When it comes to taking herbs as a form of treatment for illness, it seems the mainstream belief is that they are not as effective and not worth taking. While effectiveness of each herb and their use has not been studied deeply to determine how effective it can be across the population, the same could be said for most pharmaceutical drugs. Much of the time, pharmaceutical drugs attempt to mimic a compound that occurs naturally in nature (herbs) but often bring the risk of side effects.
Safety is one of the most critical areas of review among st herbs and drugs. So far, zero deaths have been reported due to the use and consumption of herbs. However, pharmaceutical drugs and physician prescribed medications kill approximately one million Americans each year. While it is important to note that herbal medicines can be lethal in extreme doses, it appears their safety is much greater than that of pharmaceutical drugs. 
Interestingly, pharmaceutical drugs are actually adding to the world-wide issue of declining health due to their side effects and encouragement of viral resistance. Antibiotics in particular are adding to the wave of increased viral strength when it comes to certain infections.  Herbs on the other hand can be a useful tool in fighting infections that have turned into super bugs due to the overuse of antibiotics.
It is always useful to perform as much research as possible, or as you see fit, when it comes to both pharmaceutical drugs and herbs prior to taking them. Just as we would be so skeptical about herbs, we should be just as skeptical about pharmaceutical drugs. Contrary to popular belief, the UN-popularity of herbs in western culture is due to incrustation that comes from pharmaceutical companies and those to can benefit from the sale of pharmaceutical drugs. Herbs cannot be patented and owned, only synthetic drugs can which is why many pharma companies operate the way they do. Seek out the assistance of a Naturopathic doctor before you use herbs.
Below is a list of herbs that can not only boost lung and respiratory health but can also repair it. Herb information is courtesy of John Summery who is nutritionist, herpetologist, and homeopathic practitioner.
1. Licorice Root
Licorice is one of the more widely consumed herbs in the world. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it occurs in more formulas than any other single herb because it is thought to harmonize the action of all other herbs. Licorice is very soothing and softens the mucous membranes of the throat and especially the lungs and stomach and at the same time cleanses any inflamed mucous membrane that needs immune system support . It reduces the irritation in the throat and yet has an expectorant action. It is the saponins (detergent-like action) that loosen the phlegm in the respiratory tract so that the body can expel the mucus. Compounds within this root help relieve bronchial spasms and block the free radical cells that produce the inflammation and tightening of the air ways. The compounds also have antibacterial and antiviral effects to them as well which helps fight off viral and bacterial strains in the body that can cause lung infections. Glycerine and flavonoids can even help prevent lung cancer cells from forming which means they can even prevent lung cancer.
2. Colts foot
Colts foot has been traditionally used by Native Americans for thousands of years to strengthen the lungs. It clears out excess mucus from the lungs and bronchial tubes. It soothes the mucus membranes in the lungs, and has been shown in research to assist with asthma, coughs, bronchitis, and other lung ailments. Colts foot is available in dried form for tea or as an alcohol extract known as a tincture.
The toxic breakdown of therapeutic compounds in cannabis from burning the plant are totally avoided with vaporization. Extraction and inhaling cannabis essential oils of the unprocessed plant affords significant mitigation of irritation to the oral cavity that comes from smoking. Cannabis is perhaps one of the most effective anti-cancer plants in the world shown in study after study to stimulate cannabinoid receptor activation in specific genes and mediate the anti-invasive effect of cannabis. Vaporizing cannabis allows the active ingredients to stimulate the body’s natural immune response and significantly reduces the ability of infections to spread. Vaporizing cannabis (especially with very high amounts of cannabinoids) opens up airways and sinuses, acting as a bronchodilator. It is even a proven method to treat and reverse asthma.
4. OSHA Root
OSHA is a herb native to the Rocky Mountain area and has historically been used by the Native Americans for respiratory support. The roots of the plant contain camphor and other compounds which make it one of the best lung-support herbs in America. One of the main benefits of OSHA root is that it helps increase circulation to the lungs, which makes it easier to take deep breaths. Also, when seasonal sensitivities flare up your sinuses, OSHA rootm, which is not an actual antihistamine, does produce a similar effect and may be help calm respiratory irritation.
