Remedies for bronchitis coughing


Home Remedies for Bronchitis: Maybe Your Mother Was Right?

There are very good reasons why persistent cough is so common among toddlers. In fact, bronchial cough is one of the most common diagnosis codes for pediatric outpatient visits. Parents need to know that not all coughs are bad, and that there are many effective home remedies for persistent cough, some of which I describe below.

Their behavior sets toddlers up for persistent cough. Toddlers and older infants who are crawling normally cough more than youngsters of any other age. They are mobile, and as they explore, they are on the receiving end of many sneezes and coughs from other children their own size. As a child plays in a room full of other children the same size, he or she is likely to inhale a respiratory air stream that is sneezed or coughed out by other children.

Hand contact also plays a role–especially with respiratory syncytial virus. But if a toddler inhales when face to face with a sneezing child, a much larger viral innoculum lands in the upper airway and trachea. Also, the distance from the upper airway to the trachea and bronchial tree of a toddler is much less than that of an adult, so a sneeze in the face is nearly a direct hit to the bronchial air passages.
Mucus is “Good Stuff”

It is normal for children to have a mucousy cough. Nevertheless, many parents think a child who has a wet mucousy cough is sick. As long as the child is not wheezing or febrile, a wet loose cough does not indicate any problem with lung function; it is actually a natural protective response. Mucus is “good stuff.” It is loaded with antibacterial and antiviral properties, including anti-adhesins that impair the ability of bacteria to adhere to the airway.
Many parents also think that cold air is “bad” and that it can make a child sick. It is true that dry/cold air can cause some reactive wheezing in some children and adults. For most children, however, being properly dressed and spending time outdoors actually cuts down on upper respiratory tract infections. In Sweden, preschool children take naps outdoors in sleeping bags. Exercising outdoors is particularly good because is causes the sinus passages to drain and helps mobilize mucus. The beneficial effects of exercising in cold weather accrue to children with cystic fibrosis. (Cold “brisk” air was also used to combat tuberculosis in the sanitariums of the Alps and the Adirondacks.)
Hypothermia is another matter. Getting “chilled” after sitting around in wet clothes or being exposed to prolonged cold while underdressed, seems to worsen pulmonary immune defenses (probably related to ciliary clearance or anti-adhesin activity.) One can become “chilled” in the warm weather as well, by (for example) getting soaked in a rain storm and then sitting in air conditioning.
Home Remedies

Here are some home remedies I have recommended for children with persistent cough due to bronchitis:

Rose hips have been used throughout northern Europe and Siberia as cough remedies, because they are a source of vitamin C. Rose hips are high in bioflavinoids, which help “loosen mucus.” Rose hips are widely available in the United States in many decaffeinated fruit-flavored teas. One of the most well known are the “Zinger” teas from Celestial Seasonings. They have very kid-friendly flavors (Wild Berry Zinger tastes like grape Koolaid, while Lemon Zinger tastes like lemonade). Unlike juice, these teas have no calories, but can be sweeted with sugar or (for older children) with honey.
Cranberry juice has been shown to help defend against viral infections by impairing the ability of viruses to adhere to the cell. This effect is in addition to its Vitamin C content, and its well known protective role against urinary tract infections (by decreasing the ability of gram negative bacteria to cling to the bladder wall). An ounce of cranberry juice can be added to rose hips tea or lemonade, or mixed with apple sauce and served with a spoon.
Concord grapes are believed to share the antiviral property of cranberries. An ounce of concord grape juice can be added to rose hip or other drink.

Elderberry syrup is widely used in Scandinavia and Israel. It probably shares the same properties as the grape and cranberry.
Green tea is packed with the bioflavinoids that improve the antibacterial/antiviral properties of the mucus layer. Many people tell me their child doesn’t like tea, but will drink it if an ounce is mixed with lemonade.
Licorice tea is available in middle Eastern specialty stores. Licorice is also used in cough remedies in Israel.

Honey. The pediatric literature recently reported the results of a controlled study at a hospital in Pennsylvania that showed a teaspoon of buckwheat honey helped calm a cough.1 However, only children older than a year of age can be given honey because of the risk of botulism spores being able to germinate in the GI tracts of younger children.

There was an interesting article in The Scientist about taste receptors and metabolism.2 To the surprise of many, there are receptors in the lungs for both sweet and bitter; sweet induces bronchodilation and bitter induces bronchoconstriction.
Salt water mist. In many European countries, going to the shore was a treatment for bronchitis and asthma. Studies in Australia involving patients with cystic fibrosis showed that those with asthma who surfed had better lung function than those who did not. This led to the discovery that salt mist helped increase the efficiency of the “brushing” action of cilia. Three-percent nNormal saline inhalation treatments are being incorporated into the regimens of many children with cystic fibrosis.
No need to go to the shore: This can be another one of the home remedies.Parents who want to make their own salt mis can sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of kosher or sea salt in the bottom of the bath tub and turn on the hot water shower tap while the bathroom door is closed. As the water hits the salt, a nice mist will start to form. You can then put the stopper in and begin to fill the bath with warm water.
Chest rubs. Throughout the world, there are various forms of chest rubs that contain eucalyptus or camphor compound that give a sensation of warmth on the skin. Parents report that chest rubs seem to help with persistent cough, but evidence-based studies are sparse. The most likely mechanism of action is relaxation and bronchodilation. These compounds can be toxic if ingested, and should never be left where a child might eat or play with them. If a child is asthmatic, the smell might be asthma-inducing. For the vast majority of children, however, a small amount rubbed on the chest at bedtime would not seem to be hazardous.

