The Best Home Remedies for Chest Congestion

The Best Home Remedies for Chest Congestion
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Chest congestion is an unpleasant inflammation of the lower respiratory system which results in a buildup of mucus. In many cases, common conditions, such as colds, the flu, and respiratory bacterial or viral infections can cause a chest infection. This leads to an accumulation of yellowish or greenish phlegm (thick mucus) in your chest which can cause mild to severe coughing and it can make your breathing become difficult and painful.

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In order to prevent any complications caused by a chest infection, it is important to clear any congestion before it worsens. There are many natural home remedies for chest congestion that can help you alleviate the symptoms and speed up the healing process so you can return you to your previous, congestion-free, health.

What is Chest Congestion

Chest congestion happens when the mucous membranes (mucosa) in your chest become irritated and inflamed and they start to produce excess fluid and mucus (a slippery secretion produced by the respiratory membranes – also referred to as snot, phlegm, or sputum) in the lungs.

You should always try and treat a chest infection at its earliest stage. According to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, if left untreated, chest congestion can develop into a serious or even life-threatening condition.1 If you find it difficult to get rid of excess mucus in your chest, you should visit your doctor so that it doesn’t develop into severe bronchitis or pneumonia.

The most common symptoms of chest congestion include:

  • persistent cough
  • coughing up phlegm
  • difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
  • pain in the chest
  • dizziness
  • runny nose

Depending on the root cause of the congestion and build up of mucus in your chest, you may also have a sore throat, fever, aching joints, loss of appetite, and a headache.

If you have the “classic” common cold or flu symptoms, you should always start treating any chest congestion as soon as possible. The quicker you start tackling your symptoms, the less mucus will accumulate in your chest and throat. Also, natural home remedies are usually more effective when used early on to relieve the symptoms of a chest congestion.

How to Get Rid of Chest Congestion Naturally

There are many home remedies that can help to reduce the amount of mucus in your chest. Many of these natural remedies help to loosen mucus to make it easier to cough up, other remedies help to kill off the bacteria that cause mucus in the chest and throat.

Chicken Soup

Far from being an old wives’ tale, chicken soup is an effective (and delicious) home remedy that can help get rid of chest congestion quickly. Chicken soup is also one of the best natural remedies to break a fever.

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A scientific study published in the journal Chest found that hot chicken soup made with vegetables contains anti-inflammatory substances and can help to speed up the healing process of respiratory tract infections.3 One study suggested that it wasn’t just the warmth of the soup that helped to relieve the symptoms, but a specific compound called carnosine in the chicken soup that helps to treat chest infections.

You can find a delicious chicken soup recipe here. Consume the chicken soup once a day until your chest congestion clears and you no longer have a cough.

Steam

You can also try steaming out your chest congestion to loosen the mucus trapped in your respiratory tract. Warm steam helps to break up the mucus making it easier to cough up and get rid of it.

Use steam inhalation to relieve the symptoms of chest congestion. You can also add essential oils that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and that boost the power of steam to help relieve chest congestion.

For example, tea tree oil helps to reduce inflammation and contains antimicrobial compounds.4 Menthol essential oil can help to unblock congestion and relieve a buildup of mucus.5 Also, eucalyptus and peppermint oils are effective in helping to relieve symptoms of respiratory tract infections.6 These essential oils are also effective in treating sinus infections.

Here is what you should to clear chest congestion faster by using steam inhalation and essential oils:

  • Pour boiling water into a large bowl.
  • Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for relieving congestion.
  • Put your head over the bowl, cover your head with a large towel and breathe deeply for 10 minutes.
  • Repeat the steam inhalation 2-3 times a day to help ease inflammation in your airways and combat viral and bacterial infections that cause mucus to form.

Other ways of using steam to relieve chest congestion include taking a hot shower or bath or using a steam vaporizer to keep your bedroom humid at night.

