Beat bronchitis

MEDICINE CABINET

BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH: March's wet, whipping winds are an apt background for bronchitis, an inflammation of the lung's passages caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi (including mold). Breathe easier with these natural remedies recommended by osteopathic doctor Cass Ingram, D.O., author of The Respiratory Solution, and Carol Turkington, author of Natural Cures for the Common Cold. — Rachel Dowd

Oil of wild oregano battles viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Make a tea by adding three to four drops of liquid to hot water and sweeten with honey, or take 450 milligrams in capsule form twice daily between meals. (Make sure to buy the ingestible type made from the wild spice.) Meanwhile, you can help banish mold from damp places like the bathroom with an oregano oil spritz. Add 40 drops of wild oregano oil to 8 ounces of hot water, spray toward the ceiling, and let the mist drift down.

Comfort foods like homemade chicken soup can soothe a raw throat, Turkington says; Ingram suggests spicy foods (think curry and cayenne) to kill germs and loosen mucus. Both experts agree: Eat lots of garlic to fortify your immune system.

One of the most frustrating symptoms of bronchitis is the persistent hacking. Sipping cool water can suppress a cough. But be sure it's not cold water, which can be shocking to your system and cause spasms, says Turkington.
Break up the mucus in your chest and soothe your sore muscles with a mustard poultice. Mix ½ teaspoon of mustard powder and ½ teaspoon of ginger powder with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Rub on your chest before bedtime.
Long hailed as a cold fighter, zinc lozenges may help bring blood flow to the bronchial lining, easing a cough, says Turkington. A powerful antioxidant and anti-bacterial, zinc may also help suppress the inflammatory response, says recent research from Wayne State University in Michigan.

Asthmatics are prone to bronchitis, says Turkington, and bronchitis can trigger a bout of asthma. Inhaling cooled air can help stop an asthma attack. Try breathing in the breeze from your car's air conditioner for a few minutes. But be sure to bundle up!

Enzyme-rich fruits high in bromelain and papain break down solidified mucus, says Ingram. Load up on pineapples, kiwi, and papaya. Try blending papaya seeds with oil, vinegar, and a touch of honey for a tasty, healthy salad dressing.
Luo ban kuo is a centuries-old remedy for respiratory ailments. Grown exclusively in southwest China, this fruit is a natural expectorant and anti-tussive that removes pollutants from the lungs. Try it in Longjiang River's line of respiratory supplements.

The deepest-colored produce contains the most antioxidants, which strengthen lung function. Eat blueberries, red peppers, and spinach. Be sure to cook spinach in olive oil, says Ingram; fat extracts the antioxidant lutein and increases its absorbability. (Read more about healing foods in "Nourish" on page 60.)

Breathe deeply by massaging diluted mint oil over your chest. Or add five to seven drops to 1 tablespoon of almond oil and rub the mixture on the bottoms of your feet. Reflexology theory holds that the balls of the feet connect energetically to the lungs and chest.

Raw honey contains propolis, a phytonutrient that fights bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and increases the water content in the bronchial tubes. Swallow 2 to 3 tablespoons of raw honey and follow with two glasses of water, says Ingram.

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By Rachel Dowd

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