7 Ways to Use Herbs to Support Your Respiratory System

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Welcome back to part two of this blog series on supporting a healthy respiration system. Today we’ll be covering 7 Ways to Use Herbs to Support Your Respiratory System.

Last time in part one we covered 7 Supportive Herbs for Your Respiratory System and why they were so useful. Today’s blog post is focusing more on how to use these herbs and how to add them to your daily routine.

As all herb plays a different role when assisting the respiratory system, it can be a bit of a mind game to know which ones are useful for what. That’s where this blog post comes in. So let’s get to it!

Herbal Practices for Your Respiratory System - drink herbal tea

No. 1 – Drink Herbal Tea

Hydration is key to pretty much every aspect of health, but when you’re talking about the respiratory system, it’s a big one.
The lungs control our respiration which also helps regulate the flow of water in our body.  
Drinking warm herbal tea daily is a wonderful and easy way to keep yourself hydrated and warm with the benefit of keeping everything moving and flowing the way it should.

If you’re suffering from any kind of sinus infection, congestion or general cold and flu, keep drinking to help naturally thin out mucus. In general, it’s advisable to stick to clear liquids that are free of caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Think herbal teas, water or clear veggie broths.

Additionally, here’s a great place to add in some herbs.
Yogi Breathe Deep tea is an Ayurvedic blend of herbs and spices traditionally believed to support healthy breathing. It’s wonderfully supportive to the lungs since it utilises a traditional Ayurvedic blend of eucalyptus, elecampane, basil, ginger, liquorice root and other supporting herbs. Definitely a good blend for anyone feeling under the weather.
Alternatively, try thyme, sage, liquorice, ginger or tulsi tea.

This is also a good place to add in some medicinal mushrooms such as reishi and cordyceps. Modern research is now catching up on how effective both reishi and cordyceps are for protecting and supporting the immune system as well as enhancing the functions of the respiratory organs.

Herbal Practices for Your Respiratory System use herbal syrups

No. 2 – Use Herbal Syrups

Herbal syrups are absolutely wonderful to have on hand all year round, but especially during the colder months. If your respiratory tract feels in need of some loving, consider taking a respiratory supportive herbal syrup daily.

You can either make your own syrups or purchase them. Great herbs to look out for include thyme, elderberry, mullein, elecampane, liquorice and manuka based for example.

Herbal syrups are nice and soothing to an otherwise sore or scratchy throat, plus they’re great for coughs, dry irritated tissues or simply used as a preventative. Furthermore, the added sweetener (generally honey or raw sugar) tends to make the herbs more palatable.

Some fantastic syrups in-store include:

  • Pukka Elderberry Syrup – a delicious organic blend of manuka honey 14+, trikatu, thyme along with aniseed, liquorice, horseradish and peppermint. 
  • A Vogel Bronchoforce (Ivy-Thyme) A wonderful herbal remedy for chesty or mucusy coughs as well as chest/bronchial congestion.
  • A Vogel Bronchosan – A traditional herbal medicinal product used for the relief of a dry, tickly and irritating cough. This product uses freshly harvested pine shoots (spruce) and is exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy.

Make your own by following the instructions in this blog post:

Herbal Practices for Your Respiratory System herbal steams

No. 3 – Do Herbal Steam Inhalations

Steam inhalations are a wonderful trick to use herbs and essential oils for. They’re invaluable for the respiratory system.

Herbal Facial Steam: 

To a bowl or pot of hot water, add a 2-3 drops of eucalyptus, thyme, rosemary, peppermint or lavender and breathe in the vapours.

If they’re available to you, fresh herbs can also be used in place of essential oils. Just add herbs to a pot, bring water to a rolling boil and then remove from heat.
Then hold your face over the pot and drape a towel over your head. Close your eyes and breathe deeply for instant relief. Repeat as needed. Eucalyptus, thyme and rosemary oil all have anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties and help to reduce the swelling of mucous membranes.

Herbal Steamy Shower

If facial steams are not up your alley, try adding a drop or two of essential oils to your shower. Warm, steamy showers are a super easy home remedy you can do to help relieve sinus pressure and also help loosen mucus and clear things out. Simply sprinkle a few drops of eucalyptus and/or peppermint oil/rosemary oil around the shower, then turn up the water to as warm as you can stand it.