The Germans make an infusion of thyme leaves. They put 1 tsp of thyme in a tea ball, and add hot water to make a tea. When sufficiently cool, they drink the tea with honey. Another one of the German cough remedies is ivy juice syrup, which is available in some health food stores.

Mustard plasters: now out of favor

Before World War II, mustard plasters were widely used in the United States. They are still available in Russian specialty stores. Mustard plaster recipes vary from family to family. One from an elderly neighbor from upstate New York is as follows:

Mix a tablespoon of dry mustard with a tablespoon of flour, add enough water to make a paste the consistency of peanut butter. Next, spread the mixture it (like peanut butter) on a 4-6 inch square of material cut from an old undershirt. Put another smaller layer of cotton cloth on top of the mustard paste and try to fold the edges so the mustard paste is sealed in. Place the cloth “sandwich” in the middle of the child’s chest for only a minute or two – – until the child stays it is starting to feel warm.

An Italian woman I know in Brooklyn uses the same basic recipe, but instead of using cotton jersey, she uses newspapers to sandwich in the paste.
There are many stories of children and adults who sustained thermochemical burns with mustard plasters. Not surprisingly, this has caused mustard plasters to fall out of favor among home remedies. They have largely been replaced by the more child-friendly chest rubs, which are much easier to apply.

2. Finger TE, Kinnamon SC. Matters of taste. The Scientist. December 1, 2011.

7 Natural Home Remedies For Bronchitis

At some point of time or the other, most of us have suffered from a typical cough. However, when this simple cough is accompanied by severe symptoms like breathlessness and phlegm, it results in a respiratory disease known as bronchitis. A cold or flu further weakens the immune system and individuals are then at a higher risk of developing bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis if not treated can lead to asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) which could be life threatening. Like most other diseases, bronchitis too, can be classified into acute or chronic. It is the swelling or inflammation in the bronchial tubes, which carry air between the lungs, mouth and the nose. Those suffering from bronchitis, have great difficulty in inhaling oxygen into the lungs. Inhaling toxic fumes and air that contains dust is a common cause of bronchitis. Inhaling polluted air can be worse for those patients who are living with bronchitis.

Smokers are at a higher risk of developing this disease, in fact, smoking is considered to be the major cause for bronchitis. This is because cigarettes contain innumerable chemicals and when the individuals inhale these chemicals, they irritate the lining of the bronchial tube or lining. This is when chronic bronchitis develops. Smoking causes the cells to produce more mucus than normal causing inflammation of the bronchial tubes. This mucus further has the capability to blanket the whole lining of the bronchi leading to the accumulation of dangerous bacteria causing bronchitis. This worsens the condition of the individual suffering from bronchitis. Symptoms of bronchitis include: Dry cough or with phlegm, shortness of breath, fever and fatigue too.

Home Remedies To Ease The Irritation Caused By Bronchitis

1. Saunth (dry ginger), Kali Mirchi (black pepper) and Pipli (long pepper)

Saunth has anti-inflammatory properties that provide relief in case of swollen bronchial tubes. Kali mirch is very useful to help get rid of nasal congestion. Long pepper or commonly referred to as pipli is known widely for its anti-inflammation properties. Ayurvedic expert B N Sinha suggests mixing all three ingredients in a powdered form, along with honey and drinking the mixture 3 times a day for instant results.
(Also Read: 6 Amazing Black Pepper Benefits: More than Just a Spice)

Kali mirch is very useful to help get rid of nasal congestion.

2. Giloy Juice

Giloy (Tinospora Cordifolia) is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used and advocated in Indian medicine for ages. Giloy has a soothing effect on the lining of the throat and thus helps in providing relief to the inflamed bronchial lining. Drink the juice once in the morning and once in the evening every day for relief.

Drink giloy juice once in the morning and once in the evening every day for relief.

3. Hot Water

Increase your water intake and restrict yourself to drinking hot water only. It will help reduce the swelling in the lungs and sooth the track. Often during a bacterial cold and cough, doctors recommend an increase in the intake of water.

Water helps reduce the swelling in the lungs and sooth the track.

4. Tomato Soup

Apart from being a winter warmer, tomato soup is extremely rich in vitamin C, which helps reduce the excessive formation of mucus during bronchitis. Drink tomato soup at least twice a day. To make tomato soup, add some freshly ground pepper on top and it becomes a sumptuous meal that is healthy, wholesome and extremely good for you.
(Also Read: Tomato Juice Benefits: From Improving Digestion To Boosting Eye Health And More!)

Tomato soup is extremely rich in vitamin C.

5. Garlic Powder and Trikatu
Author Deepak Chopra of The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies suggests making a mixture of 4 parts garlic powder and 1 part trikatu, adding a little honey and taking this twice a day. While garlic is a common ingredient in every kitchen, in the ancient times, it was highly valued for its numerous health benefiting properties, which are still followed in many cultures today.
(Also Read: 7 Surprising Health Benefits Of Garlic)

Gralic is highly valued for its numerous health benefiting properties.

6. Ginger Soup

Ginger has various benefits, especially in Ayurvedic healing. Ginger has properties that are very beneficial for cough. If not the soup of ginger, one can drink the ginger tea, which is equally effective. The ginger powder is extracted from the ginger root, which is dried. It is a fine off-white or slightly brownish powder that has a strong aroma and a pungent flavour.

Ginger has properties that are very beneficial for cough.

