For instance, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an incurable lung disease, can make it difficult for an individual to carry out basic physical activities like walking or going up the stairs. COPD also causes breathlessness, chronic cough and fatigue, which can greatly impact an individual's daily routine.
Unfortunately, several environmental factors can make anyone susceptible to respiratory conditions. For instance, exposure to cigarette smoke and toxic factory fumes can severely irritate the lungs and nasal passage. Over time, frequent exposure to irritants can lead to significant respiratory damage and impaired lung function.
Many physicians prescribe the use of pharmaceutical drugs to eliminate the disease-causing pathogens attacking the lungs. However, synthetic drugs and antibiotics cause side effects that can worsen the symptoms of respiratory conditions, such as allergic reactions, nausea, shortness of breath and irregular heart rate. Extensive use of antibiotics has also led to the emergence of complex, antibiotic-resistant strains that are difficult to neutralize.
Fortunately, various medicinal herbs can positively affect bronchial tubes and airways that transport oxygen throughout the body. The following herbs can repair damaged lungs and boost overall respiratory health.
Licorice is a popular remedy for respiratory conditions due to its antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It has a soothing effect on the mucous membranes of the throat and lungs. Not only can it relieve irritated airways, but it can also stimulate the body to eject phlegm and excess mucus.
Echinacea is a medicinal herb that is commonly used to treat inflammation and facilitate healing. It has potent antioxidant effects against viral and bacterial infections including the common cold and flu.
Due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, ginkgo biloba is often used to relieve symptoms of asthma including breathlessness and chronic coughs. It can also soothe irritated bronchial tubes and air sacs.
The mullein plant also contains antioxidants that can eliminate excess mucus clogging the sinuses, throat and lungs. Its flowers and leaves are commonly used to make herbal tea.
Peppermint contains bioactive compounds that clear the nasal tract and soothe inflammation. Menthol, the main active compound in peppermint, is a natural antihistamine that can treat allergic reactions and inhibit the growth of bacteria. Menthol also provides cooling relief throughout the nasal tract.
Thyme is commonly used to prevent bacterial and viral infections due to its potent antibiotic and antiviral properties. As an antiseptic, it can inhibit the growth of potentially harmful micro-organisms. Thyme is also commonly used to make herbal tea that can relieve symptoms of pneumonia.
Oregano is an excellent source of immune-boosting antioxidants. It also has antibacterial and antiviral properties that can treat infections. Rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant found in oregano, also acts as a natural antihistamine and decongestant.
Cannabinoids, the active anti-inflammatory compounds found in cannabis, can ease the symptoms of asthma by clearing the nasal tract. Cannabinoids also enhance the body's immune responses to pathogens. (Related: Cannabis could be an alternative treatment for pain and sleeping troubles.)
Elecampane contains two active plant compounds that exhibit anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Inulin, a polysaccharide that can also be found in onions, wheat and asparagus, can soothe irritated bronchial tubes. Meanwhile, the phytochemical known as alantolactone can reduce inflammation and inhibit the growth of bacteria.
Chaparral is a bright flowering plant that is commonly used to ease congestion and chronic coughs. As a potent antioxidant, chaparral can also rid the lungs and nasal tract of toxins and pathogens. It also promotes rapid healing of damaged bronchial tubes and air sacs.
If left untreated, chronic respiratory conditions can cause significant, irreversible damage to the lungs. Over time, poor respiratory health can make the body susceptible to a host of life-threatening diseases like COPD. Fortunately, adequate intake of medicinal herbs can greatly enhance and restore respiratory function.