In order to work at peak capacity, the lungs need to be clean and clear from pollutants that are inhaled daily. Smoking and exposure to a polluted environment contribute to a poor respiratory condition. Irritants can include hair spray, perfume and stomach acids that form mucous, which is a breeding ground for infection and disease. Before starting any type of herb therapy, discuss your condition with your doctor.
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.
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.
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 oil also blends well with other healthful oils.
The plantain leaf has been used for hundreds of years to ease cough and soothe irritated mucous membranes. 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.
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. 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.
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 many cough and cold remedies.
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 an herb that fights harmful organisms.
Peppermint, and peppermint oil, contains 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.
Osha is an 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.