7. Mustard Oil Massage

Mustard oil (sarson ka tel) is extracted from mustard seeds (black, brown and white), and is reddish brown or amber in colour. It has been commonly used in North and East India since ancient times, and comes with a bevy of health benefits.
A gentle massage with mustard oil helps provide relief against a stiff chest. Massaging with mustard oil eases the congestion in the lungs.

Massaging with mustard oil eases the congestion in the lungs.

Apart from these simple and easy to find home remedies, BN Sinha advises individuals suffering from bronchitis to avoid curd and other cold products that could aggravate the condition. Keep yourself warm especially in the winter months where people are more prone to bouts of cold and cough. Smoking must be avoided when one is vulnerable to cold and cough allergies.

Taking care of your diet and taking precautionary measures will keep you healthy in case of this disease.


The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Home remedies for bronchitis are actually your best bet when it comes to treatment. Research trials have shown that antibiotics are not effective for the treatment of bronchitis. Despite evidence of ineffectiveness and clear guidelines in the medical world, the prescribing rate for acute bronchitis has actually risen. Research suggests you may not want to bother with cough medicine either.

“Avoidance of antibiotic overuse for acute bronchitis should be a cornerstone of quality health care,” wrote the authors of a 2014 study published in The JAMA Network Journals. Here’s how to get rid of bronchitis, with help from a few natural remedies.

Your goal when you have bronchitis? Thin the phlegm in your chest and get it moving, so you can cough it up and out. The most direct approach to your lungs is the air you breathe, so inhalation treatments are a first resort. Think of them as a steam cleaning for your airways. The right food and drink can also help to keep mucus on the move. Let your boss know you won’t be in to the office if you have any of these signs you should call in sick.

At the same time, you’ll want to get some germ-fighters into your body’s ecosystem so the bugs that cling to that mucus are mightily discouraged. Here’s how to proceed:

4 home remedies for bronchitis that use steam

  • Breathe steam. You can do that just by taking a hot shower, of course. Or pour steaming-hot water into a bowl and lean over it, draping a towel over your head. Inhaling the steam will help loosen the secretions in your lungs.
  • To make the steam treatment even more effective, add a few drops of eucalyptus or pine oil to the water. Eucalyptus helps to soften mucus in obstructed airways and has some antibacterial properties. (If you want to use eucalyptus leaves, simply boil them in a pot of water, then remove from the heat and inhale the steam.) Pine oil acts as an expectorant, so it will help you ‘bring up’ phlegm from the bronchial tubes. Coughing a lot? Get some remedies to deal with a nagging cough that won’t quit.
  • Run a humidifier in your bedroom when you’re sleeping to moisten the air you breathe. But be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning the humidifier. Otherwise, bacteria and mold can accumulate in the works.
  • If you have an ultrasound, cool-mist humidifier, add the contents of a one-pint bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide and a quarter-cup of water. The hydrogen peroxide works to thin mucus and may even help get the infection under control. You can leave the humidifier running day and night so you’re constantly breathing in the vapours.

Natural ways to thin mucus

  • To thin mucus and help you cough it up more easily, drink lots of water, at least eight 250-mL glasses each day. And avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks, which dehydrate your system and make the mucus tougher to dislodge.
  • Eat chile peppers, hot spicy salsa, or dishes prepared with cayenne pepper. Fiery foods don’t just make your nose run — they also thin the mucus in your lungs, helping you cough more productively.
  • Drink mullein tea. Mullein, a traditional folk remedy for respiratory ailments, offers another way to clear mucus from your lungs. It contains saponins, which help loosen phlegm, along with a gelatinous mucilage that soothes raw mucous membranes. Boil a cup of water, remove from the heat, and drop in two teaspoons dried mullein leaves. Let the tea steep for 10 minutes, then strain out the wet leaves and drink the tea. You can drink up to three cups a day.
  • Avoid milk products. Cow’s milk contains lactalbumin, which stimulates the production of mucus in the upper and lower respiratory tract and in the intestines. (Young calves, with four stomachs, need this extra mucus to help protect their intestinal tracts from strong stomach acids…but you don’t!) When humans drink cow’s milk, the result is excessive mucus production.

Supplements to help bronchitis symptoms

  • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), a form of the amino acid cysteine, helps thin and loosen mucus. Take one 600-milligram dose three times daily, between meals, until the bronchitis has cleared up. If you’re treating short-lived bronchitis, continue taking NAC for another few weeks after the cough goes away.
  • Echinacea and astragalus are herbs that strengthen the immune system and help you fight off bacteria and viruses. Take 500 milligrams of either herb four times a day for acute bronchitis or twice daily for chronic bronchitis.
  • R-lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant nutrient that is vital in the repair of inflamed airways. Like other antioxidants such as vitamins E and C, R-lipoic acid contributes to your health by counteracting the effects of harmful molecules called free radicals, which damage cells. Usually your body produces enough lipoic acid on its own, but when there’s inflammation, cells are under stress and need all the help they can get. Take 100 milligrams of R-lipoic acid three times daily with meals and eat foods that are high in antioxidants.
  • A medicinal formula called Arcozon has potent antibacterial and immune-stimulating properties. It contains four herbs that have been traditionally used by healers in the Amazon rainforest: uña de gato (cat’s claw), pau d’arco, suma, and jatoba. You can use it to prevent or treat bronchial infections. Take one teaspoon or four capsules four times daily for short-lived bronchitis or twice daily for chronic bronchitis.

