The production of mucus is a normal process in the respiratory system. This mucus usually has a thin viscosity. The purpose of mucus is to trap irritants through the action of filtration in order to ensure that the air inhaled is clean. The result is increased viscosity that leads to thick mucus – this is what is referred to as phlegm. Typically, phlegm production increases when one is suffering from a respiratory infection. It is also one of the common symptoms of colds and allergens present in the upper respiratory tract.
For many people, the difference between normal production of mucus and phlegm may be confusing. An easy way to tell whether what you have is phlegm or not is to check whether there is a persistent need to clear your throat. This is usually accompanied by a runny nose and constant coughing. Some individuals may get a stuffy nose, bodily fatigue as well as fever in extreme cases.
Phlegm has a tendency to accumulate in he respiratory tract, thus causing congestion within the chest. This in turn creates the need to cough which creates a frustrating cycle of events. While phlegm does not constitute a medical emergency, it can be very irritating to deal with. The good news is that there are a number of natural remedies that you can use to reduce the occurrence of phlegm. These home remedies have minimal side effects, making them perfect for many individuals across the board.
NB: Since phlegm is often accompanied by a congested chest, a runny nose and persistent coughing, many of the remedies listed below will tend to overlap with those recommended for the aforementioned conditions.
1. Steam Therapy:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Boiling water in a bowl, a clean towel/piece of cloth, skin moisturizer.
Steam therapy is one of the most effective remedies in the management of phlegm. Inhaling the steam as it rises from the water allows the loosening of phlegm, thus improving its viscosity. This in turn, makes it easy to get rid of the phlegm. A point of caution, however, is to make sure that the steam does not come into direct contact with the skin owing to the risk of scalding. For this reason, this remedy is not recommended for use in infants, babies, toddlers and the elderly.
- Place boiling water in a bowl, taking care not to spill the water.
- You will then drape a towel over your head and inhale the steam for about 10 minutes.
- Deep inhalations are the secret to effective steam therapy, so make sure that you are breathing in deeply.
- Once the water is just warm enough, replace it with another bowl of water and repeat the deep inhalations.
- Do this twice daily for best results.
- The other alternative to steam therapy aside from the inhalation is taking a steam shower. Staying in the enclosed bathroom allows the steam to saturate your body thus loosening phlegm accumulated in the respiratory tract with remarkable ease.
NOTE: It is important to make sure that you moisturize the skin after using this remedy as the steam has a tendency to strip the skin of moisture which predisposes you to dry skin.
2. Gargling Warm Salty Water:
Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: Quarter teaspoon of salt, warm water in a glass.
Salty water gargle is a timeless remedy used in the treatment of phlegm at home. This is because the salt used in the remedy acts as an antibacterial agent that effectively gets rid of any infection-causing pathogens. Consequently, this reduces the amount of phlegm produced. The use of warm water as opposed to cold water works towards the natural treatment of the condition as the warmth goes a long way in soothing the throat thus reducing the irritation.
- Add the salt to the glass of warm water and stir well to ensure complete dissolution.
- Gargle the salty solution for some 5 minutes at a go.
- Repeat this procedure severally during the day or as often as you would require relief from the phlegm.
3. Ginger + Honey:
Time Required: 25 Min
What You Need: 100 gm of fresh ginger root (ginger powder may be used in place of the root), 2 tablespoons of raw organic honey, a microwave and a grater
Ginger is an excellent home remedy for a wide range of conditions. This is because of its wide array of medicinal properties that make it one of the most sought after natural treatments for conditions such as phlegm. To get the most from ginger, it is recommended that you use the fresh root. In its absence however, ginger powder will work too.
Raw organic honey is added to this remedy because, just like ginger, it has a wide array of medicinal benefits. Its antimicrobial properties work well to eliminate any infection-causing pathogens that may be present in the respiratory tract. Additionally, honey soothes the irritated throat, which in turn makes it easier to eliminate the phlegm.
- Peel the fresh ginger root, clean well and put aside.
- Place 2 tablespoons of the raw organic honey and place in a bowl before microwaving for about 10 seconds.
- This is done to get rid of any crystallized honey as well as to make it easy for the two ingredients to mix.
- Take 2 tablespoons of the raw organic honey
- Grate the ginger root so that you have small gratings which you can then add to the honey.
- Mix the ginger gratings with the honey well.
