Acute bronchitis is the deep, wet, or dry cough that comes on and lingers after an infection, such as a cold, sinusitis, or the ﬂu. The cough, which may start out dry and then turn productive, is the body’s way of expelling infected mucus (phlegm) from the lungs. An episode of bronchitis may last for one to two weeks, and because a virus usually causes it, antibiotics may not be helpful. The best treatment is usually rest, combined with immune-enhancing natural therapies, as well as symptomatic therapy to calm the cough and promote removal of the mucus.
Chronic bronchitis develops in the continual presence of irritants, usually tobacco smoke, but also environmental allergies and damp, foggy weather; it sometimes results from food allergies. It often begins as a protracted case of acute bronchitis that returns every few months and, if the irritants are not removed, will develop into a constant cough, often accompanied by breathlessness and sometimes wheezing. The weakened condition of the lungs leaves the body vulnerable to infections like acute bronchitis, pneumonia, and emphysema. In its advanced stage, even minor colds can grow into deadly diseases. The best treatment is to eliminate the irritants that caused the con- dition. This is accomplished by identifying the offending allergens and removing them or reducing your body’s sensitivity to them.
• A cough that may start out dry but that turns deep and productive, with thick clear or yellow mucus
Usually follows a viral infection
• Long bouts of acute bronchitis that recur frequently
• A persistent, constant cough that’s worse upon waking
• Food or environmental allergens, causing excess mucus in the lungs
• Smoking or exposure to second- hand smoke
• Food allergies
• Environmental irritants (especially
• Viral infection
dust, pollen, animal dander, or mold)
• Cold, damp, foggy weather
To thin mucus secretions, drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours.
Homemade chicken soup also thins mucus. Add garlic or ginger for ﬂavor and immune support.
To reduce phlegm, have some hot barley soup.
Onions are an old folk remedy and have anti-inﬂammatory properties, so eat them often.
If you have bacterial bronchitis and are taking antibiotics, consume nondairy sour products, such as keﬁr or sauerkraut, daily to replenish disease-ﬁghting bacteria.
Food to Avoid
Eliminate foods that encourage mucus production: dairy products, chocolate, and bananas, as well as processed, reﬁned, fried, and junk foods. Avoid simple sugars, as they suppress immune function.
Fast on water, soup, juice, and herbal tea for a few days to let your body turn its full attention to ﬁghting the infection. Fasting will also speed the elimination of mucus, especially when expectorant herbal teas are part of the regimen. (See the herbal recommendations further on.)
Super Seven Prescriptions—Bronchitis
Super Prescription #1 N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
NAC reduces the viscosity of phlegm so that it is easier to expectorate. It’s useful for acute and chronic bronchitis (especially for smokers and people with asthma or emphysema). Take 300 to 500 mg twice daily.
Super Prescription #2 Homeopathy
Use a combination cough remedy, as directed on the container, or pick the rem- edy that best matches your symptoms under Homeopathy in this section. For acute
bronchitis, take a 30C potency four times daily. For chronic bronchitis, take twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive improvements. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Consultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.
Super Prescription #3 Vitamin C
Take 500 to 1,000 mg three times daily. It enhances immune function for acute bronchitis and has anti-allergy beneﬁts for chronic bronchitis. Vitamin C is par- ticularly important for smokers.
Super Prescription #4 Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Take 500 mg or 2 ml of this combination four times daily for acute bronchitis with a wet cough. Both herbs enhance immune function, and goldenseal works to dry up mucus.
Super Prescription #5 Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Take 500 mg of the capsule or 2 ml of the tincture four times daily. This herb pro- motes the discharge of mucus and has soothing/anti-inﬂammatory effects for the respiratory tract.
Super Prescription #6 Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
Astragalus is an excellent treatment for chronic, as well as acute, bronchitis. It strengthens weak lungs and increases the body’s general resistance to infection. Take 500 to 1,000 mg or 3.5 ml of a tincture two or three times daily. Do not take astragalus if you have a fever.
Super Prescription #7 Colloidal silver
Take one-half to 1 teaspoon, or as directed on the container, three times daily for ﬁve days. It has an antimicrobial effect, especially for bacteria.
The following test helps assess possible metabolic reasons for chronic bronchitis:
Food and environmental allergy testing—blood or electrodermal
Garlic (Allium sativum) has antimicrobial effects. Take 300 to 600 mg of garlic extract twice daily.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) reduces coughing, enhances immune function, and soothes the respiratory tract. Use caution when supplementing licorice if you have high blood pressure. It’s best used short term under the guidance of a holistic doctor. Take 500 mg of the capsule or 1 ml of the tincture four times daily.
Bromelain has a natural anti-inﬂammatory effect and enhances the effectiveness of some antibiotics. Take 500 mg three times daily between meals or along with antibi- otic therapy. Look for products standardized to 2,000 M.C.U. (milk-clotting units) per 1,000 mg or 1,200 G.D.U. (gelatin-dissolving units) per 1,000 mg.