Home remedies for bronchitis prevention

  • To prevent chronic bronchitis, the most essential advice is: Don’t smoke. If you’re a smoker, find out about programs that will help you give it up.
  • If your job exposes you to lots of dust, fumes or pollutants, any of which can contribute to chronic bronchitis—be sure you’re wearing the proper mask or respirator to filter the impurities from the air you breathe. Air pollution can also be a trigger, and it’s especially high in certain Canadian cities.
  • To slash your risk of getting viral bronchitis, wash your hands frequently and keep them away from your face, especially when you’ve been around someone who has a cold. Clean your nose and sinuses with saline nasal spray. Or use a sinus-clearing over-the-counter medication recommended by your pharmacist. It should help prevent allergens and infectious agents from getting into your lungs.
  • Vitamin C helps you fight off respiratory viruses. It works well in conjunction with supplemental flavonoids, also called bioflavonoids. Be sure to eat plenty of foods that are high in vitamin C. As a preventive measure, take up to 2,000 milligrams daily of vitamin C with flavonoids in divided doses. (With higher doses of vitamin C, some people get diarrhea.)

Don’t miss these diseases that doctors can detect through smell.

Natural Treatments for Bronchitis

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil is another natural treatment for bronchitis that can be used to open up inflamed airways. Though eucalyptus oil isn’t mean to be taken internally, you can put 5-10 drops in a hot bath and breathe in the steam to relieve chest congestion. Alternatively, you can mix eucalyptus oil with olive, neem or coconut oil and rub it on your chest and throat for quick relief. Eucalyptus contains cineole, a powerful antiseptic that makes it a good remedy to have around during cold and flu season.

Olive Leaf Extract

Olive leaf extract selectively blocks and prevents viral replication and is one of the most powerful antibiotics known to man. Olive leaf extract treats bronchitis naturally, boosts your immune system, heals inflammation, and treats fatigue. This powerful natural antibiotic has been used to effectively treat herpes infection, chronic candida, shingles, hepatitis, and more.


Allicin is the main compound that gives garlic its powerful antiviral, antibacterial properties. For best results, crush or chop organic garlic fine and mix it into raw honey. Swallow, don’t chew the mixture. Use twice per day until symptoms subside.


Onion is another powerful natural antibiotic you can use to treat your bronchitis. Chop up a bit of organic onion and mix it with raw honey. For added benefit, mix in cayenne pepper and oregano leaves. Swallow, don’t chew the mixture. Use twice per day until symptoms subside.

Raw Honey and Cinnamon

Raw honey is an excellent food remedy for bronchitis. Raw honey contains essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes to heal your body from the inside out. This alkaline-forming food stabilizes your immune system, relieves inflammation, and eliminates the allergies that can contribute to bronchitis.

Adding cinnamon to raw honey turns the mixture into a strong anti-inflammatory bronchitis and allergy treatment. Mixing these two common food ingredients together strengthens your immune system and prevents the development of future cold and flu viruses.


Research has shown that thyme is an effective herbal remedy for bronchitis. According to a German study, cough and mucus production was reduced by over 60% with a combination of thyme and primrose. The best way to use thyme to treat bronchitis is to make tea. Use two teaspoons of fresh thyme and add boiling water. Allow to steep for at least 5 minutes. Sip. Drink twice per day to open airways, decrease cough, and speed healing.

Bronchitis can be difficult to get rid of, especially if you have a chronic pulmonary condition. These natural treatments for bronchitis can have you breathing easier in a matter of a couple of days and keep you from developing more serious health problems in the future.


Bronchitis is one of the most common illnesses in the world, so chances are, you’ve had it at some point. And if you have, you know what a pain its symptoms can be—persistent coughing, heavy congestion, and nasty phlegm, to name a few.

“Acute bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the large airways of the lungs,” says Wassim Labaki, MD, a pulmonologist at the University of Michigan Pulmonary Clinic. It’s usually caused by a viral infection, and aside from coughing, congestion, and sputum, it can also be accompanied by headaches, a sore or itchy throat, fatigue, and muscle aches.


It makes sense, then, why bronchitis is a common diagnosis for those who hit up their doctors once those symptoms present. “Viral upper respiratory infections (bronchitis) account for over 30 million office visits per year,” says Philip Barr, MD, an integrative medicine physician at Duke University.

But the truth is, if you visit your doctor for treatment of your bronchitis, he or she is likely to point you right back to your medicine cabinet at home, since antibiotics don’t help treat viral infections, says Dr. Barr.

However, it’s still a good idea to visit your doc if you’re experiencing bronchitis-like symptoms, since he or she will need to consider other non-viral causes, such as bacteria and non-infectious causes, says Dr. Barr. But chances are, you can treat the symptoms right from the comfort of your own bed. Here, 10 home remedies for bronchitis that will have you feeling better in no time.

Use a humidifier

VicTsing Humidifier and Essential Oil Diffuser

This is especially true if you’re experiencing bronchitis during the dry, colder months. A humidifier helps keep moisture in the air, which will ultimately ease your nasal congestion. “Using a humidifier can be helpful, especially as fall rolls in and we start turning on the drying heat in our homes,” says Dr. Barr. “The drying effect of a home’s heat can make the mucous take longer to clear.”

Want to go double duty? “Running a humidifier with essential oils may help thin mucus and ease coughing,” says Jonathan Parsons, MD, director of the Asthma Center at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Although its effectiveness has yet to be validated through large studies, it could still provide a sense of relief.

