest infection, and for immediate relief try an inhalation.
After inhalation through the nose or mouth, air passes down the trachea, which then splits into two primary bronchi in order to allow the air to enter the right and left lungs. These branch into secondary bronchi, which in turn lead to finer bronchioles. Air finally reaches the alveoli; these are the tiny air sacs in the lung, where gases, including oxygen, are exchanged into the bloodstream. The surface area of the alveoli is actually forty times greater than that of the skin.
Learn which herbs are useful allies in preventing or fighting a chest infection, as well as how best to make use of them.
Thyme The infused leaves of this Mediterranean herb make a refreshing tea to treat chest infections. Thyme has potent anti-microbial activity that helps to fight bacterial and viral respiratory infections. A soothing syrup made with honey is also beneficial.
Liquorice Liquorice root is dried and powdered to prepare a tincture. Its expectorant and anti-inflammatory actions make it a soothing remedy for respiratory infections. The herb's general health-promoting action is helpful when convalescing from bacterial infections. The dried juice can be made into candy sticks which are popular with children.
Coltsfoot The flowers and large leaves can be harvested and dried. Coltsfoot as a decoction or herbal tobacco has treated chest infections and coughs for thousands of years. Its soothing properties are due to mucilages and anti-inflammatory polysaccharides.
Mullein A country remedy for bronchitis and emphysema, mullein is a tonic for the whole respiratory tract. Its expectorant and soothing actions on the lungs' membranes make it a popular remedy. Mullein's fleshy leaves are harvested in their first year.
Cowslip A decoction of cowslip root sweetened with honey is taken to cleanse the lungs of phlegm. It is effective for treating chronic bronchial infection and its sedative properties and sleep.
Hyssop The flowers of this shrub are harvested in summer to produce infusions and tinctures. Valued since ancient times for treating tuberculosis and pleurisy, hyssop reduces fever, eases lung congestion, loosens mucus and builds resistance.
Elecampane Use an infusion of the root of elecampane to make a soothing syrup. Elecampane is a warming tonic for chest infections. Safe for use with children and the elderly, its expectorant action relieves the bronchial tubes and fights bacterial infection. Its tonic action restores health to the respiratory system.
Maidenhair fern The delicate fronds of this fern are collection from their most shady habitats to prepare a tincture. Maidenhair fern is particularly effective if you want to shift a stubborn, chronic respiratory infection. It is also helpful for relieving coughs, asthma and sore throats. It is anti-spasmodic as well as expectorant.
A respiratory poultice of mustard seed can be made in a few minutes and requires simple ingredients. For this recipe you will need:
100g mustard seed
A little warm water
A small mixing bowl
A pestle and mortar
Two sheets of muslin.
Grind 100g of mustard seeds with a pestle and mortar until they have become a fine, even powder. Place the powder in a small mixing bowl.
Mix the mustard seed powder with a little warm water to make a thick paste. Add the water slowly so as not to miss the correct consistency.
Spread the mustard seed paste evenly between two thin sheets of muslin. This should be done while the paste is still warm.
Apply the poultice across your chest. Leave it in place for a couple of minutes, until the paste has cooled. Make sure to breathe deeply.
For relief that can last throughout the day or night, make a herbal chest rub containing herbs with healing and soothing properties that chase away an infection.