Mucus is not the highlight of my day when my nose is running and when I have not slept well the night before because I was congested. Despite the negative effects of excess mucus, the body needs mucus and produces it even when we are not sick. Mucus forms a protective lining in many areas of the body and acts as a protective and moisturizing layer to prevent critical organs and tissues from drying out. Mucus protects the lining of your stomach from corrosion by acid and acts as a lubricant in your oesophagus to help move food down into your stomach smoothly. Mucus also helps defend against bacteria and viruses and acts as a trap for irritants such as smoke and dust.
Even though mucus is necessary for a healthy body, too much mucus causes discomfort and may lead to infection, especially if the mucus is produced in excess in the lungs. You may already be familiar with the term “phlegm”, and you will immediately relate to the uncomfortable problems associated with phlegm. It is a type of mucus that is produced in the lungs and in the lower respiratory tract, when the body becomes ill or if a chronic condition is present, then phlegm will become more noticeable and may cause some serious problems if it is not attended to. This article will offer you some helpful information on how to clear lungs of mucus naturally to prevent further health complications.
What causes mucus to develop in the lungs?
Mucus is a sticky, gelatine-like substance that is produced by goblet cells and the submucosal glands that run from your nose to your lungs. While most of it is swallowed, the mucus that is left behind keeps your airways moist for effective functioning. Mucus helps protect the lungs by capturing dust particles, pollutants, and dirt as you inhale. Tiny hair-like structures called cilia move mucus out of the lungs, however, the cilia may be damaged by smoking or medical conditions which will limit their functionality and the mucus will not be effectively removed from the lungs, thus creating an unwanted mucus build-up.
Hyper-secretion or overproduction of mucus can occur when there is a dysfunction of the goblet cells or if an infection, irritation, inflammation, or debris is present in the respiratory tract. Eosinophils and neutrophils are the inflammatory cells in the lungs and airways, if they are activated, they will produce oxidants which irritate the mucosal cells in the airways. This irritation causes a build-up of mucus in the lungs. Phlegm is produced in the lower respiratory tract in response to this inflammation in the lungs, unfortunately, phlegm is not always noticed unless it is coughed up.
The following may trigger inflammation and create a build-up of mucus in the lungs:
- – A dry indoor environment which may be the result of heating or air conditioning.
- – Medications that have a drying effect
- – Smoking
- – Dehydration – not drinking enough water or fluids, or consuming beverages such as coffee, tea, and alcohol which promote fluid loss.
- – Respiratory infection (viral or bacterial) and bacterial pneumonia.
- – Chronic bronchitis
- – COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- – Acid reflux
- – Allergies (allergens can activate the inflammatory cells in the lungs)
- – Asthma
- – Cystic fibrosis
If you are suffering from excess mucus, whether it is caused by an infection, the flu-virus, bacteria, or inflammation then you will want to ease the discomfort as quickly and as naturally as you can. We are all aware of the Covid19 pandemic that is sweeping the world off its feet. The coronavirus affects mucus production with 27% of cases reporting that patients are suffering from phlegm in their lungs. Some of the natural remedies below may prove helpful.
The first go-to option when you are struggling with mucus on your lungs is to steam your chest. It is a simple and completely natural way to loosen mucus on the chest. Take a hot, steamy shower and let the warm and moist air breakdown the mucus in your airways or use a humidifier to increase the moisture of the air that you are breathing in. Add some peppermint oil into your humidifier for the extra strength needed to break down the mucus. Remember to always stay hydrated because a hydrated body will function optimally to fight infections or inflammation. Drink water or herbal tea to manage your fluid intake and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Below is a list of remedies to help clear lungs of mucus naturally:
The delicious taste of honey offers a lot more than just a sugar alternative, research has shown that honey has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Studies conducted on children suffering from upper respiratory infections showed that honey relieved their cough and helped loosen the mucus in their lungs. This could be because honey triggers the salivary glands to produce more saliva which helps lubricate the airways and loosen stubborn mucus in the lungs. Honey also reduces inflammation in the bronchial tubes. Mix a teaspoon of honey into a cup of warm milk or tea before bed or simply down a teaspoon of it on its own. Remember not to give honey to children under the age of 1 due to the increased risk of botulism.