Take cough medicine with expectorant

Robitussin Cough + Chest Congestion DM Max

There are two types of cough medicine: cough suppressants, which are used for a dry cough, and expectorants, which are used for a wet cough that brings up mucus, says Dr. Parsons. For something like bronchitis, you’re going to want to find a cough medicine with expectorant (like Mucinex or Robitussin) since that will help “bring up” mucus.

Just keep in mind that a typical cold medicine won’t cure your bronchitis, but it will still definitely help curb the symptoms. “Over-the-counter medicines are simply supportive and help minimize symptoms, but do not make the bronchitis resolve more quickly,” says Dr. Parsons.

Drink lots of fluids

This is one doctors say is key to overcoming bronchitis. “Drinking eight or more glasses of water daily is helpful,” says Dr. Barr. The thought is that by drinking water, you’re able to replace fluids you might’ve lost because of rapid breathing, and it can help treat dehydration and reduce the viscosity of your mucus, according to a review by Cochrane. Just note that there is still a need for randomized, controlled studies to prove the benefits of drinking more fluids, so consult with your doctor before dramatically upping your intake.

Sip hot tea with honey

If your mom ever gave you tea with honey before bed to help ease your cough, she was on the right track. Tea helps you stay hydrated, says Dr. Labaki, and honey has some research backing its benefits for coughs. (Check out these teas that may help soothe a sore throat.)

In one study, children with respiratory infections were given honey before bed, and it significantly improved their ability to sleep while experiencing coughing. Plus, if nothing else, the honey can give your tea a sweet kick.

Harney & Sons Chamomile Herbal Tea Pukka Herbs Organic Three Ginger Herbal Tea Bigelow Classic Green Tea Bags Traditional Medicinals Organic Peppermint Herbal Leaf Tea

Get plenty of sleep

Caiaimage/Paul BradburyGetty Images

Sleep is core to getting over any illness, bronchitis included. As for the amount? “At least seven to eight hours a day,” says Dr. Labaki.

A lack of sleep—in other words, sleeping less than 5 hours per night—has been associated with an increased likelihood of developing a respiratory infection, according to a 2016 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, potentially due to the effect inadequate sleep has on your immune system. Notably, there was no association with those who slept more than 9 hours a night, the researchers found.

The bottom line? If you’re experiencing bronchitis, get to bed! And if you want to sleep even more soundly, run a humidifier during the night, suggests Dr. Barr.

Load up on vitamin C

Supplements are broken up into three categories: vitamins, minerals, and herbs, says Dr. Barr. The one vitamin that seems to show the most promise? Vitamin C. “Many research trials have been done and at least half show benefit,” says Dr. Barr.

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When you’re not felling well, you can start by supplementing up to 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day, which is the tolerable upper intake level for most adults. Any more than that won’t necessarily be harmful, but you may experience some side effects like nausea, diarrhea, or constipation—not ideal if you’re already feeling sick.

However, Dr. Barr says that taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C three times daily yields effective results when it comes to reducing symptoms, so check in with your doc if you want to try and amp up your dosage. If you feel any side effects, just dial it back.

You can also try accompanying that vitamin C with vitamin D-3. “Vitamin D-3 has immune-enhancing qualities,” says Dr. Barr, but note that those qualities are usually more affiliated with influenza as opposed to a common cold or an illness like bronchitis. Consult with your doctor about dosage, as it can from 2,000 to 5,000 international units (IUs) per day.

NOW Foods Vitamin C-1000 Tablets Emergen-C Super Orange Vitamin C Fizzy Drink Mix Nature Made Vitamin D3 5000 IU Softgels NatureWise Vitamin D3 5,000 IU Softgels

Zap it with zinc

Certain minerals can also be helpful in curbing your bronchitis symptoms. “The main beneficial mineral is zinc, taken as zinc gluconate 15 to 25 milligrams daily,” says Dr. Barr. You can easily find that amount in two Cold-Eeze Lozenges.

Other forms of zinc have also shown promise. In one 2016 study, researchers found that among 100 children with acute bronchitis, nearly all of those who took oral zinc sulphate made a fully recovery within 72 hours of beginning their treatment compared to kids who simply took a placebo.

⚠️ Note: You should always check in with your doctor before trying a new supplement, especially if you are taking prescription medications.

Look into certain herbs

Traditional Medicinals Organic Echinacea Tea

“Many herbs have been reported to provide benefit,” says Dr. Barr. “Most significantly, with supportive research, has been Echinacea as a tincture, tea, or capsule.” Just make sure you’re consuming the herbs as directed on the package.

Therapeutic medicinal mushrooms may also be a good route—especially Basidiomycete mycelia—but chat with your doctor before using, as its validation is still in the works. “The research is just beginning to be carried out for viruses,” says Dr. Barr.

Slurp chicken soup

Westend61Getty Images

Mom was right again! Chicken soup actually can help you get rid of those pesky bronchitis symptoms. “Chicken soup has actually been researched and shows some benefit,” says Dr. Barr. “I would recommend free-range, organically fed poultry.”

In fact, one study found that chicken soup might contain some substances that help tamp down inflammation, which could help ease the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

Do light exercise

It might sound counterintuitive—especially if you’re super tired and coughing constantly—but light exercise can be helpful in combating bronchitis. Just make sure you’re not doing anything super strenuous, like training for a marathon. “Keeping up a light but regular exercise regimen is helpful,” says Dr. Barr. That means more gentle activities, like yoga, slower pilates, or lifting lighter weights. Even getting up and walking your dog can help you get some fresh air.

