Congestion in the Lungs: Natural Treatment Options

Congestion in the Lungs: Natural Treatment Options
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The Formation of Mucus

When there is an infection in the body mucus accumulates with the intention of trapping toxins and eliminating them from the body. An infection in the lower respiratory tract causes inflamed bronchial tubes, this leads to chest congestion as well as other symptoms including coughing, fatigue, difficulty breathing, and a fever. Helping to eliminate the mucus will help the body recover from the infection.

While a respiratory infection such as bronchitis can lead to more serious health problems, especially in individuals who already have a chronic respiratory illness, chest congestion can in many cases be treated at home with natural treatments. Acute bronchitis that results from an upper respiratory infection for example, tends to clear up on its own within weeks. For congestion in the lungs try natural treatment options such as aromatherapy, herbal therapy, and nutrition.

Steam and Essential Oils

One way to help break-up and encourage the release of mucus from the lungs is to use the combination of steam and essential oils. Warm steam helps to loosen mucus and also relieves many of the symptoms of bronchitis. Essential oils with expectorant properties are beneficial, acting to clear up congestion. The following oils can be used for eliminating mucus naturally:

Lavender is a wonderful complementary essential oil to be used as it helps to improve immune function and has anti-inflammatory properties.

To make a steam inhalation boil two quarts of clean water. Add to a large glass bowl and then add five to six drops of whichever essential oils you would like to use. Inhale for ten minutes to help relieve lung congestion. To help trap the steam place a towel over your head while inhaling over the bowl.

You can also take a bath for the same effect. Add six to seven drops of any expectorant essential oils to a cup of water and add to bath water. Soak for twenty minutes. Try sandalwood combined with lavender for an incredibly relaxing therapeutic bath. Use pine with eucalyptus for a more invigorating healing experience.


Another way to treat congestion in the lungs naturally is to drink herbal infusions. Again, it is not only the medicinal properties of the plant that you are using, but the simple therapy of heat and steam. Drinking hot liquids in itself is an effective way to help the body recover from a lung infection. The following herbs have expectorant properties.

  • Hyssop
  • Mullein
  • Licorice (do not use licorice if you have high blood pressure)
  • Cayenne

To make a herbal infusion from hyssop, mullein, or licorice steep two teaspoons of the dried herb in one cup of boiling water for ten minutes. To make cayenne tea stir one teaspoon of cayenne powder into one cup of boiling water. Take one tablespoon of this solution and mix it with one cup of hot water. Drink one to three cups daily to help clear the lungs.

Another very helpful herb that is not an expectorant, but rather a cleansing herb is red clover. It is beneficial as it helps to clear the lymphatic system of toxins, thereby improving the body’s ability to overcome the illness. You can add red clover to your cup of hyssop, mullein, or licorice tea.


Addressing your diet is also important when dealing with congestion of the lungs. First, avoid all mucus forming foods — dairy products, sugar,

chicken broth

white flour products, eggs, starchy vegetables, and processed foods. What you should eat is a lot of vegetables, broth, and fresh fruit juices. Hot soup, particularly chicken soup and miso soup are very beneficial for treating chest congestion. Supplementing with garlic and vitamin C with bioflavonoids can also help by improving immune function. The more capable the body is of overcoming the infection, the less mucus formation, coughing, and inflammation.

Congestion in the lungs natural treatment options allow you to have more solutions for bronchial problems. Instead of taking an over-the-counter medication that may have negative side effects and actually inhibit the body’s ability to heal, natural options address the well-being of the entire body, facilitating natural healing rather than a suppression of symptoms. While essential oils, herbs, and nutrition are very beneficial, be sure to talk to your doctor if you are chronically ill, pregnant, or if you are taking any form of medication.


Balch, Phyllis A. “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).

Hoffmann, David. “The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies.” (Element Books, 1996).

photo by Thowra (CC/flickr)

photo by Liz West (CC/flickr)


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