Essential plant oils, juices, soups and even just plain water can help you expel phlegm and get over a cold. If you use these remedies frequently, consult with your doctor.
Jorge Vega Bravo – General practitioner and acupuncturist
During winter or with sudden changes in temperature, it is very likely for colds or lung and bronchial infections to occur. These organs fill with mucus (phlegm), preventing you from breathing normally and causing frequent coughing.
In order to help expel the phlegm, visit your doctor for recommendations, especially if your symptoms persist or worsen.
It is important to keep in mind that natural expectorants should not be used in excess. General practitioner and acupuncturist Jorge Vega Bravo clarifies, “All medicines, both conventional and natural, undergo chemical processes. In fact, many expectorants you can get at the pharmacy are plant-based.” If alternative treatments are followed, it is best for a specialist to monitor the intake and dosage of these substances as many of their ingredients have contraindications and side effects.
Vega also explains that some natural expectorants contain spicy substances, such as ginger (which is not suitable for people with high blood pressure), that have the power to dislodge phlegm from the airways and produce a slight bronchodilator effect. Other spicy substances include radishes, onion, garlic, peppers, chili peppers, black pepper and cumin (these last three are not suitable for people who have celiac disease: intolerance to the gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye).
Other expectorants contain essential plant oils such as rosemary and thyme, which can generate heat in the chest and dislodge phlegm.
As natural as water
The best expectorant is water because it helps to dissolve mucus and expel it with ease. It also hydrates and keeps the airways moist, reducing irritation.
Other liquids such as teas, juices and freshly squeezed acidic juices can also be consumed. Foods with plenty of water as well as fresh fruits and vegetables also help to improve colds. Examples include: fresh pineapple, apples, cranberries, pears, kiwis, tomatoes and broccoli, among others.
Soups such as vegetable and chicken soup help because the hot liquid has an anti-inflammatory effect. Chicken soup is especially good for coughs.
Other foods that serve as expectorants include ginger, mandarins, onions, honey, cinnamon, garlic and radishes (radishes are not suitable for those who suffer from hyperthyroidism).
Plants such as elder, lungwort, eucalyptus, rosemary and thyme are also expectorants. They have specific uses which vary depending on the variety: some serve as teas, steam inhalations or are best taken as syrups. The oils of other plants can be used by adding them to a plant that is being boiled (to breathe in its vapor), by placing drops on a cloth to inhale frequently or by massaging them on the chest and back.
“The production of phlegm and fluid in the body is mostly regulated by the pancreas. When this organ is triggered by sugar, refined flour, milk, dairy products and sweets, mucus is produced in the lungs and large intestine. Fluids must therefore first be decreased for phlegm to be reduced,” explains Jorge Vega. It is also helpful to avoid exposure to any flow of cold air •
- Ginger is covered in a brown peel that can be removed with the edge of a spoon to help maximize the use of the root. It is rich in essential oils, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids and provides many benefits to the human body. This root is spicy in flavor.
- Honey is mainly used to sweeten and prepare foods, but its main benefit is in its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and calming properties.
- Eucalyptus leaves are fragrant and rich in essential oils. Its main component is eucalyptol, a strong mucolytic (expectorant) that makes lung secretions less thick and helps break them down.