Just make sure that if you’re not feeling it those first few days of being sick, you let yourself rest. “The initial muscle and joint pain, in addition to the generalized malaise and fatigue, usually make it hard to exercise during the first couple of days,” says Dr. Labaki. So take it easy if you need to, and then gradually get back in an exercise routine.

Inhale vapors from a steaming pan

Vicks VapoRub Ointment

So you’ve already made that chicken soup, and now you have some steaming kitchen tools in your purview. Possibly the easiest home remedy for bronchitis? Inhale those vapors to help loosen up mucus and suppress a cough.

Just be careful not to burn yourself, says Dr. Barr. Simply stand above the pot or kettle, and place a light towel over your head to create a bit of a tent. Inhale the steam until it completely evaporates.

Similar to a humidifier, there might also be a benefit of adding aromatherapy to those vapors, such as eucalyptus oil, but the research is still lagging. If you have medicated VapoRub at your disposal, you can also try adding a teaspoon of that into a pot of clean boiling water. Let it cool for a minute, and continue with inhaling the steam, Woodson Merrell, MD, author of The Detox Prescription .

When should you go to a doctor?

Bronchitis requires professional medical attention when:

  • Your cough is getting worse after a week
  • You have a fever or are coughing up blood
  • You are older and get a hacking cough on top of another illness
  • You are short of breath and also have a very profuse cough
  • You have heart or lung disease

The bottom line: Bronchitis can definitely be a pain of an illness, but certain home remedies can help ease the symptoms. Just make sure you aren’t putting others at risk when you’re still sick. “Protect others by coughing into your elbow, staying home from work, and washing your hands,” says Dr. Barr.

Brielle Gregory Brielle Gregory previously worked at Men’s Health magazine, where she reported, edited, and fact checked all things health, nutrition, and weight loss related; she currently spends her time digging into similar topics as a freelancer writer and editor.

Home Remedies for Bronchitis

Table of Contents

Bronchitis is an infection of the lungs. When the main airways or bronchial tubes become inflamed due to an infection, the inner lining swells and produces extra mucus, triggering coughs as the body attempts to clear the passageways. In many cases, bronchitis is caused by a virus, meaning antibiotics are ineffective and the best treatment is lots of rest, plenty of fluids and healthy meals. While your body recovers, natural remedies for bronchitis can be helpful in alleviating symptoms. Read more to understand how these home remedies work, their limitations and when to contact your doctor for more information.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Bronchitis

Bronchitis is most often caused by a viral illness, such as the common cold. On rare occasions it can be caused by bacterial infections or by lung irritants such as chemical fumes or smoking. The symptoms may include:

  • Chest discomfort – You may feel pressure in your chest in general or certain points as your body works to clear the mucus.
  • Cough – The cough can range in frequency and severity, and will likely bring up green, yellow, clear or white mucus.
  • Shortness of breath – This is caused by the narrowing of the airways and feeling of tightness in your chest. Bronchitis can even cause a wheezing as you breathe.
  • Fatigue – As your body works to fight off the infection, you may feel extremely tired at different points in the day.
  • Nasal congestion – Your nasal passages may be similarly inflamed or irritated as your lungs, which results in a runny nose.
  • Sore throat – Frequent coughing and mucus may irritate the throat.
  • Low fever and chills – A fever is your body’s natural response to an infection as it activates the immune system. However, high and prolonged fever requires immediate medical attention.

Bronchitis is contagious if caused by a viral illnesses or bacterial infection. Since most cases are, it is important to take necessary precautions to not get others sick. If the bronchitis is caused by environmental factors and not an infection, then the bronchitis is not contagious.

Diagnosing and Treating Bronchitis

Bronchitis can be diagnosed by your primary care physician or any general practitioner by completing a physical exam and understanding your symptoms. Depending on the additional symptoms you have, the doctor may also do a series of other tests such as a chest x-ray, Lung function test, sensor test for oxygen, mucus test for whooping cough or a blood test. This is to determine that your symptoms are not caused by any other lung infection or illness. Since bronchitis can result in shortness of breath and tightness in your chest it may be important for your doctor to check for any other serious conditions.

In most cases, bronchitis goes away on its own after a couple of weeks, with the most severe symptoms lessening after the first few days. Since most cases are caused by viral infections, antibiotics for bronchitis are not needed. Thus, the treatment for bronchitis is simply rest, drink water and eat healthy meals. If it is a rare case of bronchitis caused by bacteria a doctor can prescribe antibiotics. The most likely choices for antibiotics are amoxicillin and doxycycline with erythromycin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. If you have asthma or allergies and contract bronchitis, a doctor may also prescribe an inhaler to counteract the narrowing of the airways and help shortness of breath.

Talk to a doctor before using cough medicine. Cough medicine allows the body to be less irritated by mucus, but this inhibits the body from coughing the mucus and getting it out of your system. Over-the-counter pain medication such as aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help with the pain and any feverish symptoms.

The treatment for bronchitis that is recurring is similar to acute cases. There is no cure for chronic bronchitis other than addressing the underlying causes, most commonly smoking and other environmental factors. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe a bronchodilator inhaler, which helps clear airways, or corticosteroids, which contain steroid hormones to decrease inflammation in the lungs. If damage to the lungs is too great, oxygen therapy may be necessary to regulate oxygen intake.