Vitamin A enhances immune function. Take 25,000 to 50,000 IU daily for ﬁve days.
Ivy leaf (Hedera helix) may be helpful for chronic bronchitis for both children and adults. Take as directed on the container.
Other useful herbs that can be found in respiratory formulas include horehound, pleurisy root, plantain, marshmallow, ginger, peppermint, and cherry bark.
Antimonium Tartaricum is for a congested, wet cough that produces a rattling noise in the chest. The person has trouble expectorating and may ﬁnd it hard to breathe at times. The person feels better in a cool room and with the windows open.
Arsenicum Album is for a cough with a burning pain that feels better from taking sips of warm drinks. The person feels anxious and restless and may be very fatigued. Symptoms are worse from 12 A.M. to 2 A.M.
Bryonia (Bryonia alba) will treat a dry cough that causes stitching pain in the throat or the chest and that is worse at night. Movement of any type feels worse. The per- son has a great thirst and prefers to be left alone.
Coccus Cacti is for a cough that produces stringy mucus. The person feels like con- stantly clearing the throat. Coughing often leads to vomiting.
Drosera is for a dry, barking cough that may end in gagging. The cough is worse when lying down and is also worse after midnight.
Hepar Sulphuris (Hepar sulphuris calcareum) is for a rattling, barking cough that comes on after exposure to dry, cold air. The person coughs when uncovered and feels chilly and irritable. There is often yellowish mucus.
Kali Bichromium is for a hoarse cough that produces thick, stringy, yellow mucus. The cough is worse from eating and drinking.
Phosphorous is for a dry, tickling cough that is worse in the cold air, with talking or laughing, and when lying on the left side. The person may have a burning sensa- tion in the chest and feels better with cold drinks.
Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla pratensis) will clear up a cough with yellow or green phlegm that is looser in the morning and drier at night. The person has a low thirst and feels better near an open window. The cough is worse when the person lies down.
Rumex Crispus is for a dry cough that begins as soon as a person lies down. The person feels a tickling sensation in the throat that leads to a cough. The cough is worse in cold air.
Silica (Silicea) is for someone who seems to have bronchitis all winter long. The person has weak immunity and low stamina and feels chilly. Coughing up mucus takes a lot of effort.
Spongia Tosta helps when one has a dry, barking cough that is better after ingest- ing warm foods or liquids.
Sulphur is for bronchitis with burning pains that are better after having cold drinks. The person feels warm and desires a cool room. Sulphur is often used after a long bout of bronchitis, for complete recovery.
• To relieve chest congestion, massage Kidney 27, Conception Vessel 22, and
Lung 1 and 7.
• If you have difﬁculty breathing and need to calm your emotions, use Bladder
A back massage will break up excess phlegm. If you have chronic bronchitis, you might want to schedule regular sessions with a professional massage therapist. If you’re generally a strong and healthy person, ask your therapist to use percussive motions, which are highly effective at releasing phlegm. People who suffer from an occasional bout of acute bronchitis might prefer to rely on a loved one to perform this task each evening.
Sit in a hot, steamy bath or a sauna to thin mucus secretions and sweat out toxins. If you have hypertension, do not use saunas.
Constitutional hydrotherapy works well for acute and chronic bronchitis. Follow the directions for treatment on pages 676–677.
Add eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon balm, or tree tea oil to a hot bath or a steam inhalation to drain congestion. You can also add any of these oils to a base oil and rub it directly onto your chest.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Stress can weaken your immune system, leaving your lungs open to infection. If you’re vulnerable to frequent bouts of bronchitis, or if you suffer from chronic bronchitis, experiment with the techniques in the Exercise and Stress Reduction chapter until you ﬁnd ones you like. Practice them on a daily basis, or more often as needed.
Bach Flower Remedies
Select the remedy that meets your needs, and place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
Take Clematis if you tend to give in whenever you feel a respiratory infection coming on.
Red Chestnut is for people who worry a great deal about their loved ones, even to the extent of neglecting themselves.
• Rest, preferably in bed, while the illness is at its worst. When you feel better, move around to keep the infection from settling into your lungs, but continue to rest after periods of activity.
• Don’t take a cough suppressant. The lungs need to expel phlegm to get healthy, and suppressants keep them from doing so. Consistent use of suppressants
can lead to worse cases of acute bronchitis or even to chronic bronchitis or pneumonia.
• Encourage expectoration by applying warm compresses to your chest.
• Don’t smoke or expose yourself to secondhand smoke.
• If you have chronic bronchitis and live in a damp, cold climate, you may have to move to another location that’s dry and warm. You should have your doctor consider mold allergies as a possible cause of chronic bronchitis.
• People with chronic bronchitis need to keep their lungs as elastic and strong as possible. Exercise, breath deeply, and, if you enjoy music, take up a wind instrument.