Home Remedies for Treating Bronchitis
Cough, cough - now this is a subject I can really relate to at the moment. I have been struggling with a rather severe case of bronchitisfor the past week and decided I'd had enough with 'traditional' treatments - because none of them are working! In fact, they are making it worse and I feel like my chest and back muscles have gone into overdrive.
I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to find some natural ways to help myself and lo and behold, these are already proving to be more helpful than the over-the-counter 'remedies' I have been trying all week - and which have done nothing but make my symptoms worse.
It should be noted that bronchitis can be a precursor to pneumonia, so keep that in mind. As in all things as well, there is no substitute for a chest x-ray or being checked by a medical health care professional if you are not improving.
Photo Credit: WikiCommons MTM55
Soothing Things That Help Bronchitis
Strange as it may sound, some things just make me feel better when I have bronchitis and here are a few simple suggestions
- Stick to soups or stews to eat - things that are warm and make you feel good to eat/comfort foods
- Stay away from cold foods such as ice creams and such unless they make you feel better. Sometimes I find that cold foods with bronchitis make it worse and trigger coughing
- Drink plenty of liquids, as much of it water as you can tolerate, but try and drink more warm liquid as that is reputed to loosen mucus faster than cold or room temperature liquids
- Try to forget everything that is not vital to do at that moment! It will be there when you feel better and in order for someone to get over bronchitis, rest is essential - reduce stress and use the opportunity for good - to heal
- I personally have found that going out into the night air helps my bronchitis - but especially damp sea air. If you happen to live near the ocean and you get bronchitis, try it and see if it doesn't help. Damp and steam help anyway but somehow the addition of salt air always makes my chest ease up
- If you can't go to the sea, try filling a sink with steaming water or a pan - place a towel over your head and inhale the warm steam to loosen congestion - repeat as often as you can
- Taking a steamy shower or steaming up the bathroom works but for aching muscles and chest, try a tub soak in water as hot as you can stand it - try adding apple cider vinegar to the water as it helps to soothe aching muscles - 3 cups to a bathtub of water
Do's and Don'ts for Bronchitis
- Get as much rest as you can - contrary to what people think, lung infection/congestion is not easy to bounce back from and that is why people get pneumonia. Take the opportunity to rest often and do quiet things - naps are okay when you have bronchitis!
- That old adage about gargling with salt water really is true. Only use 1 teaspoon per cup of warm water - you can't gargle too often - just don't swallow
- Use a humidifier as much as you can tolerate - it really does help loosen chest congestion. I prefer warm air humidity but some people swear by cool air humidifiers - whatever works
- Remember the croup treatments you used when your children were small - or if you didn't do that - here is the word to the wise. Steam up the bathroom or stand in a shower full of steam for as long as you can tolerate or until the warm water starts to cool. The steam does wonders for chest congestion
- Don't be afraid to cough (just remember to be polite about it and cover your mouth). Coughing is actually what loosens the congestion and gets you past it keeping locked in your lungs. Over-the-counter and prescribed cough medicines can actually hinder the loosening of congestion so go easy with those
- If you are experiencing chest pain or muscle pain from coughing as I am, it is better to use ibuprofen or aspirin for the pain rather than overdoing on cough medicines to prevent the coughing - remember to never give children aspirin though - use Tylenol instead. Aspirin or ibuprofen, even Tylenol helps with any fever associated with bronchitis
