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Home Remedies for Chest Congestion

Lois has over ten years' experience in the home/herbal remedy field. She seeks to inform her readers and help them save money.

Suffer from chest congestion? These remedies can help.

Suffer from chest congestion? These remedies can help.

Cold and flu season is a terrible time of year. It comes with a wide variety of symptoms including fevers, chills, headaches, stuffiness, sneezing and coughing. As your body recovers, one of the lingering symptoms that likes to stick around is chest congestion. It seems like that any time you draw a breath, it is painful. Your chest feels tight and you wheeze whenever you inhale and exhale. You are coughing constantly, trying to get rid of the mucous that is blocking your airways. “When will this end,” you may be asking yourself. You already may have been using countless over-the-counter medications to relieve yourself of this. There are many home remedies that you may find effective

Horse radish is excellent for clearing up chest congestion and chest colds.  All you need is a tablespoon.  Make sure you have a tissue nearby because this will clear out your sinuses as well.

Horse radish is excellent for clearing up chest congestion and chest colds. All you need is a tablespoon. Make sure you have a tissue nearby because this will clear out your sinuses as well.


Taking a tablespoon of honey helps reduce the amount of coughing that you suffer from. However, you can increase the efficacy of this solution by combining this sweetener with other infection fight herbs.

Thyme, an herb popular in cooking, contains expectorant properties that are effective for coughs. It also contains flavonoids which play a role in thinning out mucus. You can make a tea out of this herb by infusing 3-4 leaves in a cup of hot water. Add a teaspoon or more of honey. Including this tea during cold and flu season may even protect you from having chest congestion if the first place.

Cowslip root not only helps reduce the amount of phlegm from your lungs, it contains sedative properties. Since sleep is necessary for your immune system to fight infections, this herb is effective in helping you sleep. Make a tea by slicing off a quarter-inch piece of root and putting it in a cup of hot water. Add honey and drink.

Ginger is very effective when it comes to fighting and preventing chest congestion because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Cup up a quarter of an inch piece of ginger root and add it to a cup of hot water. Allow it to brew for at least ten minutes. Add a teaspoon each of honey and lemon juice and drink. This herb can also be used in many meat, fish and soup dishes.

Take a teaspoon of warm honey and add a small amount of ginger paste to it. Give it to your child up to two times a day. If your child is six years old or younger, only give this once a day.

As a precaution, never give honey to a child who is under one year old.

Antioxidant Fruits and Vegetables

Nutrition is very important when you are suffering from chest congestion. The first thing is to look for food that is high in anti-oxidants. The main reason why you fall sick in the first place is your body gets exposed to an illness. The first few cells that are exposed to the illness spread it to the remaining cells. Antioxidants play a role in attacking the damaged cells to prevent further havoc. If you include antioxidant-rich foods in your diet, you may prevent many illnesses. Some fruits and vegetables to include in your diet are:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Kiwi
  • Figs
  • Papayas
  • Mangos
  • Pomegranates
  • Collard greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Kale
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Leeks
  • Chard
  • Spinach
  • Spring Greens
  • Turnip Greens
  • Garden Cress
  • Watercress
  • Beet and radish greens

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods contain anti-inflammatory properties, which plays in the role of reducing the inflammation of chest congestion. They also contain expectorant properties that help make coughs more productive. Along with the infection-fighting properties, there are many to choose from. Some may be hotter than others. Therefore, if you are unsure if you can handle the spiciness, start out with a little and adjust accordingly. While ginger is mentioned above, other spices to include in your cooking area:

  • Black Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chili
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Curry Powder
  • Fennel Seed
  • Fenugreek
  • Horseradish
  • Mustard Seed
  • Nutmeg
  • Turmeric
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Vitamin C

Include food that is high in vitamin C. This vitamin not only speeds up the healing of chest congestions, it also acts as a natural antihistamine which helps reduce irritation in the lungs and airways. Foods to include are:

  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Oranges

It is always important to keep drinking fluids while you are fighting chest congestion. The vitamin C from juices helps boost your immune system so you can recover quicker. However, water is important as well. It plays a role in flushing toxins from your system and keeps your body hydrated. When you are dehydrated, the mucus in your chest becomes thicker. Therefore, drinking water allows the mucous to thin and it will make it easier to cough up. You should avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages while you are sick since these can dehydrate you.

