Herbs That Improve Your Respiratory Health

par Kobie Babb

Respiration is the process of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. The process involves chemical reactions that break down glucose to release energy and other substances. Our body constantly needs energy to execute basic daily activities such as movement, thinking, growth and reading.

The part of the body responsible for respiration is the lungs. Our lungs take more than 6 million breaths per year and keep other organs in the body working optimally.

Often, we do not pay proper attention to the health of our lungs. This is because breathing is one of those actions that we execute without actively thinking about it.

Maintaining a properly functioning respiratory system is essential for healthy overall well-being. Although the air we breathe contains a considerable percentage of oxygen, it also contains a host of other substances.

These substances, such as viruses, bacteria, and even smoke, can pose a great risk to our lungs and impact our respiratory system's operation. Thus, breathing deeply and steadily may become daunting.

Luckily, there are herbs and natural remedies that can help us recover from respiratory complications. These herbs play a unique role in respiratory health and equally boost our resistance to future respiratory complications. Below are some of them.


1. Mullein Leaf (Verbascum thapsus)

Mullein leaf does wonders in the lungs. For over 2000 years, the ancient Greeks have used this invaluable leaf to treat a series of respiratory health issues.

Mullein leaf contains many active compounds that help it serve as a remedy for cough, congestion, bronchitis, asthma, constipation, pain, inflammation, and other ailments. It's a safe respiratory tonic that thrives in areas with sunny, open, and disturbed soil.

The saponins in Mullein leaf have anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and pain-relieving properties. Flavonoids serve as antioxidants and equally offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Phenylethanoid glycosides and iridoids are as well popularly known for their anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.


2. Elderberry (Sambucus)

Elderberry doesn't just offer respiratory health benefits; it equally helps to protect your heart, boost your immune system, and significantly reduce your stress levels. Elderberry is one of the most versatile healing plants that can solve a wide range of health problems.

The plant is richly packed with antioxidants and vitamins and as well includes dietary fiber.  Elderberry can be used in food coloring, body lotions, jams, and even in wine.

When using elderberry, several things are essential to note. Firstly, not all parts of the elder tree are edible. The branches, twigs, roots, leaves and seeds, are toxic because they contain glucoside– a type of cyanide. Secondly, pregnant and breastfeeding women shouldn't use elderberry.

Although there hasn't been enough research to prove that it is harmful to pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, there are equally not enough data to show that it is harmless. Thus, you want to leave elderberry for other proven alternatives if you are pregnant.

Thirdly, individuals with immune challenges tend to have reactions to elderberry. If elderberry causes you to have a rash or any other health complication, you might want to avoid using it.

All in all, elderberries are great respiratory herbs if you have a strong immune system and your body wouldn't react to it. They can help you treat the common cold or flu very effectively.


3. Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)

Aromatic leaves and flowers characterize hyssop plants. The plant is popularly known for its sweet scent and warm, bitter taste. For a very long time, hyssop has been used as a flavoring for foods and beverages. Another everyday use of this evergreen herb is as a medicine.

Hyssop is effective as a remedy for respiratory issues and can also solve many other health challenges such as liver problems, gallbladder disease, gas, intestinal pain, colic, urinary tract infections, poor circulation, etc.  Recent research into the plant reveals that it has effective anti-ageing properties.

Little wonder why so many beauty enthusiasts use it as a natural cleanser for the skin.


4. Cordoncillo negro (Piper aduncum)

If you want herbs with a pleasant taste for your respiratory health, Cordoncillo Negro should be somewhere on the top of your list. The plant is very aromatic and has gained much fame for relieving stomach and upper respiratory ailments.

Specifically, Cordoncillo Negro helps to:

  • Relieve cough
  • Sooth throat when battling dry cough
  • Expel mucus from the respiratory tract
  • Relieve congestion
  • Relieve pain (including menstrual cramps)
  • Speed up wound healing
  • Address inflammation.


Cordoncillo Negro is usually found in Europe, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. They typically thrive in tropical rainforests as well as semi-evergreen forests. In countries like Jamaica, Peru, and Mexico, the herb is grown for medicinal purposes.

The shrub contains many active compounds, including flavonoids, monoterpenes, phenylpropanoids, alkaloids, heterocyclesbenzenoids, and chromenes.


How to Use Herbs

You can use each of the herbs mentioned above in many different ways to solve respiratory health issues. Although how you choose to use the herb depends on the kind of treatment you're looking to get.

Nonetheless, consuming the entire herb proves to be the most effective usage method. You could boost your respiratory health by using herbs in any of the following ways.

1. Making a tea

This involves drying the plant and steeping the dried leaf in a cup of water. Practicing this method will help you increase your fluid intake alongside serving as great herbal medicine for your lungs.

2. Culinary

You can simply add the herb to your food and consume the whole piece. This is one of the most common and effective ways of taking herbs.

3. Making extracts

Soak your herb in a solvent for an extended period to make extracts. Although similar to tea in its aesthetics, extracts tend to be more concentrated.

Herbal extracts can also be used as a flavoring in baking, giving you more opportunities to derive from its health benefits.

4. Making essential oils

You can obtain essential oils from herbs through distillation or cold pressing. Essential oils offer great respiratory benefits and are highly concentrated in nature.