Respiratory infections are any infection of the throat, sinuses, lungs or airways. They are usually caused by viruses, but they can be also caused by bacteria. Respiratory tract infection (RTIs) are one of the most common reasons why people visit their doctor. One of the most widespread respiratory infections is the common cold.
There are two types of respiratory tract infections:
- Upper respiratory tract infections: affect the throat, nose, and sinuses, and
- Lower respiratory tract infections: affect the lungs and airways.
Upper Respiratory Infections
These infections usually include:
- The common cold
- Sinusitis (infection of the sinuses)
- Tonsillitis (infection of the tissues at the back of the throat and tonsils)
- Laryngitis (infection of the larynx – voice box)
The most common symptom of an upper respiratory infection is a cough. Other symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, headache, sore throat, muscle aches and sneezing.
Lower Respiratory Infections
The most common lower respiratory infections include:
- Flu (can affect both, the upper or lower respiratory tract)
- Pneumonia (lungs infection)
- Bronchitis (infection of the airways)
- Bronchiolitis (infection of the small airways)
- Tuberculosis (chronic bacterial infection of the lungs)
The most common symptom of a lower respiratory infection is a severe a cough that may bring up mucus and phlegm. Some other symptoms are an increased rate of breathing, wheezing, tight feeling in your chest, and breathlessness.
15 Herbs for Treating Respiratory Tract Infections
Fortunately, nature has provided numerous herbs and botanicals, which provide deep nutrition for our respiratory system. Let’s take a look at the 15 great herbs for respiratory infections!
Peppermint contains menthol, a soothing ingredient that can relax the muscles of your respiratory system and promote free breathing. Peppermint is also an antioxidant that fights harmful organisms. On the other hand, menthol is an incredible decongestant. You can consume peppermint tea 3-4 times a day, or use therapeutic chest balm or some other inhalants, which contain menthol.
It has amazing immune-boosting compounds. Echinacea has been used in the natural medicine for centuries and was commonly known as “cure-all” plant. It can act immediately at the first signs of infection to quell it rapidly. Echinacea can also help reduce the symptoms of cold and flu and eliminate the illness. Drink Echinacea tea 3-4 times a day, or take Echinacea in a supplement form to release the symptoms of RTIs.
Eucalyptus is a native herb to Australia and a favorite plant of Koala bears. People all around the world are familiar with the outstanding healing properties of the eucalyptus plant. Eucalyptus contains a potent compound known as cineole, which is responsible for the numerous health benefits. Not just it has a nice, refreshing aroma, but it can also soothe throat irritation and promote respiratory health. Eucalyptus is the most common ingredient in the cough syrups and lozenges. It can ease a cough, soothes irritated sinus passages, and fights congestion. You can drink eucalyptus tea a few times per day, or use eucalyptus essential oil for massages in order to improve your immune system during an illness.
Elderberry, also known as an elder, has been used for thousands of years to heal wounds when applied to the skin. This wonderful herb is also taken by mouth to treat respiratory tract infections. It is a fantastic immune-boosting arsenal that ranks amongst the most effective herbal remedies for treating many respiratory conditions. Elderberry is rich in antioxidants and it has an ability to prevent and diminish the swelling of mucous membranes. It also has a great antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer plant.
Elecampane was used traditionally as a specific remedy for chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma. It has actions that are expectorant, sedative, anti-fungal, warming, anti-microbial, and relaxing. This miracle flower can soothe bronchial tube linings and thus, act as an expectorant for lung cleansing. There are 2 active compounds in elecampane root, which provide the beneficial effect — pantolactone, an expectorant with antitussive action, and inulin that soothes bronchial passage. Elecampane is available in tinctures, teas, and capsules.
Note: People suffering from hypertension or cardiac problems should use elecampane no more than once a week.
This plant is native to the southwest. Chaparral has been really appreciated by the Native Americans for respiratory support and lung detoxification. it contains potent antioxidants, which resist irritation and NDGA that is known to fight histamine response. This herb can also fight harmful organisms. You can find chaparral in a form of tea and tincture. It will clear your airways of mucus and support free breathing.
- Holy basil (Tulsi)
Holy basil, also known as Tulsi, has remarkable health benefits. It benefits the skin and treats various skin infections both externally and internally. This herb can also fight viral and bacterial respiratory infections, reduce fever, heal asthma, lung disorders, and relieve stress. Holy basil is undoubtedly a powerful medicinal herb that has been highly valued by many cultures all around the world. You can drink basil tea, use basil essential oil for massages or take it in a supplement form.
Lungwort is a flowering plant that actually look like lung tissue in appearance. For centuries, lungwort plant has been used to clear congestion and promote respiratorily and lung health. It contains compounds which are effective against many harmful organisms that usually affect our respiratory system. You can consume 3-4 cups of lungwort tea, or take lungwort in a tincture or supplement form.
Horses are usually given lobelia to be able to breathe deeply. What more can we say! Lobelia is one of the most valuable herbal remedies in the world. It contains an alkaloid called lobeline that breaks up congestion and thins mucus. Additionally, this plant stimulates the adrenal glands in order to release epinephrine, so it can relax the airways and promote free breathing. Lobelia is included in many cold and cough remedies. Lobelia is available in a form of tea, supplement, and tincture.
Oregano contains many significant vitamins and nutrients. It highly benefits immunity because it helps improve symptoms of respiratory infections due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Oregano contains two powerful compounds (rosmarinc and carvacrol acid), which act as a natural decongestant that has positive benefits on the nasal passage airflow and respiratory tract. In order to treat respiratory infections, you can drink oregano tea 2-3 times a day or use oregano essential oil for doing massages.
- Osha Root
Osha originates from the Rocky Mountain area and has traditionally been used by the Native Americans for treating respiratory infections. The root of this plant contains camphor and certain other compounds that make it one of the greatest lung-support plants in the U.S. One of the key benefits of this herb is that it helps upsurge circulation to the lungs, and makes it easier to take a deep breath. Your Health Tubers highly recommend Osha root for sinusitis and respiratory irritations. Drink 3-5 cups of Osha root daily, or take this plant in a supplement form.
- Plantain herb
It has been used for hundreds of years to soothe irritated mucous membranes and reduce coughs. Most of its active constituents show antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, as well as being antitoxin and anti-inflammatory. Clinical trials have found it truly effective against cold, lung irritation, and cough. Plantain leaf is an excellent remedy for relieving a dry cough. Drink warm plantain leaf tea a few times per day. You can also consume plantain herb as a supplement.
- Sage (Salvia Officinalis)
This plant has a heady aroma, which makes it one of the best essential oils. Salvia Officinalis is abundant in health benefits and it has been used for thousands of years for treating many serious health conditions. It can also treat lung problems and other respiratory issues. Sage tea is a popular treatment for coughs and sore throats. The rich aromatic content makes it an excellent inhaling remedy. You can drink sage tea 3-5 times a day and use it as an inhalator by taking a deep breath in a sage tea’s vapors.
Both the leaves and flowers of the mullein plant are used to make a strong herbal extract that aids strengthen the lungs. This plant is used by many herbal practitioners to cleanse the bronchial tubes, clear excess mucus from the lungs, and decrease inflammation that is present in the respiratory tract. In order to heal respiratory infections, you can prepare a mullein tea and consume it 3-4 times per day. Alternatively, you can take mullein in a tincture form.
Thyme is an excellent natural remedy to get relief in chest congestion. It makes lungs very strong to struggle against the mucus-causing bacteria. This herb acts as protecting shield against virus and bacteria. Prepare thyme tea and add a teaspoon of honey to make it sweet. Consume this herbal tea 3-4 times a day. You may also use some diluted thyme oil for chest congestion. Just mix thyme oil with olive oil in 1:1 proportion. Next, rub it gently on your chest to relieve discomfort and heal respiratory infections.
You can treat respiratory infections at home by drinking warm herbal teas, taking herbal supplements and Vitamin D, using essential oils for massages, drinking plenty of water, as well as fresh lemon and orange juices, and resting.