- Drink, drink, drink - I don't mean alcohol - drink as much water as you can stand in whatever form. If you tire of drinking plain water, switch to herbal teas - sometimes the warm liquids can also help loosen chest congestion. Sodas, juices, and other liquids are 'okay' but they really do not do what you need them to do - turn the mucus in your chest into as thin a state as possible - gross but true. Only by bombarding it with gallons of water will you be able to thin that out and get rid of it
- Take care of yourself by not pushing yourself - meaning if you are sick, you need to protect yourself from further exposures as well as doing too much. Stay away from people who are sick if at all possible as when you are already sick, you can pick up other bugs that may make your condition worse or give you something else to deal with
- If you smoke - DON'T - smoking and bronchitis are polar opposites and smoking will only increase your chances of getting pneumonia or worsening your bronchitis by engaging in it
- Stay away from triggers - I find that if I have bronchitis, certain foods trigger some kind of coughing spasm such as spicy foods. Smells also trigger coughing jags for me - for instance hair products in a beauty salon or perfumes in a shopping mall. Other times these smells or foods don't bother me in the slightest but when you have an irritation in your chest such as bronchitis, you can be very susceptible to smells and reactants
- If you are not getting better in a reasonable amount of time (actually 1 week plus is not that unusual to get over bronchitis), or if you develop fevers, pain in the ears or your head, cough up blood, or cannot keep food or liquids down - seek medical help right away because you could be developing a more serious condition such as pneumonia
- As odd as it may sound, avoid talking too much - I find that too much jabbering makes me go into a coughing fit that takes me a long time to recover from. You don't have to be silent - just try not to overwork your vocal muscles which in turn work your chest muscles
- Try not to get upset about things in general - being tense and tight or getting a flare of temper can sometimes trigger an asthmatic-like bout of coughing
Nature's Remedies for Bronchitis
These are all things that are reputed to help you get over a case of bronchitis and they are all natural.
- Honey - I remember my grandmother saying that whiskey, honey and lemon was the best bronchitis treatment when I was little. Most folks just use honey and lemon though - 1 teaspoon honey and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Stir to combine and keep on the back of your throat as long as possible as you swallow it (see onion honey prescription below)
- Onions - It is reported that eating them raw or cooked, baked, in soups and stews or as seasoning works as well to fight bronchitis symptoms because they are expectorants. To relieve cough, it is recommended that you slice an onion and cover with honey - allow to stand overnight and then take out the onion. Use 1 teaspoon of this honey 4 times a day.
- Almonds - Supposedly they help heal respiratory illnesses - toasted with a little honey or eat raw, chopped onto other foods.
- Water with added oil - For loosening congestion, try doing some of the steam ideas or head steaming suggestions but add a few drops of eucalyptus, rosemary or peppermint oil to the water as this helps to open breathing passages
- Lemons - As a child, when I got bronchitis and would have a gagging fit, I would suck on a cut lemon sprinkled with just a few grains of sugar and it really seemed to work to cut the coughing jag. Lemons do have antibacterial properties and fight mucus as well. Another idea is to make a cup of lemon tea - slice or so of lemon or lemon rind in 1 cup of boiling water. Let steep for 5-10 minutes and drink. Gargle with lemon juice mixed with warm water (1 teaspoon in 1 cup warm water). This loosens mucus as well.