Thyme is very powerful in the fight against chest congestion. It produces powerful antiseptic essential oils which are classified as naturally antibiotic and anti-fungal. Thyme is well known to zap acne more so than expensive prescription creams, gels and lotions. Thyme tea has the power to chase away and eliminate bacteria and viruses so whether your infection is based on either, it will work. Thyme has been used as a lung remedy consumed since antiquity and is used extensively today to prevent and treat respiratory tract infections and bacterial infection pneumonia.
Although oregano contains the vitamins and nutrients required by the immune system, its primary benefits are owed to its carvacrol and rosmarinic acid content. Both compounds are natural decongestants and histamine reducers that have direct, positive benefits on the respiratory tract and nasal passage airflow. Oil of oregano fights off the dangerous bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, better than the most common antibiotic treatments. Oregano has so many health benefits that a bottle of organic oregano oil should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet.
Did you know that horses given lobelia are able to breathe more deeply? Its benefits are not limited to equestrians. It has been used as “asthmatic” in Appalachian folk medicine. Lobelia, by some accounts, is thought to be one of the most valuable herbal remedies in existence. Extracts of Lobelia inflate contain lobe line, which showed positive effects in the treatment of multi drug-resistant tumor cells. Lobelia contains an alkaloid known as lobe line, which thins mucus, breaks up congestion. Additionally, lobelia stimulates the adrenal glands to release epinephrine, in effect, this relaxes the airways and allows for easier breathing. Also, because lobelia helps to relax smooth muscles, it is included in many cough and cold remedies. Lobelia should be part of everyone’s respiratory support protocol!
Elecampane has been used by Native Americans for many years to clear out excess mucus that impairs lung function. It is known as a natural antibacterial agent for the lungs, helping to lessen infection particularly for people who are prone to lung infections like bronchitis. Herbal practitioners often recommend one teaspoon of the herb per cup of boiling water, drunk three times daily for two to three weeks. Elecampane is also available in tincture format for ease.
Native to Australia, eucalyptus isn’t just for Koala bears! Aborigines, Germans, and Americans have all used the refreshing aroma of eucalyptus to promote respiratory health and soothe throat irritation. Eucalyptus is a common ingredient in cough lozenges and syrups and its effectiveness is due to a compound called cine-ole. Cine-ole has numerous benefits — it’s an expectorant, can ease a cough, fights congestion, and soothes irritated sinus passages. As an added bonus, because eucalyptus contains antioxidants, it supports the immune system during a cold or other illness.
Both the flowers and the leaves of the mullein plant are used to make an herbal extract that helps strengthen the lungs. Mullein is used by herbal practitioners to clear excess mucus from the lungs, cleanse the bronchial tubes, and reduce inflammation that is present in the respiratory tract. A tea can be made from one teaspoon of the dried herb to one cup of boiled water. Alternatively, you can take a tincture form of this herb.
11. Lung wort
Lung wort is a tree-growing lichen that actually resembles lung tissue in appearance. However, this natural remedy doesn’t just look the part. As early as the 1600′s, lung wort has been used to promote lung and respiratory health and clear congestion. Pulmonary selections come in all kinds so seek a herpetologist for direction. Lung wort also contains compounds that are powerfully effective against harmful organisms that affect respiratory health.
Chaparral, a plant native to the Southwest, has been appreciated by the Native Americans for lung detoxification and respiratory support. Chaparral contains powerful antioxidants that resist irritation and NDGA which is known to fight histamine response. NDGA inhibits aerobic and anaerobic electrolysis (the energy-producing ability) of cancer cells. Chaparral is also a herb that fights harmful organisms. The benefits of chaparral are mostly available in a tincture extraction but chaparral tea may support respiratory problems by encouraging an expectorant action to clear airways of mucus.
