The mucus in your chest lines the walls of the respiratory system. Containing antiseptic enzymes and immunoglobulins, mucus works to protect the body against bronchial blockage, congestion, lung irritants, and infections. When you become sick or catch a virus, the respiratory system can become irritated, causing phlegm (chest mucus) to be produced in larger amounts.
Excess phlegm, dead immune cells, and bacteria are expelled via coughing. This can be unpleasant, but it indicates that the body is fighting off an infection. Excess mucus in the respiratory system is typically caused by viral or bacterial infections like the influenza, bronchitis, or pneumonia. To help you clear excess mucus from the lungs, try using the following herbs the next time you feel congested.
Licorice root tea is said to ease congestion by helping to loosen and thin mucus in airways so that it can be expelled from the body. It may even fight the viruses that lead to an overproduction of mucus in the first place. Licorice root has anti-inflammatory properties that will help release mucus, and will make the air passages wider so that oxygen can flow more freely. It also has a soothing effect on the calm lungs.
Watercress is full of nutrients and good for a lot of medicinal purposes, one of which is to reduce the mucus caused by colds and bronchitis. Watercress has been described as an effective expectorant, meaning that it helps the body loosen mucus and get rid of phlegm whenever you cough. It keeps the throat and airways clear of unwanted substances, making it easier for you to breathe. If taken by people already suffering a cold or cough, watercress can help shorten the duration of the ailment and lower its intensity. If taken at the sign of the first symptom, it can even help prevent the development of a full-fledged infection. To help remedy a runny nose, for example, just eat about an ounce of fresh watercress. You can also make watercress tea by soaking two tablespoons of freshly chopped watercress leaves in a cup of hot water.
Eucalyptus is a common ingredient in cough lozenges and syrups and its effectiveness is due to a compound called cineole. Cineole has numerous benefits — it’s an expectorant, can ease a cough, fights congestion, and soothes irritated sinus passages. To relieve congestion, place a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a handkerchief or add 10 to 15 drops to a diffuser or some boiling water on the stove. Inhale the vapors to help cleanse the respiratory system.
The calendula flower has been used to help soothe a sore throat or mouth. It is thought that the chemicals in calendula help new tissue grow in wounds and decrease swelling in the mouth and throat.
Fenugreek is a legume and it has been used as a spice throughout the world to enhance the sensory quality of foods. Fenugreek maintains mucus conditions of the body, mostly the lungs, by helping to clear congestion. It also acts as a throat cleanser and mucus solvent that works to curb the urge to cough.
Wani, S. A., & Kumar, P. (2016). Fenugreek: A review on its nutraceutical properties and utilization in various food products. Journal of the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences.