I am a long-time student and user of natural healing methods.
Best Natural Cures for Bronchitis
Bronchitis is deep, persistent chest congestion that, unlike a cold, never seems to go away.
Osha root--usually sold at health food stores as a tincture--is probably the best choice as your first "go-to" for bronchitis or other persistent respiratory problems. Many people use it successfully for relief from COPD and emphysema.
Osha is said to increase blood circulation to the lungs, as well as helping to clear mucus from throat, sinuses, and lungs. This improved blood circulation is said to promote deeper breathing.
A single dose gives quick relief from bronchitis, and persistent use will usually cure. If osha root does not completely cure by itself--there is still some persistent congestion--using sandalwood essential oil in conjunction with osha will usually do the job. https://www.doctorshealthpress.com/food-and-nutrition-articles/healing-benefits-of-osha-root/
Sandalwood Essential Oil
Most of us think of the essential oil of sandalwood as a delightful perfume, but it also has powerful healing properties. I was surprised to learn of its use as a medince when reading through Maude Grieve's A Modern Herbal, and used sandalwood to quickly cure my own bronchitis. It was incredibly effective!
Grieve suggests taking 6-9 drops of the oil on a lump of sugar--thus creating a homemade cough lozenge--or mixed with a spoonful of regular granulated sugar if you have no lump sugar on hand. The flavor is pleasantly aromatic, and most people would find the taste less unpleasant than eucalyptus cough drops.
The oil could also be taking by mixing with a spoonful of honey--or with a spoonful of homemade wild cherry cough syrup (my favorite way to take it). I took 6 drops once daily. Twice daily might be better.
Sandalwood is expectorant—meaning that it will clear the lungs of mucus.
Be sure to get real full-strength oil of sandalwood. Some of the oil of sandalwood sold nowadays is much diluted. It should have a good strong smell.
This remedy is an old and unusual one, which I have never found mentioned in other herbals. Maude Grieve seems to be the only source for it. But it is fantastic! http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sandal12.html
Old Man's Beard (Usnea barbata)
Old man's beard is a lichen that has powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties, and is specifically effective against gram-positive barteria such as staph and strep. It is excellent for treating infections, especially of the lungs and urinary tract. It is also used externally to treat impetigo and ringworm, as well as wounds.
This is an excellent all-around remedy to keep on hand for all manner of infections, both internal and external.
As noted in the link, the medicinal principles of this herb do not extract fully into water. If it is to be prepared as a tea, it should first be mixed with a small amount of alcohol.
The easiest way to prepare it is to make a tincture, which is made by mixing the powdered herb with vodka in a 1:3 ratio. That is, mix one ounce of the powdered herb with three ounces of vodka and shake.
When I make it this way I don't bother to strain the mixture, but just take it as-is--in which state it is kind of like swallowing a rather thin mud. I feel that too much of the mixture would be lost--and hence wasted--by straining.
The dosage rate is one teaspoon three times a day.
This remedy is a good choice if you have tried the previous two and decided that it's time to use an infection-fighting remedy.
Fans of The Clan of the Cave Bear series will remember the heroine gathering elecampane roots for coughs and colds.
Maude Grieve says that elecampane root is a favorite domestic remedy for bronchitis. One of the root’s active principles, Helenin, is a powerful antiseptic and bactericide, so that it destroys the bacterial infection, and it has been shown to be peculiarly destructive to the Tubercle bacillus.
Since this is a root, it is prepared as a decoction. To make a decoction, add about an ounce of the root to about a quart of water, bring to a boil, and reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. The dose is one or two cups per day. The flavor is pleasantly aromatic, and it makes a pleasant syrup if the decoction is simmered until reduced by half and equal parts honey added.(This syrup should be kept refrigerated, or it will spoil.) A few tablespoons of the syrup can be taken a couple of times a day, or as needed.
Elecampane can also be prepared as a tincture by placing the chopped root in a jar and adding alcohol (vodka or Everclear) to cover and letting this sit for about a month and then straining.
The action of Elecampane is considered mild and slow—but very sure—in its effects. It gives quick relief, but a cure takes a week or two. http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/e/elecam07.html
I have actually had better luck with Usnea barbata.
Wild Cherry Cough Syrup
Wild cherry bark is another remedy that Clan of the Cave Bear fans will remember. I know of no other remedy that silences a cough so quickly. The bark may be purchased from herb dealers and prepared as a tea, but wild cherry bark should never be boiled, as this destroys the medicinal principals.
But wild cherry bark is usually prepared as a cough syrup, making it pleasant to take and preserving the medicinal principals almost indefinitely. Wild cherry cough syrup can also be purchased from herb dealers.
It's easy to make your own wild cherry cough syrup--and it's especially nice if you can prepare this medicine from freshly harvested wild cherry bark. http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/chewil56.html
Here's the recipe:
HOW TO MAKE WILD CHERRY COUGH SYRUP
Fill a pint jar with wild cherry bark and add a flavored brandy to cover. (Cherry brandy is nice but other flavors are fine.) Let this stand, tightly covered, shaking every now and then, for about a month (one moon cycle), strain, mix with equal parts honey, and bottle. This preparation will keep indefinitely.
You can purchase the bark from herb dealers or at many health food stores, but be sure it’s fresh. Wild cherry bark loses its potency after one year of storage. It should have an almond scent.
I think it is best to locate a wild cherry tree and harvest the bark in summer. You are after the inner bark, the first layer of bark under the papery outer bark. Try to stick to one smallish area on one side of the tree, so you don’t kill the tree.
The inner bark will be a pale tan, quickly turning an orangey color with exposure to the air. It should have a pleasant bitterish almond scent.
Never boil wild cherry bark, as high temperatures destroy the medicinal principles.
Sharon Vile (author) from Odessa, MO on March 27, 2020:
I've found that the best approach to chronic bronchitis is to use multiple remedies at once: Osha combined with a few drops of oregano essential oil 2-3 times a day, plus large doses of echinacea (6 capsules 3-4 times a day), and lots of Vitamin C (4,000-6,000 IU a day).
Since osha tincture is getting hard to find, because health food stores sell out of it quickly, I would suggest purchasing osha root from an herb dealer and preparing your own tincture. (It's also a lot cheaper that way.)
Halemane Muralikrishna from South India on March 25, 2020:
Sharon, you have very nicely written the use of plants and barks, decoctions for relieving bronchitis. In view of the corona pandemic, I too felt sharing Indian herbal remedies. Please read my hub on Tinospora, Abelmoschus and Swertia http://hub.me/anpsx