Herbal Practices for Your Respiratory System use a diffuser

No. 4 – Use a Vaporiser/Diffuser

Using a vaporiser/diffuser helps to keep the air humid and is great to use at night while you sleep. Herbs like eucalyptus, peppermint, pine, cedar and spruce are great to clear and cleanse not only the air around you, but also your respiratory system.

No. 5 – Try a Neti Pot

Our nose is the opening to our lungs, and one way to help prevent colds and flu’s is by keeping our nose and sinuses clean and clear.

Have you heard of a Neti pot before? It’s a small container with a long spout that has a long history of use. The basic idea is that you rinse your nasal passages with slightly salted warm water to rid your nose of excess mucus, flush out irritants and move blockages.
Although it sounds very odd, these pots are genuinely fantastic, especially if you suffer from:

  • sinus infections
  • colds/flu’s
  • a runny nose
  • pollen sensitives or;
  • are constantly in air-conditioned rooms
  • travelling e.g on public transport/planes
  • live in the city (hello pollution)

Ok ok, you got me. I know this isn’t exactly a herb, but it does use salt which is a fantastic healer. Salt has been used for treating sore throats and stuffed noses for hundreds of years, and for good reason – it works!
This is a wonderful practice to get into as it’s superb at hydrating the mucus membranes inside our noses.

There is very little risk to using Neti pots as long as you use it correctly. Do make sure to research how to use it properly and which types of salt and water are appropriate.

No. 6 – Try Nasal Lubrication

An additional step to the Neti pot practice is nasal lubrication using oil. This practice is simple and a very common practice in Ayurvedic medicine. Essentially, an infused oil or plain oil such as sesame seed oil is applied via your little finger and gently swabbed around the lining of your nose.

The benefits of daily nasal lubrication include:

  • Moisturizing the inside of the nose
  • Soothing and protecting the nasal passages
  • Aiding the relief of sinus congestion
  • If you use oil infused with essential oils, this practice may also help with tension, headaches and stress

You’ll commonly find this as a product called Nasya Oil, sold as a nurturing and nourishing herbal oil for the nasal passages. Alternatively, you can make your own.

  • Fill a dropper bottle with Sesame Oil and add 4-8 drops of eucalyptus|Lavender|peppermint essential oil.
  • Drop a few drops onto your palm and dip your little finger into the oil. Gently swab the lining of your nostrils.

I recommend, if you’re interested in this practice, to research further into it, with a specific focus on which essential oils are more suited to you. It’s also very important that the essential oils are diluted and not used neat. Depending on your sensitivity to essential oils, you may also want to put half the amount of essential oil into the bottle.

It’s not recommended to do this practice when you’re suffering from a sinus infection, cold or flu. It’s used more so as a preventative rather than treatment.

If you are suffering from seasonal colds, allergies, rhinitis, sinusitis or general nasal irritation, try a natural nasal spray such as Otosan Nasal Spray or A Vogel Sinuforce Nasal Spray.

Tiger Balm

No. 7 – Rub Balms and Oils on Your Chest

An oldie but a goldie. Rubbing a balm or oil blended with essentials oils is a great way to aid your respiratory tract. They can be used to clear the head, loosen catarrh and open the sinuses. Especially if you use a purifying scent of pine and eucalyptus essential oils for example.

Try diluting a drop or two of eucalyptus oil to 5 ml (one teaspoon) of your favourite carrier oil such as sweet almond oil. Gently rub this over your chest. This should help ease breathing, help with congestion and clear the sinuses.
You can also make your own balms with beeswax etc. and I highly encourage you to have a research into recipes. They’re great to have at hand, especially during the winter months.

If you don’t feel like DIY-ing it, Tiger balm is a great option. The white balm is fantastic for this.

That’s it for 7 Ways to Use Herbs to Support Your Respiratory System. Naturally, there are a multitude of additional ways to use herbs for your health. I hope that this blog post gives you some entry points to start with. Have a peak at these blogs for some more ways to add herbs into your diet:

Additional herbs to add to your herbal repertoire include:

Oreganoolive leaf, rosemary, sage, elderberry (and elderflower), peppermint, pine (e.g Bronchosan), mullein, marshmallow and more.

Don’t forget to check out part one if you missed it.

Emily Nöth

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*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attentionThese herbs are not a substitute for life-saving pharmaceuticals like inhalers or EpiPens. Please seek immediate medical attention if your symptoms are severe, such as difficulty breathing.

Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication