Respiratory distress


Taking herbs can be a good first line of defense when you suffer from respiratory ailments such as congestion, coughs, and colds. You can find more ideas in the seasonal allergies post if that is where your respiratory distress stems from. Many of the herbs listed may be combined for cumulative effects. They are available in various forms, as nutritional supplements, tea blends and prepared oils, and of course fresh.

Licorice Root:
licoriceLicorice is very soothing and softens the mucous membranes of the throat and especially the lungs and stomach and at the same time cleanses any inflamed mucous membrane that needs immune system support. It reduces the irritation in the throat and yet has an expectorant action. It is the saponins that loosen the phlegm in the respiratory tract, so that the body can expel the mucus. Compounds within this root help relieve bronchial spasms and block the free radical cells that produce the inflammation and tightening of the air ways. The compounds also have antibacterial and antiviral effects to them as well which helps fight off viral and bacterial strains in the body that can cause lung infections.

coltsfootColtsfoot has been traditionally by Native Americans for thousands of years to strengthen the lungs. It clears out excess mucus from the lungs and bronchial tubes. It soothes the mucus membranes in the lungs, and has been shown in research to assist with asthma, coughs, bronchitis, and other lung ailments. Coltsfoot is available in dried form for tea or as a tincture.

Osha Root:
osha rootA 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 a great lung-support herb. 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.

thymeContains an essential oil that is rich with powerful antiseptic, antibacterial, & strong antioxidant properties. Thyme possesses expectorant & antispasmodic properties, making it useful in the treatment of bronchitis, whooping cough, inflammation of the upper respiratory tract, and throat infections.

oreganaAlthough 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. Oil of oregano fights off the dangerous bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, better than the most common antibiotic treatments.

lobeliaLobelia 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.


eucalyptusEucalyptus 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.

mulleinBoth the flowers and the leaves of the mullein plant are used to make a herbal extract that helps strengthen the lungs. Mullein is used by herbal practitioners to clear excess mucus from the lungs, cleanse the bronchial tubes, and reduce inflammation that is present in the respiratory tract.

sageSage’s essential oils are the source of the many benefits of sage tea for lung problems and common respiratory ailments. Sage tea is a traditional treatment for sore throats and coughs. The rich aromatic properties arising from sage’s volatile oils of thujone, camphor, terpene and salvene can be put to use by inhaling sage tea’s vapors to dispel lung disorders and sinusitis.

peppermintContains menthol — a soothing ingredient known to relax the smooth muscles of the respiratory tract and promote free breathing. Dried peppermint typically contains menthol, menthone, menthyl acetate, menthofuran and cineol. Peppermint oil also contains small amounts of many additional compounds including limonene, pulegone, caryophyllene and pinene. 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.

Plantain leaf:
plantainHas been used for hundreds of years to ease cough and soothe irritated mucous membranes. Many of its active constituents show antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as being anti-inflammatory and antitoxic. Clinical trials have found it favorable against 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.

Remedy recipes

Sore throat remedy

ACV honey
Apple cider vinegar has a multitude of properties that make it a great health and beauty solution. Here are the ones that make it an unbeatable sore throat remedy.

  • Apple cider vinegar balances the pH levels of your throat’s tissues, making them more alkaline or more acidic according to your body’s needs. It also kills the bacteria that cause sore throats.
  • It is also a natural expectorant, which means it loosens and thins the phlegm in your throat, making it easier to breath and swallow.
  • It’s bacterial properties enable it to fight the infection that causes sore throats.
  • It contains prebiotic inulin, which supports your immune system and boosts white blood cell and T-cell counts.


  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey (optional)


  1.  Mix ingredients together.
  2. Take one spoon full as needed.

Onion poultice

oinion poultice
Onions help break up congestion and relieve a cough. They’re amazing at absorbing toxins! Good for more than just a cough, you can use this onion poultice for bruises, swelling, or inflammation too.


  • 1 cup of onion
  • ½ cup of sea salt (optional, it helps draws out liquids)
  • Poultice bag or thin cloth (optional)
  • Plastic wrap (to keep in the moisture)


  1. Blend, grind or finely chop the onion.
  2. Mix in the salt.
  3. If you’re using it to break up congestion, gently warm. (do not cook, you want the onions to still be raw)
  4. Place mixture in the poultice bag or wrap in the cloth, if you’re using it.
  5. Wipe coconut (or olive) oil on the chest, then place the poultice on and cover with a plastic wrap.
  6. Leave for 2-8 hours, then discard.
  • It’s easiest to leave the poultice on while asleep.
  • If you don’t want to walk around smelling like an onion, wipe the area clean with a bit of lemon juice and water.
  • Onions draw out toxins. Since they’re so good at it, freshly chopped onions that haven’t had the chance to attract toxins are the best choice.

Mustard plaster

mustard plaster
A mustard plaster will bring nearly immediate relief and warmth to a respiratory system plagued by long lingering coughs, congestion, bronchitis or cold damp pneumonia. It works mainly by increasing circulation and introducing deep heat to congested lungs, thus stimulating the loosening and expectoration of mucus.


  • ½ cup whole black or brown mustard seeds (ordinary yellow mustard powder will do in a pinch but quite possibly may lack the ‘zip’ needed to bring good circulation to the area.)
  • 2 cups flour, any kind
  • Water to activate the’ heat’ in the powdered mustard seed and to bind it with the flour


Before beginning you may want to prepare a bed with a towel to catch any drips and avoid messing up sheets. Your patient should be ready for application as soon as the plaster is ready to avoid losing warmth.

  1. Lay a folded towel or table cloth out across a table to protect the table. On top of that spread open your linen fabric.
  2. Mix together the 1/2 cup mustard powder and the 2 cups of flour until well blended.
  3. Take some of the dry mix and mix in water until the mixture resembles thick paste. You want it to retain a spreadable consistency.
  4. Spread the mixture out thoroughly over the center part of the trifold (see picture) judging how much you will need to cover either the chest or the back. Doing both is a good idea. Remember that often the underarm area can be pretty sensitive, too, so don’t spread the paste the whole length of the cloth.
  5. When the plaster has been spread sufficiently, fold the two sides of the trifold over the center so that you have two layers of cloth, a layer of mustard mixture and a final layer of cloth. Flip the entire plaster over so that the single cloth layer is facing up and the two cloth layers are on the bottom. Roll each end in toward the center.
  6. Put some hot water in a basin. In this water, submerge the rolled up plaster until the water becomes cloudy. You will likely get a good strong whiff of the volatile oils that are activated by the water, smelling a bit like horseradish. Once the plaster has been activated, squeeze out the excess water and be ready to quickly unroll and apply to the body.
  7. You can wrap the plaster in plastic wrap though it is not necessary.

(source, sourcesource, source)


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