As air quality levels continue to degrade between environmental pollution, chemical pollution and geoengineering--lung disease, infections and illness continue to rise. Herbal remedies not only boost lung health, but they can heal infections which cause the most common coughs.
A typical cough starts with a deep breath, followed by a compression of air in the lungs and then a crackling burst as that air is forced out in a fraction of a second.
1) CHRONIC DRY COUGH
A stubborn dry cough that comes and goes, but never quite disappears. A chronic cough is not a disease in itself. It is a sign of something wrong with the breathing system. It's called a dry cough because it doesn't produce phlegm. It usually occurs during the day, prompting a coughing fit that can last three to ten minutes. In extreme cases, sufferers experience oulled muscles, incontinence and even fractured ribs.
CAUSE: Such coughs used to be simply written off as 'unexplained'. But doctors have recently discovered that in some cases the problem is hypersensitivity in the upper-airways, triggered by a reflux of gas from the stomach. Dry coughs are usually caused by allergies, colds and bronchitis.
Certain medications can cause coughing, particularly ACE inhibitors, prescribed for high blood pressure. This -usually happens in about 15 percent of people who use them -- possibly because the drugs stop the breakdown of a naturally-occurring chemical called bradykinin which, in turn, makes the nerve endings in the lungs more sensitive to irritation.
Once this hypersensitivity has set in, sufferers will have a coughing fit if anything -- such as dust or cold air -- touches their throat. However, not everyone who has gas reflux will develop a cough as a symptom.
A chemical found in cocoa and chocolate appears to suppress coughs and could potentially be developed into an effective treatment, according to the results of a small new study.
PLANTAIN LEAF - Plantain leaf is exceptional for dry coughs as it promotes spawning mucus production in the lungs. any of its active constituents show antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as being anti-inflammatory and antitoxic.
Eucalyptus is a common ingredient in cough lozenges and syrups and its effectiveness is due to a compound called cineole. Cineole has numerous benefits -- it's an expectorant and can ease dry coughs while soothing irritated sinus passages. As an added bonus, because eucalyptus contains antioxidants, it supports the immune system during a cold or other illness.
One of the problems with chronic dry coughs is the tightening of smooth muscles. Peppermint, and peppermint oil, contains menthol -- a soothing ingredient known to relax the smooth muscles of the respiratory tract and promote free breathing. Many people use therapeutic chest balms and other inhalants that contain menthol to ease dry coughs.
The juice from fresh pineapples is also known to suppress coughs of this type five times more effectively than cough syrup.
2) CHESTY COUGH
This brings up lots of phlegm -- and there can be wheezing, chest tightness and some difficulty breathing. Chesty coughs are triggered by an excessive amount of mucus in the chest. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as mucous coughs.
It's often worse in the mornings and the -winter, as it's exacerbated by viruses that affect the lungs.
CAUSE: Cold and flu viruses and these infections are the most common cause of chesty mucous coughs. Other lung infections Ã¢â‚¬“ a wide variety of other infections, ranging from pneumonia to TB (tuberculosis), can give rise to a chesty cough. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) -- the collective name for lung conditions, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is commonly caused by smoking and usually produces chesty coughs.
The important thing is to notice symptoms that haven't happened before, such as this chesty cough or breathlessness.
Chaparral contains powerful antioxidants that resist irritation. It is also an herb that fights harmful organisms common in chesty coughs. The benefits of chaparral are most available in a tincture extraction but chaparral tea may support respiratory problems by encouraging an expectorant action to clear airways of mucus.
Sage's textured leaves give off a heady aroma, which arises from sage's essential oils. These oils are the source of the many benefits of sage tea for lung problems and common respiratory ailments. Sage tea is a traditional treatment for sore throats and chest coughs. The rich aromatic properties arising from sage's volatile oils of thujone, camphor, terpene and salvene can be put to use by inhaling sage tea's vapors to dispel lung disorders and sinusitis. Alternatively, brew a strong pot of sage tea and place it into a bowl or a vaporizer.
Medicinal value of turmeric is due to the compound curcumin. There are three different curcuminoids present in turmeric they are diferuloylmethane, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Of the three diferuloylmethane is present in higher amounts and is responsible for the color and medicinal value of the herb. Curcumin serves as an anti-inflammatory agent and also possess anti-bacterial and anti-viral action. These properties of turmeric aid in treatment of bacterial and viral infections involved in chest coughs. Use of volatile oil extracted from turmeric for cough is also very promising in relieving cough by getting rid of phlegm.
3) THROAT--CLEARING COUGH
It feels like you have a lump in your throat and coughing leaves you with a nasty, bitter taste in the mouth. The cough can be triggered by talking, laughing, singing or eating particularly dry food. It also tends to occur at night.
CAUSE: The most likely cause is stomach acid reflux -- this affects about 25 percent of the adult Western population. As the lining of the esophagus is extremely soft and sensitive, this leads to inflammation, which triggers a coughing fit.
Reflux can lead to a condition called Barrett's esophagus -- this causes abnormalities in the cells and raises the risk of oesophageal cancer.
SLIPPERY ELM - Slippery elm contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. It coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines. It also contains antioxidants that help relieve inflammatory coughs. Slippery elm also causes reflux stimulation of nerve endings in the gastrointestinal tract leading to increased mucus secretion.
A tree-growing lichen, lungwort actually resembles lung tissue in appearance. However, this natural remedy doesn't just look the part. As early as the 1600s, lungwort has been used to promote lung and respiratory health and clear congestion. Pulmonaria selections come in all kinds so seek an herbologist for direction. Lungwort also contains compounds that are powerfully effective against harmful organisms that affect respiratory health, especially those related to acid reflux.
4) CHRONIC, TICKLY COUGH
Tickly coughs are closely related to dry coughs and are sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. Both these types of coughs may be referred to as dry tickly coughs. Although this cough is non-productive and doesn't produce phlegm, you feel as if mucus or catarrh is dripping down the back of your throat. Sometimes it can also feel as if there's a lump in the throat.
CAUSE: This is known as a post-nasal drip -- the cause of about 7 percent of coughs, says Professor Peter Barnes, head of -respiratory medicine at Imperial College, London. But they may also be caused by colds and flu. If our immune system is not able to overcome this infection, viruses enter the tissues of the upper airways, causing inflammation.
Normally, we produce up to four pints of clear thin mucus every day from the glands which line the nose and sinuses. This usually drips unnoticed down your throat.
Tickly coughs can be triggered by pollution, a smoky atmosphere or cold air. This is because the particles in the air you breathe are trapped by the mucous lining of your throat, causing irritation and the need to cough.
Hayfever can also cause tickly coughs. The body reacts to the presence of pollen by releasing large amounts of the chemical histamine. This causes inflammation of the respiratory tracts, potentially leading to a tickly cough.
Both the flowers and the leaves of the mullein plant are used to make an herbal extract that helps strengthen the lungs. Mullein is used by herbal practitioners to cleanse the bronchial tubes, and reduce inflammation that is present in the respiratory tract. A tea can be made from one teaspoon of the dried herb to one cup of boiled water. Alternatively, you can take a tincture form of this herb.
Great for coughs, as a steam (to be inhaled), or applied, hot to the chest. Young pine shoots, picked in spring when the needles are still green and soft, have been used for many decades as a traditional remedy for dry, tickly or irritating coughs.
SPRUCE - Previous generations used in respiratory diseases spruce resin, branches and shoots for inhalations. Today it is probably easier for this purpose purchase essential oils, which can be applied either to the aromatic lamps, or the classical pathway - for inhalation of hot water.