- Take a tablespoon of this mixture thrice daily for a period of about three days or until the phlegm is cleared.
3. Good Old Chicken Soup:
Time Required: Depends on the recipe used
What You Need: Chicken soup prepared using your choice recipe.
Chicken soup has been passed down as a preferred home remedy for getting rid of phlegm, and for good reason. The soup contains nutrients that boost one’s immunity, thus making it easy to deal with any infections that may be present. In addition, the warmth of the soup moisturizes the air passages while thinning the phlegm and making it easy to eliminate. Overall, warm chicken soup soothes an irritated throat that is the result of persistent coughing. If you would prefer, make the soup spicy. Increased spices go a long way in loosening the phlegm, thus providing quick relief.
- Prepare the chicken soup as directed in your choice recipe.
4. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Two tablespoons of lemon juice, a tablespoon of honey, a glass of hot water. The following are optional: a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper and sliced lemon.
Lemons are a great natural remedy for you if you need relief from phlegm. At the core of using lemon juice is the fact that it has a high concentration of Vitamin C. This helps build the immune system as well as facilitate better immune response. Lemon juice also contains antibacterial properties that go a long way in combating throat infections that increase the production of phlegm. There are two ways to use lemon as a natural remedy: the first involves using the squeezed juice while the second uses lemon wedges.
Using the freshly squeezed Lemon Juice:
- Place the freshly squeezed lemon juice in a bowl and the honey to it.
- Mix the two ingredients well before stirring them in the glass of hot water.
- Drink this concoction at least thrice daily until you get relief.
Using the Lemon Wedges:
- Sprinkle the salt and pepper on the lemon wedge and allow the two to set in.
- Suck on the wedges for a few minutes at a time. While this is a bitter remedy, it certainly goes a long way in helping get rid of the phlegm. (If you are daring enough, simply chew on the lemon wedges and get a kick out of treating phlegm naturally).
5. Cayenne Pepper:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper, fresh ginger rot, a tablespoon of honey, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and two tablespoons of drinking water.
Cayenne pepper is a hot spice, quite literally. This has multiple benefits for you if you suffer from phlegm. The heat of the pepper thins the mucus accumulated as a result of phlegm while relaxing the air passages. Cayenne pepper also has the advantage of soothing the chest and the irritated throat.
- Mix all of the ingredients in a glass and stir well to get an even blend.
- Take this mixture thrice daily to help you decrease the production of phlegm in the respiratory tract.
Tip: You can also add cayenne pepper to your meals to compliment the use of this remedy.
6. Grape Juice:
Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: Fresh grapes/ grape juice and two tablespoons of honey.
Grape juice is an incredible home remedy used for the natural treatment of phlegm and other conditions which lead to the accumulation of mucus in the respiratory tract. This works well because grapes are natural expectorants. When taken in juice form, and combined with honey, the sum benefits if this remedy help reduce the amount of phlegm produced.
- Squeeze the fresh grapes to get some juice.
- Take two tablespoons of the grape juice and add the honey.
- Mix the two ingredients well and take this concoction thrice daily for a week or until the phlegm clears.
7. Turmeric Herb:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A teaspoon of turmeric powder and a glass of warm water.
Turmeric is best known as a natural remedy, thanks to its excellent anti-inflammatory properties. This works to reduce inflammation and soothe the throat to clear any irritation. Additionally, the herb’s antiseptic properties help destroy any infection-causing pathogens responsible for the excessive production of mucus. Alongside these benefits, the herb’s immune-boosting properties make it a recommended home remedy for treating phlegm.
- Add a teaspoon of turmeric to a glass of hot water and stir well.
- Sip on this mixture at least twice daily for a couple of days.
NOTE: A number of individuals may prefer using a glass of hot milk to water, but research has shown that milk increases the production of mucus. This counteracts the benefits of turmeric, making a glass of water the better option.
Other home remedies that can be used in the treatment of phlegm include bay leaf which offers immediate relief, oregano oil thanks to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties as well as eucalyptus oil. Unlike oregano oil which can be ingested and added to food, eucalyptus oil MUST not be used internally as it is toxic to the body. Instead, the oil is mixed with a choice carrier oil such as coconut oil before it is applied topically to the chest region. Herbal teas such as mint tea, chamomile tea and lavender tea are great at loosening phlegm and making it easy to get rid of too. As a general rule, it is very important to stay hydrated in order to increase the body’s ability to get rid of phlegm.