- Herbal teas- Chamomile, mint, and lemon teas are especially good but really any herbal teas seem to be helpful in treating bronchitis - drink as much of it as you can during the day and even before bed. I try and avoid caffeine as much as possible when I have bronchitis because it seems to make me cough more or get 'wired up' more when really relaxation and rest is the name of the game
- Bay leaf - Said to be good for bronchitis - but not if you are pregnant as it can induce bleeding. To use, you make a tea of 1 leaf in 1 cup boiling water and drink. Some people also make an application of it by soaking leaves in hot water and applying to the chest (cover with a kitchen towel and rewarm if it cools)
- Ginger tea - Use 1/2 teaspoon ginger, some ground cloves and bit of cinnamon - steep in 1 cup of boiling water and drink
- Thyme - Use 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme added to 1 cup boiling water. Sweeten with honey if desired and drink. You can also make a chest rub by using 2 parts oil (olive or corn) to 1 part of thyme oil) - rub on chest for congestion - and be careful someone doesn't stick you in the oven for dinner
- Savory - Also can be made into a tea - 1/2 teaspoon savory added to 1 cup boiling water. Use this tea once per day
- Dry mustard - This is where mustard plasters came from - 1 tablespoon dry mustard mixed with 4 tablespoons flour. Add enough warm water to form a bit of a runny paste. Apply corn or olive oil to the chest and place the mustard mixture in cheesecloth and cover with another piece. Then apply to chest - being careful not to apply when too hot and check skin for irritation - again being watchful you are not on the dinner menu
- Herbal Preparations- Some people swear by these of course and include vitamin C (rose hips is most preferred), Echinacea, garlic (although you can eat that naturally), elderberry, and licorice to name a few. I always caution people though that when using herbs, make sure that you know their toxic properties as well such as heart arrhythmia, etc because they can be as potent as medicines if used improperly
- Juniper berries - Juniper berry teas or berries are said to loosen up congestion and aid in lung healing. However, consult with an herbalist before using juniper berries or juniper oil for inhalation because a little goes a long way. It is recommended not to use juniper berries for more than 14 days at a time. They are contraindicated in people who have chronic or severe kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and who take lithium. Used properly, juniper berries are very aromatic and said to be best used in bronchitis as an inhaled steam.
Summing It Up
Being sick is nobody's idea of a good time but every once in a while, stuff happens! I've learned that when I get bronchitis, it is a good time to stop the world and try and think on a smaller scale. The focus becomes about getting better and worrying about all that I can't do or that I'm behind in doesn't seem to help.
I use the time to heal as best I can and pamper myself by not sweating the small stuff - I watch TV or nap - or read a book and know that I'll be back in action soon enough.
Bronchitis is not a serious malady though it can turn into one if untreated properly so have a care. Natural remedies sometimes are better than all the modern medicine in the world though in getting us from point A to point B - I was given an inhaler once for my bout of bronchitis that sent my heart into palpitations. I much prefer the tried and true methods that have been around for centuries and am only glad that I always can see light at the end of the tunnel! I always bounce back and this is good!
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Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 23, 2013:
Wild_Life from portugal on August 23, 2013:
Mrs.w on April 26, 2013:
I really enjoyed your article, it gave me a lot of information due to me having to to the hosptail cause i have no insurance. But it keeps coming back still can't eat.
kisses on March 15, 2013:
THANK YOU so humbily, Cindy!! I hope these thing's will help me a little more comfortable as... I haven't had much sleep in four day's!!
Maybe you can tell me...........
The best remedy to use to help my lung's not fill up at night AND something that would be a little sedating as.... I NEED TO GET SOME SLEEP!!! GRRRRRRrrrrr!!!! Lol lol lol!! :-) :-)
tanyawest111 on January 23, 2013:
Bronchitis is awful. I was sick just last week. i was so glad I had the MD247 service. I just pick up the phone called and had a doctor within minutes. They were able to help me and even call in a prescription for me.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 20, 2012:
Feel better~ OMG - that sounds like my grandmother's remedy as well but she used WHISKEY - no wonder people died is right! She gave me that as a tiny kid!!
Angela Blair from Central Texas on August 20, 2012:
What a timely Hub for me -- finally gave up and went to the doc today as sinusitis, bronchitus -- anything like that will go into pneumonia for me in a heartbeat -- and has since childhood. My Granny had a medicine that cleared that sort of thing up immediately. She put three drops of it in a tablespoon of milk and had you hold a slice of lemon in your hand. As soon as you swallowed the medicine in the milk you chomped down on the lemon as that stuff tasted horrible -- but it cleared this sort of thing up a-b-c-pronto! I finally found out what it was -- and you can no longer buy it -- it was Creosote Oil (like they use on cross-ties for the railroad) and was a favored old time remedy for lung ailments. No wonder so many of them died back then! Wonderful, informative Hub -- thanks! Best/Sis
beingwell from Bangkok on June 17, 2012:
Great tips! I love herbal and natural remedies. Great hub! Voted up and useful.