Increase your fluid intake

Drinking plenty of fluids is essential to help clear up chest congestion quicker and to stay hydrated when you’re ill. Drinking plenty of fluids can help to thin the mucus secretions in the chest which makes it easier to cough up the phlegm.

Many people have found that drinking soothing herbal teas can help to get relief from a ‘chesty cough’ and loosen thick mucus.

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Chamomile tea can help to treat chest congestion. For example, studies into chamomile have found that it is an effective natural herb that can help treat respiratory infections and reduce inflammation in mucous membranes.7

You could also make tea from fresh ginger root to clear mucus caused by a chest infection. The Journal of Ethnopharmacology published a study showing that the anti-viral activities of fresh ginger can help treat various respiratory tract infections and therefore can help clear chest congestion.8 Find out here how to make a fresh ginger and turmeric anti-inflammatory tea.

To make a delicious herbal tea as a natural remedy for a cough and chest congestion, use a teaspoon of dried chamomile leaves or chop up a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger and let it steep in a cup of boiling water for 5 minutes. For sweetness, add some raw, natural honey (don’t add the honey to boiling water as the heat will destroy the nutrients). This will also increase the tea’s antibacterial power. Drink the herbal tea as frequently as needed every day until your chest congestion symptoms improve.

Drink hot tea with lemon and honey to help reduce mucus and breathe easier. The vitamin C in lemons helps strengthen the immune system, while honey has anti-viral and anti-microbial properties. You can also use honey and lemon in many other ways to improve your health.

Fluids to avoid:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Caffeinated drinks (coffee, black tea, sodas)
  • Drinks with high sugar content

Garlic

Garlic is one of my favorite home remedies because it acts as an antimicrobial agent against most infections. In fact, you can use garlic as a natural antibiotic to help kill bacteria that cause a buildup of mucus in your chest and sinuses.

A study published in the journal Microbes and Infection said that allicin in garlic is a powerful antibacterial agent that is effective against a broad spectrum of bacterial infections.9

If you suffer from chest congestion and have difficulty coughing up phlegm, consume more garlic to help clear your symptoms up quicker. Garlic is best eaten raw to get the benefits of its medicinal properties. Here is what to do:

  • Mince up one or two garlic cloves and let them stand for 10 minutes to allow the active ingredient allicin to form.
  • Mix the garlic with one or two spoons of plain yogurt or a spoon of raw honey and consume 2-3 times a day.
  • Use this remedy daily until you no longer have a mucus buildup in your chest.

Garlic is also one of the herbs I mentioned in my e-Book The Herbal Remedies Guide. Pay special attention to avoid these 6 common mistakes when using garlic as a medicine. Garlic is also one of the ingredients in my homemade natural syrup for chest infections.

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Chili peppers

Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a powerful compound which gives chili peppers their ‘kick.’ However, capsaicin is also full of antioxidants, and it can act as a natural decongestant. In clinical trials, the compound has shown to help clear up inflammation in sinuses and reduce symptoms like a blocked up and runny nose.10

Try adding some fresh chilies or chili powder to your meal to act as a natural decongestant and expectorant (helps to thin mucus).

Turmeric

Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory remedy which can help reduce mucus and the other symptoms of chest congestion. This ‘king of spices’ should also be included in your diet, both in food and as a therapeutic and soothing drink.

Make a warm drink such as this turmeric golden milk or prepare a more exotic meal. Turmeric has low absorption and rapid metabolism but there are natural ways to improve its absorption in your body.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Apple cider vinegar is a natural antiseptic which effectively kills many strains of bacteria and can help to get a relief from the symptoms of chest congestion.

If you are trying ACV for the first time, you might not like the taste, however, when you realize how much ACV will improve your breathing and deal with the bacteria that cause the extra mucus in your chest, you will quickly get used to its taste!

