Attack Winter Chest Colds with These Herbs & Home Remedies

Image courtesy of Flickr user Freeparking: “The Sick Child” by Munch

A couple weeks ago, upon returning from Christmas vacation and having caught a chest cold from a family member, I started to get that old familiar feeling: the onset of bronchitis. Ever since I first got it a few years ago, it has invaded my life every winter, leaving me with hacking coughs and sore, weak lungs. Since my last bout of bronchitis lasted 6 weeks and nearly landed me in the hospital, I was determined to do whatever I could go make it go away as soon as possible.

After doing all of the things listed below, I’m breathing easy and feeling much better, so I thought I’d pass these tips along to all of you. They’re no miracle treatment, but hopefully they’ll help you get through the winter cold season!

Tea and soup, tea and soup!
Hot fluids act as a natural expectorant, thinning mucus so you can get it out, which should be your main goal. Ginger, honey and lemon make a tasty combination that will kill bacteria in your mouth and throat as well as soothing throat tissue irritated by coughing. Vegetable broth with lots of garlic and onion will do the same. And, as I previously recommended for treating colds, honeysuckle tea can work wonders and many herbalists swear by it.

Use a humidifier or vaporizer in your bedroom at night to help thin secretions. In the winter, the air in our homes tends to be pretty dry due to heating. If you can’t afford a humidifier or vaporizer, give yourself a steam treatment before bed by filling a sink with hot water and bending over it with a towel covering your head to hold in the steam. Breathe in deeply. You can add peppermint oil to the water for a cool, soothing feel.

Take an herbal lung complex, available at most health food stores, to help reduce symptoms and speed healing. Look for the following ingredients: mullein, wild cherry bark, elecampane, platycodon root and ophiopogon rhizome (I used Mullein Lung Complex by Planetary Herbals). As always, consult your care provider first if you’re currently taking prescription medication or if nursing or pregnant.

Of course, as with any illness, get plenty of rest, drink lots of water and eat whole, healthy, nutritious foods.  Vitamins, hydration and sleep are essential to healing.

If your symptoms don’t lessen within a week, see your health care provider
. If at any point the mucus you cough up is green, brown, or reddish you may have an infection and should see a doctor as soon as possible. Bronchitis can develop into pneumonia if left unchecked.

Also check out my tips for nipping colds in the bud early with cheap, easy home remedies.

Stephanie Rogers is a fashion- and beauty-obsessed freelance writer with an abiding love for kale and organic wine, living in Asheville, North Carolina.