htodd from United States on May 27, 2012:
That is really great ..Thanks a lot
Clara on May 20, 2012:
OMG...I've never experiences anything like this since my last asthmatic episode as a child. Very bothersome. I was having chest pains for almost two months and no one did a good assessment to find out what was wrong. I finally one middle of the night started getting short of breath and my hubby had to leave work to rush me to the emergency room...Diagnoses-Bronchitis and pleurisy(explains the chest pains) I had no major cough prior to this but remember buying mucinex to take care of a suspted sorethroat. I just hate the feeling of not being able to get air into my lungs although oxygen saturation at the ER showed 100%. Coughing make it worse and I feel tighter in the chest. The pains are taken care of by the prescribed naproxen and hydroco. but still struggling with breathing espcially at night. It's only been 4 days since my diagnoses and hope I will start feeling lik myself again soon :(...Thanks hub for these tips...will try right away to start some of them. Currently sipping on hot water :)
Tina Laurent on December 09, 2011:
Hi Audrey, you are Everywhere! Was Googling pneumonia for a friend and your fantastic Hub turned up. Great advice and thanks for all the work put into helping us.
Michael Roberts from UK on November 23, 2011:
I am prone to chest infections so rarther than antibiotics I will try manuka honey first I know it is expensive, but it is worth a try. I think it will work.
theurbanshaman on November 03, 2011:
These are nice tips! Thanks!
dezlene on October 09, 2011:
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 27, 2011:
Thanks UGH - Feel better and happy Prom!
UGH on April 27, 2011:
Thanks for this article! I got sick on sunday, and my Prom is on saturday, which is TWO DAYS away!!! Your article is incredibly useful! I will for sure be using nearly all of your remedies!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 08, 2011:
Thanks so much for the read wordsmith1956~!
Linda Batey from Maine on March 08, 2011:
I am into home/herbal remedies as well--thank you for posting good information.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 20, 2011:
Gajanis786 - Thanks so much for stopping in....sometimes modern medicine can shoot you in the foot in my humble opinion!
gajanis from Pakistan on January 19, 2011:
Very nice hub and informative too....yes I agree with all of the above mentioned natural remedies which are excellent help specially because it doesn't attach any side effects as with the modern medicines.Thanks.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 16, 2011:
Thanks, shaekelly for stopping by~! Wishing you good health.
shaekelly from Alabama on January 16, 2011:
This is great hub and very help to me because I have both bronchitis and severe asthma, thanks for doing this.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on December 03, 2010:
Loseweightmama - Actually I have it again! Just my luck but these things really do work. I found another trigger today - spices. I had something for lunch that must have had more spices in it and it sent me into a coughing fit. I think 'comfort' foods were invented for the person with bronchitis....hope you feel better soon! If it goes on fore more than a month, you might want to check to make sure you don't have pertussis though as I got that too!
loseweightmama from Maine on December 03, 2010:
I just realized our lingering coughs must be bronchitis. It's getting old and annoying now so I think I'll try a few of these tips tomorrow! Thanks
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 19, 2010:
Good deal! I had it as a kid quite often and never really had the troubles I had this past year - in retrospect they thought I had pertussis but I never thought I was gonna shake it. Thankfully the cough that lasts 100 days has past! I can't imagine if I smoked....yikes.
Katie McMurray from Westerville on May 19, 2010:
Oh I'm so glad to have dug deep into your hubs, what great stuff, my eleven year old fought with bronchitis all winter and was in the hospital once. I'm really grateful for these great tips on natural home remedies to treat bronchitis. I will bookmark this. Thanks and Peace :)
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 14, 2010:
I totally hear you - I had mine for about 2 months! That was the worst bout I have ever had in all my years and in retrospect, they think I may have had whooping cough instead of just 'plain old bronchitis'. Nothing you can do though once it has gone past a certain point - so hoping YOU feel better soon!
jjrice16 on May 14, 2010:
thanks for this! I've had bronchitis for about 3 weeks now
:( theres really nothing i can do about it though (as in seeing the doctor wise), im just waiting for recovery!
