Congestion alone can be the bane of a cold, allergies or the flu. When congestion is just one of other multiple symptoms it can make an illness almost unbearable. Most congestion is a result of some type of fungi, bacterial or viral infection. When the sinuses become irritated and the mucus linings get inflamed, tiny blood vessels swell with extra fluid and the end result is congestion. This gives a stuffy feeling in the nose. But congestion can occur in the chest too. Mucus that is produced during a cold or allergic episode is there because the body is attempting to protect the sensitive respiratory lining and wash away the irritant or infection.
Eucalyptus, tea tree, menthol or peppermint oil is great for breaking up and decreasing congestion in the chest, head, or sinuses. It can help to clear away stuffiness. For the best results, place a small amount of oil in a bowl of steaming hot water, a steam inhaler or even a humidifier. Inhaling warm steam soothes the nasal passages while the herbs can help to clear the congestion. Place a towel over your head and breathe the steam in deeply. Adding lavender or lemon to steam can be effective with reducing congestion also. Herbs like basil, thyme or rosemary can be used as well. Take care when using aromatherapy along with inhaling steam; it can trigger an attack in asthmatics. Plain steam can still offer relief. Aromatic herbs can also be used in a warm compress to alleviate congestion symptoms though. In addition dissolvable herb infused tablets placed in a hot shower can offer temporary relief.
Cayenne pepper can be used to help reduce inflammation and swelling of the sinuses and chest. It can dry up nasal discharge from colds or allergies. Add it to chilli, tacos or another favorite dish. Wasabi can get congested sinuses flowing and help to drain the extra mucus. Hot liquids in general can also help to thin out the mucous and keep it clear.
Anise is another herb that can help to break up chest congestion. Anise gives licorice its flavor and can be used in teas. It can be found as an ingredient in lozenges and some cold medicines. It helps with expectorating phlegm. Black and green teas have an added benefit of antioxidants to help to fight off colds while helping to hydrate the body. Chamomile tea can help to reduce inflammation.
Don’t rule out a hot soup with ginger or lemongrass either. A spicy hot soup with red pepper can be just as good at helping to alleviate congestion. Asian curative methods have used hot soups incorporated with herbs and spices to help ease congestion and respiratory infections for years. Spicy foods may also help drain and thin mucus and may get rid of congestion altogether or at least minimize it.
Not only has garlic been used to remedy certain symptoms for thousands of years, it contains antioxidants too which helps to fend off free radicals that may lead to an illness. Garlic, in the medical world, is known to have antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties.
Staying hydrated can definitely help thin mucus out and keep it fluid. But drinking hot herbal tea, hot soups with added herbs can aid in relieving congestion as well. Drinking plenty of water will help too.
Lavery, Susan. “Herbs for Nasal Congestion.” LiveStrong.com. 5 Jan. 2010. 5 Feb. 2013. http://www.livestrong.com/article/70696-herbs-nasal-congestion/.
Marks, Diane. “Garlic & Congestion.” LiveStrong.com. 7 Dec. 2010. 7 Feb. 2013. http://www.livestrong.com/article/327650-garlic-congestion/.
Understanding Common Cold Treatments. WebMD.com. 15 Apr. 2012. 5 Feb. 2013.