Bronchitis Home Remedies: Immune System Boost

The average person reports symptoms for 10 to 14 days and misses an average of 2 to 3 days of work. Since most cases of bronchitis are caused by viral illnesses that do not respond to antibiotics, here are some ways to boost your immune system as your body recovers:

  • Sleep a lot – Rest allows the body to recuperate and ensure minimal exposure to irritants in the air. It is arguably the best home remedy for bronchitis.
  • Stay hydrated – Some doctors recommend as many as 12 glasses of water a day to help keep your immune system working and thin out the mucus.
  • Eat healthy meals with garlic or sesame seeds – There is documented research to suggest that garlic can help strengthen the immune system with some studies even suggesting a link in reducing the risk of colon and stomach cancers. Sesame seeds have been shown in some studies to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that seem to boost the immune system.

Bronchitis Home Remedies: Symptom Relief

For those searching for a bronchitis home remedy, there are ways to help with symptom relief such as:

  • Avoid dairy products – Dairy products can make mucus thicker. Contrary to popular belief, it does not make you produce more mucus.
  • Gargle warm saltwater – If you have a sore throat, gargling with warm salt water can help relieve pain associated with an inflamed throat. A recommended amount is 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon of salt for an 8-ounce glass of warm water.
  • Drink ginger, lemon, or licorice tea with honey – Ginger, lemon and honey have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. There is some documented evidence to support that lemon can help reduce inflammation and improve blood vessel function. While not a cure-all, some studies have shown honey can treat infections and act as cough suppression. Similarly, licorice has some research to suggest it can decrease swelling, coughing or mucus secretions.
  • Take oregano oil – Surprisingly, the same oregano oil to spice delicious meals can be helpful as a medicine. Taking a few drops by the mouth can be helpful with your cough.
  • Take hot showers –The steam can help loosen the mucus and clear the lungs. You can also use a humidifier.
  • Add turmeric – While there is conflicting evidence, there is some research to suggest that the turmeric can help fight infection and inflammation. You can add small amounts, about one teaspoon, to a glass of hot tea or milk. Note – Avoid turmeric if you have gallstones, stomach ulcers, blood thinning issues or bile passage obstruction, as it can worsen the effects.

Essential Oils for Bronchitis

Essential oils are a term that describes a variety of different oils, such as lavender and tea tree oil, used in aromatherapy or applied topically on the body. While it is not a substitute for standard medical treatment, it has been shown to have some benefits across different illnesses with few negative side effects if used as directed. The most documented research with aromatherapy and essential oils is to help patients with anxiety and stress to boost their overall quality of life, especially for those with chronic conditions. There is some evidence to support that it could have spillover benefits of improving immune system responses. As with any medical or home remedy, it is important to watch out for allergic reactions and consult your doctor first before using with young children or if you are pregnant. Here are a few essential oils for bronchitis and their suggested uses:

  • Breathe in steam with eucalyptus oil – Eucalyptus oil can help loosen phlegm. You can add drops of the oil to boiling water and breathe in the steam. Note – Do not ingest unless recommended by your doctor and never give or apply to the skin of a child younger than 2 as it is toxic.
  • Take a bath with tea tree oil – While there is not conclusive scientific evidence of the benefits, some patients report that tea tree oil helps with bronchial congestion, inflammation or relieving a cough.
  • Use a diffuser or smell certain essential oils – Lavender is a commonly suggested oil to help promote relaxation. Orange, lemon, bergamot, rose or sandalwood are also suggested to lower stress and anxiety.

How Long Does Bronchitis Last?

Acute bronchitis usually forms three to four days following a viral illness, like a cold or flu. It may begin with a dry cough and then a cough with mucus after a few days. Other symptoms usually lessen after the three to four days. The cough, which is the most common and persistent symptom of bronchitis, usually lasts for 2-3 weeks. However, 50% of patients report the cough lasting for more than 3 weeks and 25% of patients report it lasting more than 1 month.

Chronic bronchitis results in a similar cough with mucus that lasts for most days in a month, for three months or more over two consecutive years. For those with chronic bronchitis, how long it lasts depends on working with a doctor on your treatment plan. Since most cases of chronic bronchitis are caused by smoking or constant exposure to a harsh environment, removing the person from that environment can make it possible to prevent future flare-ups. How chronic bronchitis manifests itself depends on the patient, conditions, length of exposure and many other factors.

When to Contact a Doctor

If you are experiencing bronchitis, it is very important to give your body ample rest, water and healthy meals to get better. However, this may not be enough. It is important to call your doctor if you:

  • Cough blood
  • Cough thick, dark mucus
  • Cannot sleep due to coughing
  • Cough for longer than 3 weeks
  • Lose weight suddenly
  • Have a high fever
  • Have trouble breathing

Should any of these symptoms arise consider making an appointment with your primary care physician or seeing an urgent care to confirm the diagnosis and discuss a treatment plan.

Ten home remedies for bronchitis

Some people find the following home remedies and lifestyle changes helpful for bronchitis:

1. Getting plenty of rest

Share on PinterestA good night’s sleep can repair tissue damage, increase energy levels, and assist recovery from bronchitis.

One of the main symptoms of bronchitis is fatigue. The infection and the persistent cough that comes with it can cause extreme tiredness.

Research has shown that sleeping may boost the immune system and aid recovery from infection.

Sleep helps the body to repair tissue damage and generate new tissue, release important hormones, and renew energy.

To assist sleeping, use more pillows to raise the head. This sleeping position can help to soothe breathing and clear mucus from the chest.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per day and children around 10-12 hours per day. Getting enough sleep will help fight infection and assist recovery from bronchitis.

2. Drinking enough fluid

Bronchitis is a lower respiratory tract infection of the airways and lungs. Doctors often advise people with respiratory infections to increase their fluid intake.