Garlic and Onions

Garlic is a cure-all for many health ailments and conditions because of its infection-fighting properties. You can eat a clove or two, take a teaspoon of this herb in the minced form or just include it in your cooking. The more garlic you eat, the quicker your chest congestion will heal.

Onions are another herb that has infection-fighting properties and can be used in your cooking. However, they also make an effective chest rub. To do this, dice up a small onion and cook it in oil. When they are transparent, allow them to cool and place them on your chest. Cover them with a warm towel and allow it to stay on your chest for thirty minutes. The oils from the onions help stimulate blood flow which, in turn, helps break up the mucus. You can make a larger amount and store it in your refrigerator. Warm up what you need in the microwave for thirty seconds.

Avoid dairy products while you are fighting chest congestion. These play a role in the formation of mucous. Foods that have high sugar content should also be avoided.

Honey is excellent for many symptoms of colds and the Flu.  However, do not give it to children who are under 1 year old.

Honey is excellent for many symptoms of colds and the Flu. However, do not give it to children who are under 1 year old.

Herbal Teas

Drinking tea is a common practice for cold and flu season. The warmth of the liquid is soothing for any throat irritations that you may get due to coughing and plays a role in moistening your airways. While it is convenient to grab a bag of your nearest Lipton tea bad, you might want to consider switching to herbal teas. Not only do these not contain caffeine, you will appreciate the ones that thin out the mucous and open up the passageways. In addition to ones already mentioned, these are helpful as well:

  • Anise Seed
  • Chamomile
  • Coltsfoot-Soothing and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
  • Echinacea-Infection Fighting Properties
  • Licorice-Expectorant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
  • Marigold
  • Mullein Leaf-Expectorant and Soothing Properties
  • Valerian Root-Pain relieving properties

With most of these teas, you can purchase them as pre-bagged tea at your local health food store. You can also purchase them as supplements. Break apart a capsule and add the contents to a cup of hot water.

Precautions for the Above Herbs

Anise Seed

Anise may counter-react with other herbs and spices if taken together. Some to avoid when you take anise include: Lemon Grass Basil Nutmeg Tarragon Fennel Star Anise Jamaica Pepper


While chamomile is safe for children to take, talk to your pediatrician to see what the correct dosage should be. Children should not take the same amount as adults are recommended.


While you can purchase coltsfoot products from your local healthfood store, you can also collect it from the wild. However, make sure you boil the leaves before using it. The leaves contain a chemical called colhepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can cause liver problems. Avoid coltsfoot if you are pregnant or nursing or if you have heart disease or high blood pressure.


Do not use Echinacea for more than eight weeks. Avoid this herb if you are pregnant or nursing. If you are allergic to daisies or marigold, do not use Echinacea. Stop using if your experience these reactions, hives , rashes, respiratory problems, vomiting


If you are diabetic talk to your doctor before taking licorice. If you have high blood pressure, take to your doctor before taking licorice. The potassium level in your body can be depleted if you use licorice over a long period of time. When this happens, you run the risk of getting high blood pressure. Therefore, it is best to take a potassium supplement if you are going to include licorice in your daily diet.


Pregnant and nursing women should not use marigold. Also anybody who is allergic to ragweed should also avoid marigold. While it is safe to use this plant, it is important to talk to your doctor since this herb can interact with medications and vitamins you are already taking. Marigold can be grown in your garden or found in the wild. However, if you are looking to find wild marigold it is best to seek advice from expert herbalists before doing this, since poisonous plants can be confused for marigold.

Mullein Leaf

While there are no known side effects or interactions with mullein, never swallow the leaves directly. The leaves are hairy and can cause irritation to the throat if swallow. It also can cause skin irritations. The best way to prepare it is to make an infusion and strain it with a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth before using.

