Home Remedies for Respiratory Disorders

Pollution, stress, smoking, smog and office buildings with poor ventilation can all adversely affect your respiratory system. The good news: Nature offers plenty of weapons to combat asthma, bronchitis and chronic coughs or to complement medical treatments. The health of our lungs and respiratory system is affected by the quality of the air we breathe, and the effects of poor air quality can be far reaching. Thankfully, home remedies can help to alleviate the following conditions.

Thyme and lemon drink Thyme can help to relieve coughing and make breathing easier.

  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) dried thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) dried lemon balm leaves
  • 1 quart (1 L) water

Place the herbs in a heatproof bowl. Boil the water and pour it over them. Let brew until cool and strain. Drink 1 cup (250 ml) three times a day.


Asthma is a serious condition, and without careful monitoring and ongoing treatment can rapidly become dangerous. The condition results in an increase in mucus production that narrows the airways in the lungs, causing a sudden feeling of breathlessness. Infections, allergies, stress, anxiety and stimuli such as dust, smoke and cold can all trigger life threatening asthma attacks. Asthma must be treated medically but, as scary as this condition can be, leading a healthy lifestyle can strengthen breathing passages and boost the body’s natural defenses. If you do have an attack, anything that breaks up mucus and relaxes your bronchial muscles will help. The caveat: If you have allergies or your asthma is allergy related, be particularly cautious about using animal or plant based remedies. These substances can trigger immune reactions and should be used only with medical supervision.

• Try an airway soothing mixture of honey and freshly grated horseradish in a 1:3 ratio. Take 1 tablespoon (15 ml) three times a day.

• To combat airway spasms and mucus, mix 2 teaspoons (10 ml) cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) honey in 1 cup (250 ml) water and drink three times a day for 3 months.

• A warm chest compress breaks up mucus: Soak a cotton cloth in water about 120°F (50°C), wring it out and lay it over your chest. Cover it with a dry cloth and rest in bed for 30 minutes.

• Excessively dry air irritates breathing passages. You can buy a humidifier, but bowls of water placed strategically around the house are a cheaper alternative. The water will evaporate into the air, providing moisture and some relief.


Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi, the tubes leading from the throat to the lungs, usually as a result of infection or irritation. To encourage healing, drink plenty of fluids. Teas and other hot drinks can soothe irritated airways and liquefy mucus, making it easier to cough up. In addition to traditional herb, clary sage or chamomile teas, home remedies that make use of common ingredients such as onions and sugar can be remarkably effective, and steam inhalations may soothe a persistent cough.

• Grind 1 tablespoon (5 ml) aniseeds in a mortar and mix in a bowl with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried thyme. Pour 1 quart (1 L) water over the mixture. Let the tea steep for 5 minutes, strain, sweeten with honey and drink throughout the day.

• Peel and slice a large onion. Sprinkle the slices with a thick coating of brown sugar, layer them inside a glass jar, seal tightly and place in a warm spot overnight. Take 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of the mixture three times a day. Refrigerate the remainder.

• Chamomile soothes irritated respiratory passages. To inhale it, drop a handful of dried chamomile flowers into a bowl of boiling water, cover and let steep for 10 minutes before carefully inhaling the steam. As an alternative chamomile flowers, add 1-2 drops of eucalyptus, thyme, or cypress oil to the hot water before inhaling.


Despite the huge sums spent on over the counter cough remedies every year, doctors say they are largely ineffective against a nagging cough. To relieve persistent symptoms, gentle, soothing home remedies can work wonders. Teas made from licorice, thyme or marshmallow can relieve a dry cough, and hot baths and cough remedies made from medicinal plants or ingredients may speed your recovery.

• For homemade cough syrup, combine 1/4 cup (50 ml) lemon juice with 1 cup (250 ml) of honey in 1/4 cup (50 ml) warm water. Take 1/2 tablespoons (15 30 ml) every 3 hours. Note, Honey should not be given to children under 2 years of age.

• For adults, warm beer can ease a dry cough and send you off to sleep. Before going to bed, warm about 2 cups (500 ml) beer with 3 tablespoons (45 ml) honey but don’t let it boil. Sip slowly.

• A lemon wrap may help. Pour the juice from two lemons on a cotton cloth and wrap it over your chest using a wool scarf to hold it in place. Give it an hour to work its magic before removing. Notes If you have sensitive skin, this could cause skin irritation. If so, remove the wrap immediately and wash your skin with warm water.

• Three drops of eucalyptus oil and a bit of water in an oil burner can soothe troubled breathing passages.

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