Definitely, the lungs are among the most important organs in the body. As such, it is also among the most compromised. On your way to your daily job alone, the busy streets can gradually – but surely – cause deterioration of the lungs because of the endless source of pollution – from car emissions to second-hand smoking.
Sometimes, taking medicine for the lungs is too much to ask. They can be very expensive, or may be too uncommon to find. These are just some of the reasons why people opt to switch to alternative medicine, such as tapping the healing wonders of herbs. Since these healthier options are natural products, they are safer, cheaper and can be more potent.
When it comes to taking herbs for medicinal purposes, especially from respiratory conditions, the common belief is that they are not as effective and as such, not worth taking. While the effectiveness of herbs has not been studied deeply to determine how well they work across the entire population, the healing effect of these natural alternatives has held up to most pharmaceutical drugs.
Taking herbs as an alternative medicine may not cure serious health condition like asthma, but it can aid in providing comfort from the ailment when taken religiously before harsh diseases happen.
Much of the time, pharmaceutical drugs attempt to mimic a compound that occurs in nature (like herbs), but often bring the risk of side effects in the process. While it is important to note that herbal medicines can be harmful in extreme doses, it appears their safety is much greater than that of pharmaceutical drugs.
So, if you’re looking to improve the quality of life through strengthening your lungs, here are the four best herbs to get the job done:
Licorice is one of the most widely consumed herbs in the world. In fact, in traditional Chinese medicine, it occurs in more formulas than any other single herb. This is due to the fact that it is thought to harmonize the action of all other herbs.
Licorice root contains many anti-depressant compounds. As an herbal medicine, it has an impressive list of well documented uses and is probably one of the most over-looked of all herbal wonders.
Taking licorice gives a highly soothing sensation as it softens the mucous membranes of the throat and especially the lungs and stomach. At the same time, it cleanses any inflamed membrane that needs immune system support.
Furthermore, it can reduce the irritation in the throat. It contains saponins that loosen the phlegm in the respiratory tract so that the body can easily expel the mucus. Compounds within Licorice help relieve bronchial spasms and can also block the free radical cells that produce the inflammation and tightening of the body’s airways.
Meanwhile, licorice can also enhance immunity by boosting levels of interferon, a major immune system chemical that fights off harmful viruses. It also contains powerful phytoestrogens that can perform some of the functions of the body’s natural estrogens, which is very helpful for people in the phase of menopause. Glycyrrhizinic acid is also found to stop the growth of many bacteria and viruses such as influenza A.
You may have associated this powerful plant as the favorite snack of koalas. However, it has more to it than its refreshing aroma. Eucalyptus greatly helps in improving the health of the respiratory system, starting off from soothing the throat to clearing the trachea airway.
The eucalyptus essential oil, derived from the crushed leaves of the tree, has made its own mark as one of the more potent natural medicine. Its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties have been used throughout centuries for cosmetic and dental use, to ward off insects, and to treat a wide range of respiratory problems.
Just the scent alone from the oil from its leaves makes the eucalyptus highly effective in helping respiratory problems. It leaves you relaxed and in tune with nature. Just imagine having a whole house air purifier in your home, which renders your home aromatically pleasant and therapeutically soothing.
Usually present in products that offer soothing relief from respiratory discomfort, eucalyptus is a common ingredient in cough lozenges and syrups. Its effectiveness is due to a compound called cineole. Cineole has numerous benefits — it serves as an expectorant, can ease a cough, fights congestion, and soothes irritated sinus passages. Plus, since eucalyptus contains antioxidants, it supports the immune system when having a cold or any other similar illness.
Furthermore, it can help regenerate lung tissue, and aid in the whole breathing process. It stimulates the red blood cells to function more effectively, increasing the oxygen supply to every cell in the body. This explains why it is helpful during practically any disease. To treat respiratory ailments, inhale the vapors from the essential oil through a vaporizer, a humidifier, or an aroma lamp.
Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) also known as M. balsamea Willd, has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It has a pleasant taste and is a popular flavoring for food and drink.
The expectorant action of peppermint oil can help clear symptoms of upper respiratory congestion that may stem from allergies, asthma, cold, flu, bronchitis, and the other breathing-related abnormalities. For this reason, it’s often used as an ingredient in therapeutic lung cleansing balms that are rubbed on the chest. This allows for vapors to be almost directly inhaled through the nasal passages and cut through congestion. Unlike prescription medications and even certain OTC therapies, peppermint oil is not associated with drowsiness or other common adverse side effects.
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, menthyl acetate, menthofuran, and cineol. Peppermint oil also contains small amounts of various healing compounds including limonene, pulegone, caryophyllene, and pinene.
Oregano is one of the healthiest herbs out there, and also the most common. Although oregano contains the vitamins and nutrients required by the immune system, its primary benefits are owed to its carvacrol and rosmarinic acid content. The best thing about this herb’s content is that both compounds are natural decongestants and histamine reducers that have direct, positive benefits on the respiratory tract and nasal passage airflow.
According to the Global Healing Center, “Oregano has direct, positive benefits on the respiratory tract, coughing reflex and nasal passage airflow.” Oregano’s rosmarinic acid content reduces fluid buildup and even swelling during an allergy attack, making it a natural histamine-reducing compound.
When pollen, dust, mold, chemicals, fungus, and bacteria are invading your body, it releases a chemical called histamine which causes a reaction similar to allergic reactions — nasal congestion, increased mucous production, and sneezing. Histamine-reducing herbs like oregano aid in counteracting histamine and may help reduce these uncomfortable reactions.
Oregano can be taken topically, sublingually, through capsules or more alternatively through inhalation. To fight sinus infections, colds and allergies, add a few drops of oregano oil to a small pot with boiling water. Cover you head with a towel, close your eyes and put your face over the pot (but not close enough to get burned); inhale the steam. Repeat several times to clear the throat and nasal passages.
Oregano oil also 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.