Sage’s textured leaves give off a heady aroma, which arises from sage’s essential oils. These oils are the source of the many benefits of sage tea for lung problems and common respiratory ailments. Sage tea is a traditional treatment for sore throats and coughs. The rich aromatic properties arising from sage’s volatile oils of thujone, camphor, terpene and salve can be put to use by inhaling sage tea’s vapors to dispel lung disorders and sinusitis. Alternatively, brew a strong pot of sage tea and place it into a bowl or a vaporizer.
Peppermint, and peppermint oil, contains menthol — a soothing ingredient known to relax the smooth muscles of the respiratory tract and promote free breathing. Dried peppermint typically contains menthol, menthone, methyl acetate, mentholated and cine. Peppermint oil also contains small amounts of many additional compounds including limonene, pule gone, chlorophyll and pinene. Paired with the antihistamine effect of peppermint, menthol is a fantastic decongestant. Many people use therapeutic chest balms and other inhalants that contain menthol to help break up congestion. Additionally, peppermint is an antioxidant and fights harmful organisms.
15. Plantain Leaf
With fruit that is similar in appearance to a banana, plantain leaf has been used for hundreds of years to ease cough and soothe irritated mucous membranes. Many of its active constituents show antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as being anti-inflammatory and antitoxin. Clinical trials have found it favorable against cough, cold, and lung irritation. Plantain leaf has an added bonus in that it may help relieve a dry cough by spawning mucus production in the lungs.
You may think that air pollution is something that doesn’t really affect you. However, a sad truth of modern life is that practically all countries and societies on Earth are now under threat from this invisible menace. In 2016, the World Health Organization found that 92% of the world’s population is breathing in bad air. Tiny toxic particles which can penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system are now responsible for more than 6 million deaths per year.
People with sensitive or compromised respiratory systems react badly to inhaling pollutants and exhibit immediate symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and weepy eyes. Research undertaken by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has found that air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms. A recent study showed that sufferers were 40% more likely to experience acute asthma episodes on high pollution summer days. Others with more robust respiratory systems may ultimately experience reduced lung function with long-term exposure to pollutants.
Why use herbal remedies?
Mother nature has thankfully and thoughtfully provided us fossil fuel burning Earthlings with a whole host of plants, which can help mitigate the negative effects that air pollution has on the human body. In fact, most herbs that are promoted for their health benefits today have been used in home remedies for centuries. Herbs and medicines created with herbal compounds can benefit pollution sufferers by:
If you are pregnant, nursing, on prescription medicine, have a weak respiratory system or are a sensible human being with access to a doctor, you should always consult a medical professional before using herbal remedies. That said, here are just a few powerful plants that can help you breath easier on bad pollution days.
6 HERBS to PROTECT the LUNGS
Especially with all the deep sadness on what is going on in California, the Amazon and Australia, the necessity to write on the herbs that heal our lungs is vital. My heart is humbled and heavy with what is happening with the world at large, and seeing these fires affect so many friends and community members, it really shook my core on how precious and vulnerable life can be. Below are several herbs that are easy to find in most markets and herbs stores, that can really help you cope with environmental toxicity, and support you emotionally.
The Lungs are the organs of respiration, responsible for supplying oxygenated blood to every organ of the body and eliminating the waste matter from the cells through our expiration.
Our lungs are always at work. At every moment of the day they’re cleansing the air, delivering oxygen to the cells, and energizing the body with life. They are constantly filtering, protecting, and transforming the external world into a refined and perfected air, free from pollutants, and environmental irritants. If we don’t provide maintenance to our precious filters, they stop working well, and allowing irritants to pass through easily into the body. In today’s world its pretty impossible to evade toxins altogether through our air channels. Which just places a greater importance on keeping our lungs happy with the right diet and herbs before an issue manifests itself. Many people don’t tend to pay attention to the lungs unless they have to, yet its vital to keep them strong with the right herbs, diet, breath work and exercise to feed the body and mind oxygen rich nourishment.
Psycho – Emotional Aspects of the Lungs
The word used for breathing-in is “inspiration,” which is the main function of the Lung, both physically and spiritually. To be properly “inspired,” we must create space by getting the old stale air out, along with old, preconceived notions of reality. In emotional and spiritual terms, the Lungs rule our processing of grief and trauma, and can be greatly detrimented by too much worry and sadness. Lungs balance the ability to yield and demand, give and take, hold on and let go. When the Lung (Metal) energy is out of balance, order and discipline are rigidly maintained, the emotions are kept under tight control, rules and routines become inflexible, and the body begins to stiffen up. Physically we are more prone to bronchial infections and sinusitis. Our allergies are amplified and issues like asthma and heaviness of the chest can appear.
There are quite a few lung tonics out there that really help on a long term level, as well as select others that help with acute conditions — physically and energetically. The good news is that nature has provided us with a variety of herbs that provide medicinal constituents that support the entire respiratory system.
6 Lung Protective Herbs
Perhaps the number one Lung Tonic commonly used Chinese herbs for strengthening and tonifying Qi (our energetic system) and immune system. In Chinese Medicine, the lungs and the colon make up the majority of the immune system, hence its immune enhancing properties. Astragalus works by building up the Wei Qi (immune defenses) and is great for colds, the flu, any difficulty breathing (such as asthma).
2. OSHA Root.
One of Rocky mountain’s greatest medicines. OSHA supports the thinning and expelling of mucus, which is very appropriate for dry, hacking coughs. It increases oxygenation in the lungs, acts as a diaphragmatic, which causes sweating and helps to break a fever. This aids in the elimination of toxins which is especially useful in the first phase of an infection.
One of the greatest tonic herbs on earth. It assists the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys and blood. Recognized as a medicinal mushroom for over 2000 years, and its powerful effects have been documented in ancient scripts and in modern scientific articles for its ability in promoting health and longevity. Along with many functions, its known to particularly strengthen the respiratory and immune system.
(easy to find in the woods!) An infusion of mullein is a useful remedy for dry, irritated lung conditions or a dry, raspy throat. The leaf encourages secretions in dry mucus membranes.
5. Wild Cherry.
(easy to find in the woods!) Wild cherry bark is a respiratory sedative and antitussive agent. It can be very helpful in alleviating rapid or shallow breathing that results from asthma or a bronchial infection. It helps to relax and strengthen the respiratory system in cases of infection, and is often used in cough syrup and other cough formulas.
6. Elecampane Root.
(easy to find in the woods!) Elecampane can be used as a respiratory tonic and can also help to speed the recovery process for lingering lung infections. It is specific for respiratory conditions with excessive bronchial secretions, such as bronchitis, and for irritation of the trachea and bronchi that results in persistent and irritable coughing. Elecampane has a soothing action, but also acts to reduce excess mucous.
Your respiratory system is constantly working. All day, every day, it is the vehicle for oxygen to enter your body. Unfortunately, it can also be an entry point for pollutants, irritants, dust, mold, fungus, harmful organisms, and other toxins. The constant exposure to impurities can take its toll.
Fortunately, whether you’re experiencing the effects of inhaling toxins, or simply want to ensure your lungs are always at peak performance, nature has provided a number of herbs and botanicals that provide deep nutrition for the respiratory system.
How Are Herbs Beneficial for the Respiratory System?
Herbs that support lung health typically do so by offering one or more of the following benefits:
- They may be an expectorant that helps break up and expel chest congestion.
- Soothe irritated nasal passages and airways.
- Relax the muscles near the upper respiratory system to quell a cough.
- Calm the release of histamines.
- Fight the harmful organisms that can produce upper respiratory concerns.
- They may be a source of antioxidants and reduce oxidative damage and redness.
9 Best Herbs for Lung Cleansing & Respiratory Health
Native to Australia, eucalyptus isn’t just for Koalas! Aborigines, Germans, and Americans have all used the refreshing aroma of eucalyptus to promote respiratory health and soothe throat irritation.
Eucalyptus is a common ingredient in cough lozenges and syrups and its effectiveness is due to a compound called cine-ole. Cine-ole has numerous benefits — it’s an expectorant, can ease a cough, fights congestion, and soothes irritated sinus passages. As a bonus, because eucalyptus contains antioxidants, it supports the immune system during a cold or other illness.
2. Lung wort
Lung wort is a flowering rhizomes perennial herb that resembles lung tissue in appearance. However, this natural remedy doesn’t just look the part. As early as the 1600s, lung wort has been used to promote lung and respiratory health and clear congestion. Lung wort also contains compounds that are powerfully effective against harmful organisms that affect respiratory health.
Although oregano contains the vitamins and nutrients required by the immune system, its primary benefits are due to its carvacrol and rosmarinic acid content. Both compounds are natural decongestants and histamine reducers that have direct, positive benefits on the respiratory tract and nasal passage airflow. Oregano has so many health benefits that the oil should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet.
I recommend you check out this article to learn all the uses for organic oregano oil. Oregano oil also blends well with other healthful oils. If you’d like a premium, concentrated blend of organic oregano oil, organic peppermint, and cayenne oil in an organic extra virgin olive oil base with no artificial, chemical or toxic byproducts, then I recommend Oregatrex™. With a minimum 80 percent carvacrol content, Oregatrex can help boost your immune system and promote good health.
4. Plantain Leaf
The plantain leaf (Plant ago major) has been used for hundreds of years to ease cough and soothe irritated mucous membranes. Clinical trials have found it favorable against cough, cold, and lung irritation. Plantain leaf has a bonus in that it may help relieve a dry cough by spawning mucus production in the lungs. Good stuff!
The Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and even Indian Ayurvedic medicine practitioners have cited campanile for respiratory support and, since the 1800s, people have made lozenges and cough drops from empanel root.
The reason? Elecampane has a relaxing effect on smooth tracheal muscles. There are two active compounds in campanile root that provide the beneficial effect — insulin, which soothes bronchial passage, and alantolactone, an expectorant with antitussive action.
Did you know that horses given lobelia can breath more deeply? But its benefits are not limited to equestrians. Lobelia, by some accounts, is thought to be one of the most valuable herbal remedies in existence. Lobelia contains an alkaloid known as lobe line, which thins mucus, breaks up congestion.
Additionally, lobelia stimulates the adrenal glands to release epinephrine; in effect, this relaxes the airways and allows for easier breathing. Also, because lobelia helps to relax smooth muscles, it is included in many cough and cold remedies. Lobelia should be part of everyone’s respiratory support protocol!
Chaparral, a plant native to the southwest, has been appreciated by the Native Americans for lung detoxification and respiratory support.
Chaparral contains powerful antioxidants that resist irritation and NDGA (nordihydroguaiaretic acid) which is known to fight histamine response. Chaparral is also an herb that fights harmful organisms. The benefits of chaparral are most available in a tincture extraction, but chaparral tea may support respiratory concerns by encouraging an expectorant action to clear airways of mucus.
Peppermint and peppermint oil contain menthol — a soothing ingredient known to relax the smooth muscles of the respiratory tract and promote free breathing.
Paired with the antihistamine effect of peppermint, menthol is a fantastic decongestant. Many people use therapeutic chest balms and other inhalants that contain menthol to help break up congestion. Additionally, peppermint is an antioxidant and fights harmful organisms.
9. OSHA Root
OSHA is an herb native to the Rocky Mountain area and has historically been used by the Native Americans for respiratory support. The roots of the plant contain camphor and other compounds which make it one of the best lung-support herbs in America.
One of the main benefits of OSHA root is that it helps increase circulation to the lungs, which makes it easier to take deep breaths. Also, when seasonal sensitivities flare up your sinuses, OSHA root, which is not an actual antihistamine, does produce a similar effect and may help calm respiratory irritation!