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Home Remedies for
Lung Congestion

Lung congestion results from many reasons:  infection, asthma, COPD, environmental pollution, fungal growth in the lungs etc. There are specific remedies for each of these issues which are best addressed individually with either your medical doctor or a natural health practitioner. In addition to an individual strategy, there are steps you can take to clear phlegm and open up the sinuses and lungs no matter what your underlying reason. All of the following remedies can be used with respiratory medications, in all of their forms (inhalers, oral medications or nebulizers) and can help you to wean yourself down and/or off of them if used consistently.  


To practice good breathing technique, fill the lungs up slowly and pull air into the bottom, back, sides and fronts of your lungs. Hold the air in for a count of 10 and then push it out slowly and completely.  Focusing on good breathing will ALWAYS improve lung function and overall oxygenation of your body


Good quality water is essential, and lungs work best when the body is hydrated.

Diffuse Essential Oils

Essential oils are sold in small bottles at most grocery stores. Many of these herbs can be found in tea bags or loose tea as well. The following herbs are extremely helpful in opening up the lungs and nasal passages:

  • Mint (all kinds)

  • Eucalyptus,

  • Rosemary

  • Helichrysum

  • Tea tree

The following technique can be done any time there is lung or sinus congestion. Doing this before you shower or do breathing exercises will maximize the effects of those techniques as well.

  1. Place herbs or essential oils in the bottom of an empty bowl.

  2. Pour boiled water over them

  3. Place your head over the bowl, covering your head and the bowl with a towel. This traps the steam, making the herbs more potent and effective.

  4. Breathe deeply for about 5 minutes to open up the lung passages.

Steam yourself in the Shower

Place a few drops of the aromatic essential oils (listed above) in the palm of your hand and add a dime-sized amount of simple cooking oil. Rub onto your face, neck, chest and back, then take a steamy shower

Filter your air

This is especially important to do in the areas of your home and workspace where you spend the most time working and sleeping and in your vehicle if you commute or drive for long periods of time. This will give the lungs a break and allow them to heal instead of having them continuously struggle with irritants in the air.  A HEPA filter is highly effective and they are widely available in the stores. Dark green, leafy house plants also act as air filters AND produce oxygen as they absorb our carbon dioxide. They are excellent aides to humans and animals in any home or work environment.

Drink teas

Aromatic herbs (mints, eucalyptus, rosemary, helichrysum, tea tree, etc) can all be made into teas. Mullein tea especially is a natural expectorant which helps to loosen phlegm and promote a productive cough which will bring up thick, stuck phlegm. Mustard (bottled as a condiment) and honey (raw and unfiltered) in about 6-8oz of boiled water makes an excellent expectorant tea and can be combined with the aromatic herbs, nettles, and/or mullein to make an even more powerful lung formula. Nettles is the most effective calming herb for lung spasms (asthma). The leaf can be found in stores in tea bags and a cup of nettle tea can be taken anytime mild spasms are present. A tincture of nettle root is much more powerful than tea from the leaves and can be used as an emergency asthma remedy. This works well in combination with rescue inhalers (which most asthmatics carry).  Tea from the leaves and/or roots can be added to the above teas.

Manual loosening of phlegm


Cupping the hand and gently pounding all areas of the lungs going back and forth between one hand and the other loosens congestion and helps bring up phlegm.  This is especially helpful with babies and small children.  Frail elders or people with chronic, longstanding lung issues should avoid this technique as it can damage fragile tissues if not done properly.

Other Helpful Strategies


When there is heavy smoke or pollution in an area, closing the windows and doors and using an air filter is essential. Getting good aerobic exercise is the best way to heal and strengthen lungs.  Eliminating artificial fragrances in your home and body care products eliminates one of the biggest sources of lung irritation.  Removing carpets from the floors reduces particulates which irritate the lungs in indoor spaces.

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