People with bronchitis can become dehydrated due to increased fluid loss from fever, rapid breathing, runny nose, vomiting, and diarrhea. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, confusion, headache, and more discomfort in the mouth and throat.

Drinking enough fluid with bronchitis can help:

  • avoid dehydration
  • reduce mucus thickness
  • loosen nasal mucus
  • moisten the throat

Fluid can include water, juice, herbal tea, soup, and the water in foods.

However, research has not proved or disproved the recommendation to increase fluids for respiratory infections, such as bronchitis. However, hydration does compensate for lost fluid.

3. Using a humidifier

Humidifiers increase moisture levels in a room by emitting water vapor or steam.

Low humidity and cold temperatures have been connected with an increase in respiratory tract infections. Low humidity can also irritate nasal passages and the throat, and cause itchy eyes and dry skin.

Inhaling heated and humidified air may help loosen mucus and encourage it to drain away.

Various humidifiers are available to purchase online.

People using a humidifier should make sure the unit is properly maintained and humidity levels are monitored. Dirty humidifiers are a breeding ground for mold or bacteria. Too high humidity can cause respiratory problems as well as triggering allergy and asthma flare-ups.

People without a humidifier can increase water in the air by boiling it on the stove for 5 minutes every hour. They can also add a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oils and hang their head over the bowl or pan of boiling water for a few minutes to relieve symptoms. Placing a towel over the head helps keep in moisture.

4. Quitting smoking

Smoking is the leading cause of chronic bronchitis. Stopping smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke may improve a person’s quality of life.

Smoking damages the bronchial tubes and breaks down the body’s defense against infection. Inhaling smoke can trigger severe fits of coughing if a person has bronchitis.

Quitting smoking altogether or cutting down limits damage to the bronchial tubes and helps faster healing. A person who quits smoking is less likely to get acute bronchitis in the future.

People should also stay away from other irritants that may trigger bronchitis, such as dust, chemicals in household products, and air pollution. Filters in air conditioning and heating systems should be changed as recommended by manufacturers.

5. Following a healthful diet

To alleviate symptoms of bronchitis and manage the condition, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend lifestyle changes that include following a healthful diet.

A healthful diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as well as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. It also includes fat-free or low-fat dairy products and limits saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.

Eating a healthful diet keeps a person’s immune system working. Not eating a balanced diet can lead to a person’s immune functions being impaired. This damage is caused by an insufficient intake of energy and macronutrients, as well as a lack of specific micronutrients.

6. Treating body aches and pains

Taking over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can help relieve symptoms of bronchitis, such as fever, headache, and aches and pains.

Aspirin should not be given to children or teenagers, unless advised by a doctor, due to the associated risk of Reye’s syndrome.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can be hazardous for people with asthma and should be avoided.

7. Avoiding over-the-counter cough suppressants

Share on PinterestHoney and lemon tea may be equally as effective as over-the-counter cough medicines in reducing a dry cough.

There are two main types of over-the-counter cough medicines:

  • Cough suppressants, which reduce a dry cough by blocking the coughing reflex.
  • Cough expectorants, which help thin and bring up mucus from a wet cough and lubricate the respiratory tract.

It is not recommended that people use cough suppressants for a cough that brings up mucus. When the lining of the bronchial tubes is inflamed by irritants, excess mucus is produced, causing frequent coughing. Coughing up the mucus helps to remove the irritants from the lungs and airways.

A 2014 Cochrane review found no good evidence for or against the effectiveness of over-the-counter cough medicines.

There is little evidence to suggest that cough medicines are any more effective than home remedies. A home remedy of honey and lemon is likely to have the same outcome.

It is not recommended to give infants up to 12 months of age honey due to the risk of infant botulism.

8. Using pursed-lip breathing

People with chronic bronchitis often breathe fast. A breathing method called pursed-lip breathing may help slow down the breathing pace and control shortness of breath.

The method works by reducing how often a breath is taken, which keeps the airways open for a longer period. Since pursed-lip breathing lets more air flow in and out of the lungs, it allows the person to be more physically active.

To do pursed-lip breathing, a person should first take a breath in through the nostrils for two counts. They should then breathe out slowly and gently through slightly pursed lips, as if going to kiss someone, while counting to four.

9. Soothing a sore throat

A common symptom of bronchitis is a sore throat. There are many ways to soothe a sore throat including:

  • gargling saltwater
  • drinking cool or warm fluids
  • eating cool and soft foods
  • sucking lozenges, hard candy, ice cubes, or ice pops. Lozenges can be purchased in pharmacies or online.
  • using over-the-counter lozenges and sprays, which can be purchased online.
  • taking over-the-counter pain relievers

Caregivers should not give children under 4 years anything small and hard to suck due to the risk of choking.

10. Taking nutrition and dietary supplements

Share on PinterestProbiotics may replenish helpful bacteria in the digestive system.

There is some evidence that supplements may benefit people with bronchitis. People should get advice from a healthcare provider when considering supplements. Some supplements interact with medicines or have side effects.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a derivative of the amino acid L-cysteine. One review found that NAC could help prevent sudden worsening of chronic bronchitis symptoms.

Probiotics are live microorganisms. When consumed as food or supplements, they are thought to maintain or restore beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.

Probiotics may regulate the immune system. Probiotics have been shown to be better than placebo in preventing respiratory tract infections and may have a beneficial effect on the duration and severity of symptoms in acute bronchitis.

Different probiotic supplements are available to purchase in health food stores and online.

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