Valerian Root

The recommended daily dosage of valerian is 400-900 milligrams. If you take the maximum amount, you may experience some mild side effects such as: Headaches Agitation Strange Dreams Drowsiness Cloudy Thinking While these are mild, stop using if these side effects make you uncomfortable or reduce the amount of this herb. If you operate heavy equipment, start out with a smaller dosage. If you are pregnant or nursing, avoid using valerian.

Essential Oils

Essential oils contain many properties which can fight chest congestion, clear up sinuses and help you relax. They can be used several ways such as in a bath tub, by inhaling or as a chest rub. The best oils to use include:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Lemon Balm
  • Myrrh
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme

Fill a large glass bowl with boiling water and a 3-5 drops of an essential oil. Lean over the bowl with a bath towel draped over your head and inhale the steam.

For a chest rub mix ten drops of an essential oil with cooking oil. Apply this mixture to your chest several times a day as needed.

Just inhaling the scents of essential oils can be effective for chest congestion. Two oils are eucalyptus and tea tree oil.

As a precaution, essential oils are only meant to be used externally. Never consume essential oils because that can be harmful or fatal.

Precautions for the Above Essential Oils

Only use essential oils on external ailments. Consuming them can be harmful or fatal. Talk to a qualified aromatherapist to see which ones are safe to take internally.

Some essential oils, such as bergamot and lemon can cause skin reactions if you are out in the sun. Avoid prolonged sun exposure if you use essential oils on skin conditions.

Before using essential oils, test a small section of your skin. If there is any redness, rash or other irritation, do not use that essential oil.

Before using essential oils dilute them in a carrier oil such as unscented body lotion.

In addition to using the above essential oils in hot water, it is recommended to get as much humidity as you can. Steam and heat both play a role in loosening the phlegm up in your chest. You can do this by taking a hot shower, as hot as you can, and allow the steam to loosen up the mucous in your chest. Even sitting in a hot tub or a Jacuzzi bath can relieve your congestion. However, if you decide to do this, limit your sessions to no more than 15 minutes at a time.

Drinking tea while you are sick has double benefits. Holding the cup under your nose and inhaling the steam helps clear up your airways.

Having a humidifier in your room is an excellent idea. Even if you do not suffer from chest congestion, running this throughout the year gives you a restful sleep and you may not wake up with clogged nasal passages in the morning.


Prevention is always the best home remedy for chest congestion. As already mention, trying one or more of the remedies mentioned above may prevent you from getting sick in the first place. In addition to these, any air filters that you use in the home-such as air purifiers, humidifiers, ones used for heating and so on-make sure that they are clean and replaced as needed. Having clean air is very important for lung health. While your lungs act as filters for what you breathe in, it would be better if your lungs breath in clean air. Even though some irritants, such as smog, smoke and car exhaust fumes, are difficult to avoid, do what you can in your home so you can breathe the cleanest air.

The above remedies are only for treating chest congestion due to a cold or the Flu. For more serious conditions, such as asthma, it is always best to see your doctor. It is actually a good idea to discuss home remedies with your doctor since some herbs may interact with medications and supplements that you are already taking.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Lois Ryan


mactavers on January 13, 2020:

Thank you for a great informative hub.

Lois Ryan (author) from Binghamton NY on December 27, 2019:

Thank you very much. Yes stick with what you know and try some of the others I suggested. I like to use a wide range of what I know since there may be something a person may not like or may be allergic to.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 27, 2019:

This is a wonderful list of remedies and preventative measures. I love fruits and some of the vegetables you listed, plus I like most any tea. I didn't know about many of the things you listed, so I am going to bookmark this article for the future.

Lois Ryan (author) from Binghamton NY on December 26, 2019:

I know there are medical advantages to smoking marijuana, especially helping people with nausea due to chemotherapy and PTSD. Maybe with chest congestion.

Clive Williams from Jamaica on December 26, 2019:

what about marijuana?

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