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Bronchitis, Pneumonia and other Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Both Bronchitis and Pneumonia are usually preceded by upper respiratory tract infection. Bronchitis refers to infection or irritation of the bronchii (the tubes leading down to the lungs); Pneumonia refers to infection or irritation of the lungs. Usually caused by irritants such as pollution and smoking. A light protective coating of mucus in the lungs is normal and healthy. However sticky and prolific mucus is a hindrance to lung function and a haven for infection. Exercise and good diet are essential precursors to lung health but if this doesn't produce results, check for allergies and digestive function. You may need to look at stomach and bowel flora and digestive enzymes.

Symptoms can be acute with viral or bacterial infection accompanied by sudden onset of shaking, chills, fever, chest pain and chronic coughing, as in smoker's cough, with poor ability to expectorate excessive mucus. With pneumonia, shallow breathing, coughing and abnormal breathing sounds are common. Fluid in the lungs is generally detected in X-ray.


  • Adopt a mucous-free diet and remove wheat and dairy products from your diet, especially milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs. Avoid gluten-rich grains like wheat, or refined grains like pasta. Use corn and rice pasta instead and rye bread.
  • Take no alcohol, tea or coffee.
  • Avoid sugar, meat or fried foods.
  • If you are vegan, or have what you feel to be a healthy diet, then excess mucus is probably an indication of general low health, a cold body and a weakened immune system, which needs to be sustained and strengthened with tonic and supportive herbs and foods. Natural food choices are those, which grow regionally and seasonally.
  • Eat plenty of onions, leeks, spring onions, garlic, turnips, fresh lemons and limes, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cabbage, cabbage juice, rice and maize.
  • Onion Syrup is a wonderful home made remedy: Put six chopped white onions (and several cloves of garlic – if you’re brave) to a pan, add a cup of honey. Cover and simmer on low heat for two hours and strain. Take at regular daily intervals, preferably warm.
  • Vitamins A & C, and zinc are all important for lung health.
    If the mucus is yellow, brown or green, you need to cool the body down:
  • Use plenty of lemons, limes and garlic, alongside a little ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Essential oils of lime and lemon with a little eucalyptus in a olive or sunflower oil could be massaged on the chest and back morning and night.
    If you have white or transparent mucus then you may feel more cold and shivery and need extra heat and energy:

  • Use less fresh fruit and raw vegetables and take plenty of horseradish sauce, baked onions and grated ginger in dishes. Drink ginger tea. Massage with marjoram, rosemary and black pepper essential oils. Or use them in the bath.
    For any kind of mucus and blocked nose, sinus and/or chest:
  • Try an Ayurvedic remedy - chew 12 raw peppercorns daily.
  • White horehound herb, plantain leaf, elderberry and elderflower, nettles, yarrow herb, pine needles can all be made into teas. Take some Onion Syrup and/or Cherry Bark & Elderberry Cough Syrup.
  • Lobelia is a prime lung herb, a tremendous anti-spasmodic and expectorant, (not only very useful for asthmatics who can learn to use it instead of ventolin for calming and assisting breathing) but also for bringing up excessive phlegm and mucous. Ask a Herbal Practitioner for this herb.

    Natural Healing

  • Use essential oils of eucalyptus, turpentineless lavender, peppermint, rosemary, and cubeb in the bath, for massage, as an inhalation, or try our Breath-eze Massage Oil blend on both chest and back. Sprinkle the essential oils onto hankies, pillows, sheets and night wear. When lying down the whole body becomes more clogged and congested and these essential oils can work well at this time. Sleep propped up with a pillow to ease breathing at night.
  • A heat pad or hot water bottle applied to the chest and back 30 minutes daily is beneficial.
  • Limit sugar consumption (including fruit sugars) to less than 50 grams a day.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and Rest is vital (preferably bed rest).
  • Make sure your bowels are eliminating daily as any bowel disorders will impair lung function.
  • Exercise helps the lungs. Horse riding encourages the diaphragm to push strongly up and down, particularly when galloping. Go cycling, swimming, running and dancing. Strong emotions like apprehension and fear can be physically dissipated with these simple pleasures.
  • Take hot and cold showers. Direct the jet onto the chest and back, from the shoulders to the waist and directly on the lungs. If you are frail or weak then this must be supervised by those knowledgeable, but, given the go-ahead and adequate help, it strengthens the lungs, and can help turn around a chronic condition.
  • Reflexology - you don't need to know what you're doing, just rub and stroke your feet. This is best done just before you go to bed. The lung reflex points are situated on the balls of the feet and the front of the foot. Sinus reflex points are found between the toes. Alternatively, find a reflexologist in your area.
  • Postural Drainage. This should be performed two or three times daily by lying with the top half of the body off the bed, using the forearms as support, with your head over a bowl. Assume this position for a 5 to 15 minute period while coughing and expectorating into the bowl on the floor. (This procedure, however effective, is hard work on an individual, so its a good idea to have a helper.


  • Other herbs to use include mullein flowers, eucalyptus, poke root, cleavers herb, pau d'arco root, elecampane herb, pine needles, thuja leaves and echinacea root, Siberian ginseng root which have anti-mucus and anti-viral properties, and they will help to generally support the body.
  • Expectorant herbs are very important such as Lobelia (please enquire), liquorice, wild cherry bark, white horehound – ingredients found in Cherry Bark & Elderberry Cough Syrup.
  • The immune system may be low and in need of motivation and support, therefore use echinacea root, nettle leaf and Siberian ginseng root.
  • Dr. Vogel, the respected herbalist, says that weak lungs need plenty of calcium, an easily available source of which is daily nettle & raspberry leaf tea, picked preferably from young Spring nettles, and not later than July. Make barley water – very rich in calcium.

    Herbal Formulae Suggestions

  • Lung Support Formula
  • Cherrybark & Elderberry Cough Syrup
  • Echinacea tincture
  • Lobelia tincture (Only available from a qualified herbal practitioner, to be taken under their direct supervision) Please enquire.
  • ‘The Green Stuff’ multi-vitamin & mineral food supplement
  • Breath Easy Herb Tea
  • Breath-eze Massage Oil

    (Bronchitis) represents ’Inflamed family environment. Arguments and yelling. Sometimes silent.’ (Pneumonia) ‘Desperate. Tired of life. Emotional wounds that are not allowed to heal.’ (Lung Problems) ‘Depression. Grief. Fear of taking in life. Not feeling worthy of living life fully.’ Affirmations: (Bronchitis) ‘I declare peace and harmony within me and around me. All is well.’ (Pneumonia) ‘I freely take in Divine ideas that are filled with the breath and the intelligence of Life. This is a new moment.’ (Lung problems) ‘I have the capacity to take in the fullness of life. I lovingly live life to the fullest.’

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