It was mentioned earlier to add a little peppermint oil (that is diluted in a carrier oil) to your humidifier, this is because peppermint contains a compound called menthol which helps thin mucus and loosens phlegm in the lungs. Menthol triggers the mucus receptors in the nose and helps to open the airways and break down mucus. Recent lab studies have shown that peppermint oil can help fight against bacteria and reduce inflammation.
Drinking peppermint tea is a great way to loosen mucus. Add a few fresh peppermint leaves to hot water to make your own tea at home. Peppermint tea has no side effects unless you have an allergy to mint. Remember that pure menthol is poisonous and should never be an option for treatment, rather opt for peppermint oil, or make fresh peppermint tea.
The evergreen plant, ivy (Hedera helix) produces the ivy leaf which has been shown to be an effective expectorant. The saponins that are found in the ivy leaf help reduce the thickness of mucus so you can cough it up more easily. Ivy leaf is used as a remedy for chronic inflammatory bronchial conditions and for productive cough. The extracts of the leaf work by widening the bronchi and by stimulating the bronchial glands to secrete a watery liquid. Ivy leaf is best consumed as a tea. Warm fluids, in particular, are excellent for treating mucus in the lungs, a 2008 study showed that hot beverages, such as ivy leaf tea, provide immediate and sustained relief from congestion and mucus build-up.
Cod Liver Oil
Cod Liver Oil is a rich source of Vitamins A, C and D. These vitamins are excellent anti-inflammatories and reduce inflammation of the mucus membranes, they are also beneficial for boosting and maintaining the immune system to help prevent infections that may flare mucus build-up. The Vitamin C contained in cod liver oil is essential because it reduces inflammation and allergic responses which attribute to excess mucus production. Vitamin C also increases resistance to various viral and bacterial infections. Fish oils help limit the dryness of the lining of the respiratory tract and retain the moisture needed in the nasal passages. One teaspoon a day of cod liver oil will offer you improved immunity and help fight against mucus build-up. Although cod liver oil contains some of the vital vitamins that we need daily, it is always suggested to include additional supplements that host an array of essential multi-vitamins, this will give your body an extra boost and help build a strong immune system. Supplementing with a multi-vitamin will help prevent illness and disease and limit an existing condition from becoming worse.
Some essential oils are great for opening the airways to ease breathing and to loosen mucus in the lungs. Essential oils are often underestimated, they are my go-to when my children or I have trouble with mucus or phlegm in our chest. Some oils have been proven to help stop the growth of bacteria that causes infection in the respiratory tract. The following oils will help loosen mucus:
– Cinnamon bark
– Tea Tree
– Rosemary Essential oils can be inhaled directly from the bottle, added to hot water for steam inhalation, or used in a diffuser.
A vapour rub can also be made using essential oils. Mix a quarter cup of coconut oil with 12 drops of one of the oils listed above. Apply the rub topically to the chest. Make sure you do not apply this mixture to broken or damaged skin.
Treatment is necessary
If excess mucus on the lungs is left untreated, it may lead to respiratory infection, bacterial bronchitis, difficulty in breathing, and pneumonia. These are serious conditions that could become fatal. The coronavirus is presenting symptoms of mucus build-up and this condition should be treated right away to eliminate the mucus on the lungs as quickly as possible.
I love the phrase “prevention is better than cure” because it truly is the case. Make sure you are consuming a diet that includes vitamins and minerals that promote immune-boosting qualities. Turn to foods rich in Vitamins A, C, and D, as well as calcium and zinc. A strong immune system will help fight bacteria and viruses before they cause problems and harmful conditions in the body. As soon as you experience excess mucus or coughing, as a result, turn to the home remedies above to enjoy a natural and gentle approach to treatment. Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways and many of them are gentle enough for children too.
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Until next time