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Top 10 Herbs For The Lungs

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Herbs For The Lungs
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Herbs background pic © Africa Studio -
Lungs pic - Wikipedia (public domain)

Everyone knows the significance of the lungs in their work day in and day out to bring in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide wastes and in effect, promote your overall bodily functioning. Aside from facilitating this exchange and acting as a cushion surrounding your heart, the lungs also filter out small blood clots along the veins. [1]

Yet, even with an awareness of the lungs' important functions, increasing air pollution levels and poor breathing are causing the lungs not to perform at their peak. [2] Moreover, smoking, vitamin A deficiency, certain over-the-counter cold medications and even traumatic experiences have led to common lung conditions like asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, tuberculosis, pulmonary edema, pneumonia and cancer. In fact, the American Lung Association reports lung cancer being the leading cancer killer today. [1]

However, there are herbs like the below that specifically promote healthier functioning of the lungs. They act by aiding activities of the mucous membrane for smoother gas exchange, stimulating lung tissue secretions to protect the membranes and adequately moisten the air, improving brain processes that control breathing and boosting blood circulation surrounding the lung tissues. [3]

Top 10 Herbs For The Lungs:


Both the flower and leaves of mullein are favourite natural remedies because they have been successfully used to combat colds, bronchitis, flu, emphysema and laryngitis among others. [1] As a relaxing expectorant, mullein has been found by herbal experts to contain saponines that soothe bronchial spasm to clear out sticky phlegm and thick mucus. As a mild sedative, mullein has been shown to fight inflamed nerves along the respiratory tract and relieve pain. [3]


Considered a demulcent herb which contains a great deal of vegetable gum to lubricate surfaces, licorice likewise softens and moistens irritated or inflamed mucous membranes and reduces the spasm that triggers coughing. [3] A recent study showed that licochalcone A, a flavonoid in licorice root known for its antimicrobial property, also promotes anti-inflammatory activities to prevent cancer cell proliferation and improve acute lung injury. The active ingredients in licorice significantly drive down inflammatory cells, lung wet-to-dry ratio and protein leakage. [4]

Gingko Biloba

Research on gingko's efficacy on various diseases has been far and wide and fresh evidence also indicates its protective value on lung injury. A 2012 experiment on dogs undergoing hypothermic cardiopulmonary bypass showed gingko biloba extracts stimulate systematic inflammatory response among the lung tissue samples collected. [5]


This is an anti-microbial herb known to fight pathogenic microorganism while strengthening the body's immune system. Echinacea works by activating white blood cell production and aggressiveness. [3] Studies that investigated the effects of the rhinovirus demonstrated how formulation of Echinacea can reverse the infection caused by this virus in human airway epithelium and improve the mucous secretion stimulated by rhinovirus. Likewise, experts believe Echinacea may reduce mucus production during colds. [6]


Like Echinacea, rosemary is an anti-microbial herb that contains potent oils which have antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Herbal practitioners have long used rosemary for alleviating colds, sore throats, flu, coughs, bronchitis and chest infections. [3] One of the components of rosemary is carnosol which, in 2011 was evaluated for its anti-lung cancer properties. Researchers in Chicago have found carnosol to possess selective toxicity towards cancer cells without destroying non-tumorigenic cells. It was also found to be well-tolerated when given to animals. [7]


Considered as the world’s fastest growing tree with over 700 varieties and 300 species, eucalyptus is one of the magnificent herbs you can find today. Since time immemorial the oil derived from this tree is used to treat various respiratory conditions including influenza, meningitis, common colds, fever, sore throat, sinusitis and bronchitis. Eucalyptus is actually known for its powerful antiseptic, expectorant, vermifuge, analgesic, decongestant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and antiviral properties, several of which can benefit the lungs. [8]

Eucalyptus is also believed to be beneficial to the lungs because of its cineole content. This active ingredient acts as a powerful expectorant that eases cough and fight various types of respiratory problems. In fact, one study claimed that intake of 200 grams of cineole for three times a day can help in improving the symptoms of viral sinusitis. One study in Spain further claimed that eucalyptus brings about anti-inflammatory effects because of its natural ability to inhibit the production of nitric oxide. Eucalyptus is further believed to have antioxidant properties that strengthen the immune system during illness helps the body fight against infections. [9]

Irish Moss

A fantastic seaweed, Irish Moss is an amazing herb that is capable of treating a host of respiratory illnesses. In fact, it is one of the core ingredients of many prescriptions drugs used to treat bronchitis, cough and other lung problems. In addition to the fact that this herb is an excellent source of magnesium, iodine, sodium and calcium, Irish moss is noted for its anti-viral properties that help fight against mumps and influenza B viruses. [10]

Irish moss is also known for its anti-inflammatory, demulcent and expectorant properties. It is even used to speed up recuperation from illnesses like pneumonia and tuberculosis. [11] For thousands of years, Chinese herbalists have been using Irish moss to treat respiratory illnesses like cold, flu, pneumonia, dry cough, and sore throat. Irish moss is also capable of abating the symptoms of common colds and flu. In addition to its ability to relieve unproductive dry coughs, Irish moss is known to contain potassium chloride that dissolves catharrs, which are responsible for congestion associated with coughs. [12]


Known for its aniselike aroma, hyssop is a fragrant herb that is scientifically proven to be good for the lungs. It contains expectorant properties that eliminate congestion of the lungs that are normally caused by sinusitis and other viral infections. Furthermore, hyssop has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and diaphoretic properties that are known to help reduce fever and get rid of unwanted toxins out of the body. [13]

When taken as a syrup, hyssop makes an effective reliever for stubborn coughs and other pulmonary infections. In general, we can say that hyssop is capable of treating all sorts of lung problems which include cough, cold, and asthma, as well as fever, stomach problems, bruises, inflammation, and high blood pressure. [14]

Slippery Elm

A wonderful herb that is known to treat a wide range of health conditions, slippery elm also makes an excellent herb for the entire respiratory system of the body. The herb contains a perfect blend of anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, mucilage, diuretic, emollient, laxative and expectorant properties which makes it a good herb for the lungs. It is actually beneficial in treating bronchitis, bleeding from the lungs, and coughs. It can also be use in soothing mucous membranes and the entire respiratory system in general. [15]

This herb also contains anti-allergenic and antiseptic properties which makes it an effective herb in treating asthma. By softening mucous membranes in the nose, slippery elm offers immense relief to different respiratory conditions. [16]


Known for its healing benefits, coltsfoot is a powerful herb that can be very beneficial to the lungs. Widely cultivated in Asia and Europe, coltsfoot makes an excellent remedy for whooping cough, common colds, and other types of lung ailments. In general, this herb is capable of relieving the symptoms of bronchitis. Furthermore, it is capable of healing the mucous membranes, and as a potent expectorant, it helps the body get rid of mucus. Lastly, its anti-inflammatory effects enable the fast recovery of infected and irritated lungs and the respiratory system in general. [17]

Herbs For Lungs - References:




[4] Licochalcone a inhibits lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory response in vitro and in vivo.

[5] Protective effects of Ginkgo biloba extract on the lung injury of dogs undergoing hypothermic cardiopulmonary bypass.

[6] The efficacy of Echinacea in a 3-D tissue model of human airway epithelium.

[7] Carnosol: a promising anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent.











Article researched and created by Cathy Ongking, © 2013

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