Combine apple cider vinegar with some turmeric and add raw honey to improve the taste and boost its effectiveness in clearing excess mucus from your chest. Drink a shot every 8 hours to dissolve phlegm and help to clear your airways. However, remember not to overdo it or you might end up with an upset stomach.

  • One glass of warm water.
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric

Apple cider vinegar and honey has many other health benefits.

Gargle with Salt Water

Gargling with salt water is one of the simplest home remedies to thin mucus and soothe a sore throat. Salt is one of the oldest known antibacterial compounds and has been used for centuries to kill off bacteria. While this home remedy does not target the chest congestion directly, it can help you to loosen mucus and relieve congestion.

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Gargling with saline water can draw excess fluid from inflamed tissues in the throat, making them hurt less, says Dr. Philip T. Hagen, editor in chief of the “Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies”. Dr. Hagen claims that gargling also loosens thick mucus, which can remove irritants like allergens, bacteria and fungi from the throat.

The journal Food Microbiology showed that salt is effective in combating the spread of bacteria.2

According to another research, gargling with salt water is a very effective treatment for upper respiratory infections. The researchers also added that “gargling tended to attenuate bronchial symptoms”.

Make a salt gargle to break up your chest congestion and kill bacteria in your throat that can cause mucus. You should add 1 tsp. salt to a glass of warm water and mix well. The warm water will help the salt dissolve. Gargle for 1-2 minutes and repeat the process 2 to 3 times a day to help relieve symptoms of your chest congestion. Continue with the salt gargle daily until your chest congestion has gone and you no longer have a sore throat.

Gargling with salt is also an effective way to get rid of a tickle in your throat.

Other Natural Way to Get Rid of Chest Congestion

There are more natural remedies which can help you get rid of chest congestion quicker and prevent it from developing into a more serious condition. Some of these natural expectorants are:

Horseradish – There is an anecdotal evidence that you can use horseradish as a natural decongestant. Try spicing up your meal with this delicious root and you may find that your chest congestion clears up quicker. You can find more information on how to use horseradish as a medicine in this article.

Fennel – This spice has traditionally been used as a natural decongestant to naturally move mucus from your lungs. You can use sautéed fennel or mix it with some curry powder.

How to Prevent Chest Congestion

Getting rid of chest congestion is not always easy and therefore you should always try to avoid getting a chest infection in the first place. Here are my best tips for preventing chest congestion:

  • Exercise – this will help with the health of your lungs, breathing muscles and air circulation.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Practice a relaxation technique (yoga, meditation, mindfulness).
  • Stay sufficiently hydrated.
  • Limit unhealthy fats, salt, and processed foods – enjoy a balanced diet.
  • Avoid foods that produce mucus: dairy products, salt, sugar, fried foods.
  • Get enough vitamin D and sun exposure. A lack of vitamin D can cause 12 common diseases.
  • Stop smoking. You can get advice on how to quit smoking in my article about the 5 natural ways to quit smoking.
  • Avoid taking suppressants – These are drugs that stop you coughing and bringing up phlegm. Even doctors recommend against taking cough syrups because they may hinder the healing process because they keep phlegm in the mucous membranes and breed more bacteria. Coughing is your body’s way of getting rid of thickened mucus in your chest and clearing your lungs, so don’t try to stop the body’s natural mechanisms.

Read my other related posts to learn how to get rid of chest infection and other related illnesses:
1. How to Make Garlic Syrup for Chest Infections
2. Kill Your Infections With This Natural Antibiotic
3. How To Fight Cold and Flu With Baking Soda
4. Best Essential Oils for Cold and Sore Throat
5. Natural Ways to Stay Free From Cold & Flu This Winter
6. Easy and Effective Homemade Syrup to Relieve Sore Throat and Cough

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One Response to The Best Home Remedies for Chest Congestion

  1. Truphena Achega says:

    Thanx for this vital info on health. Am really trying to quit white sugar intake, and all the other tips are really important. what do I do with the strong smell from garlic? I hate the smell.

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