Hope you all feel better soon!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 04, 2010:
Thanks - I had my first 1-cough jag night last night after 8 days - I'm feeling much better. Probably all that tea and stuff I've had over the past 4 of them. Thanks so much for commenting - and I'm hoping you don't need the hub, too - bronchitis is no fun!
theherbivorehippi from Holly, MI on March 03, 2010:
Awesome Hub!! Where were you when I use to get bronchitis every year?? I could have used this Hub! I'm selfishly hoping I never need this Hub again..haha. Hope you're feeling better!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 03, 2010:
Thanks for commenting, and thankfully, I don't smoke but I tend to always get bronchitis. This year though is the worst yet - but it gave me a great reason to write the hub while I was trying to not dwell on not being able to do other things I guess. Always a silver lining somewhere I suppose.
Darlene Sabella from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ... on March 03, 2010:
Excellent article, I always had bronchities whenever I get a cold, it goes right to my lungs, back in the day now gone forever, I was a smoker and it made it even worse. But, my lungs are the weakest area so when I get sick that were it goes. Thanks for the wise advise.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 03, 2010:
Thanks for sharing - I tried Mucinex this time and it actually made it worse - but then I am thinking because I had to go on lisinopril (which gives me a cough anyway) for my recent bout with the kidney thing, that may have just triggered a worse cough. I hear you - I think I coughed up several pairs of feet over the last week! Thanks for the tip and will have to think about taking something to sleep through it - or giving it to my poor husband! and the dogs.....and the neighbors...
Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on March 03, 2010:
Oh, to be young again and not get bronchitis every Jan/Feb. Here in central Texas, the mountain juniper (cedar fever) is the big culprit. I think dry air indoors is also an irritant. I now get hacking coughing fits from hell every winter. Try everything, but rest, steam, and herbal teas are the tickets for sure.
I've also discovered Vicodin will let you sleep without coughing all night. Mucinex and Zyrtec help during the day. All of the other tips in this hub are great too!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 03, 2010:
Thanks again for reading and commenting - the triggers are the worst for me because they come upon me unawares. I actually am never really bothered by tastes and smells except when I have bronchitis and that seems to just put me into vulnerable mode. But finally figuring it out and knowing that it can happen - that has proven my lifesaver now. That and carrying cough drops although they sometimes don't stop the agony before I've gone into gagging from coughing mode.
BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on March 02, 2010:
Great list. And since we are turning away from toxic pharmaceuticals we need this kind of information. We need to learn once again to be totally responsible for our health.
And yes, there are triggers. When winter comes around sometimes I get a bit of a cough and I know it's from dry indoor heat so I try and get the steam in the apartment - even open a window periodically. As a matter of fact I think I will make a cup of lemon and ginger tea - it does work!
Thanks so much for a great hub that I will bookmark and share.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 02, 2010:
I wrote on one of your hubs the other day - are we living in a frigging parallel universe? You said you were sick and I was sick too - good grief! That's cool though - I can always use good friends and I can definitely say at this moment in time....I feel your pain....hack/hack, cough/cough. This has to be the worst I've had in at least 10-15 years and I was wondering if it is because I'm on lisinopril (mildest dose and that's all) for that hypertension thing but coughing - OMG - would think I've coughed up my toenails at least 5 times....I have way too much to do but oh well - it's just one of those tings as my grandmother would say! My job really frowns on honey, lemon and whiskey on the job though I'm thinking it IS medicinal, right? ONLY KIDDING! Thanks for reading - and feel better soon.....my doc is thinking about whether I need an antibiotic - I think it may be too late for that!
Holle Abee from Georgia on March 02, 2010:
You won't believe this, but I have bronchitis right now!! How'd you know?