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  • Zené Jordaan

Support Your Respiratory System Naturally

Respiratory diseases come in many different shapes and sizes and can make you vulnerable to complications from socially spread viruses such as influenza.

Types of Chronic Respiratory Diseases:

Here are some of the most common chronic diseases that can compromise your respiratory system.

  • Asthma

  • Chronic Cough

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • Pulmonary Fibrosis

Should you have a chronic respiratory disease, you can take actions that protect your health and boost your immunity. The key is to get started before you get sick.


How To Build Immunity

Building immunity is not a once off event, it is a continuous effort. All of the below actions performed on a regular basis have a cumulative effect which builds a strong immune system.


Improving your diet.

Bioactive foods like seeds, healthy fats, oils, nuts, cruciferous vegetables & legumes help boost your immune system.


Exercising & Managing Stress

Prolonged stress can have harmful physical and psychological consequences, including heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, and depression. Exercise is one of the many healthy ways in which to help reduce and mange stress.


Sleep

Strategize ways to get at least 7 hours sleep per night. Ensure your bedroom is dark and reduce screen time approximately 1 hour before bedtime.


Detox your home

Look into the cleaning products you use at home. Many commercial cleaning products contain harmful chemicals which can irritate your respiratory system and even compromise your immune system. Swap these products out for more natural cleaning solutions.


Respiratory Support: The Natural Approach

You can provide support to your respiratory system naturally with the use of tea's, essential oil's, massage and reflexology.

Useful Essential Oils For Respiratory Support

There are many essential oils for respiratory support. Below I've listed the top 3 oils I recommend to my patient's.


Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Essential Oil has been the subject of much research focusing on respiratory diseases. According to Respiratory Research, cineole, the main constituent of eucalyptus oil, may be beneficial for COPD patients as those treated with cineole had improved airflow, reduced shortness of breath, and better health. Varieties of eucalyptus oil were found to kill the bacteria that causes tuberculosis 90% of the time, which can often be resistant to treatment. (1) This oil has lots of practical uses around the home as well, from stain removal to using a drop in your home’s air filters! How to Use:

Topically: Dilute 2-4 drops of Eucalyptus oil and apply to the chest, throat and bridge of the nose.

Aromatically: Diffuse several drops in a diffuser


Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil is a great choice for congestion and stuffiness. This potent and invigorating oil opens up the airways and allows for easy breathing. Japanese scientists have tested (2) peppermint extract on mice with inflamed nasal mucous membranes caused by allergies. Peppermint oil reduced sneezing and nasal rubbing in the mice making it a useful tool for people suffering from these issues.


Peppermint oil has also shown (3) to have moderate inhibitory effects on different strains of influenza and staph viruses

How to Use:

Topically: Dilute 2-4 drops of Peppermint oil and apply to the chest and bridge of the nose.

Aromatically: Diffuse several drops in a diffuser


Tea Tree

This oil is renowned for it's antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. Research (4) has shown it to be effective in combating bacteria and fungus. And a study (5) from China showed that inhaling tea tree oil is a better anti-fungal than the medicine fluconazole and similar to penicillin, both on a rat model of pneumonia.


Herbal Tea's

Thyme is great for respiratory health with some clinical studies showing its use in soothing coughs and relieving chest congestion. While fresh thyme is the most helpful for this, the essential thyme oils available in thyme tea may have some of these benefits, too.


Thymus vulgaris,(6) or garden thyme, is the most common culinary species. It's also the type most commonly used in historical recipes and remedies, especially in and around ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt.


Thyme Tea Preparation:

You can choose to make your tea using fresh

leaves or ground thyme powder. You can also

use dried thyme, but remember to strain the leaves from your drink to avoid unpleasant textures.


For fresh leaves, add several sprigs of thyme to a cup of boiling water and let steep for 5 to 8 minutes. If any leaves fall off the sprigs and into your water, you can strain them before drinking.

For powdered thyme, add about 1 teaspoon of the powder to a cup of boiling water and stir to combine. Ground thyme is similar in texture to matcha green tea powder, and you may need to stir several times to ensure thorough mixing. Pro-Tip: Add a teaspoon of non-irradiated honey to improve the taste and sooth the throat.


Reflexology & Chest Percussion Techniques


According to many Reflexology charts the lung reflexes are indicated on the balls of the feet with the eustachian tube at the base of the toes and the sinuses at the tops of the toes.

You can rub and massage one of the above mentioned diluted essential oils into these areas twice daily to assist in opening up your respiratory system. I highly recommend this method of essential oil application for babies, young children and those with sensitive skin as the soles of the feet are thicker and less susceptible to irritation.



Monique De Beer Physiotherapist has created an informative video on how to alleviate chest congestion by making use of a Percussion Technique to loosen Phlegm and Mucus at home. The technique can be used on children, adults and the elderly.



References

  1. Airborne Antituberculosis Activity of Eucalyptus citriodora Essential Oil. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/np400872m

  2. Effects of Peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) Extracts on Experimental Allergic Rhinitis in Rats https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bpb/24/1/24_1_92/_article

  3. Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oils and Their Major Constituents Against Respiratory Tract Pathogens by Gaseous Contact. https://academic.oup.com/jac/article/47/5/565/858508

  4. The Mode of Antimicrobial Action of the Essential Oil of Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree Oil) https://sfamjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1365-2672.2000.00943.x

  5. Tea Tree Oil Nano-emulsions for Inhalation Therapies of Bacterial and Fungal Pneumonia https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0927776516300972

  6. Thyme Tea: Health Benefits, Nutrition Facts, and How to Prepare It https://www.webmd.com/diet/thyme-tea-health-benefits#2-4

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