Lung supporting Herbs

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Do you worry about winter health? Does it concern you that the FLU vaccine is pushed every day at this time of year? Do you wonder what best practices need to be added to your life to optimize your chances (and your beloveds) of enjoying a healthy winter? 

Lung supporting herbs can help!



I like to offer support to different body systems throughout the year. Just as we would pop over to visit our mechanic, to help our vehicles to perform optimally with periodic check ups, our body systems can benefit from ongoing ‘rotating’ support.

In the fall, thoughts turn to respiratory system support. Why not offer our lungs some extra herbal nourishment  before cold and flu ‘season’ arrives? Lung supporting herbs can help!

There have been a lot of horrific fires raging about North America this year. Smoke inhalation has been a huge problem for many folks. I recently wrote about Respiratory health here.

There are a number of activities and practices which support our respiratory system. Explore these ideas here.  It won’t matter what herbs we take, if we don’t support ourselves with lifestyle choices. Small choices every day DO add up to help us to achieve the results we want. 

Lung supporting herbs usually do so by offering one or more of the following benefits:

Acting an expectorant — which helps break up and expel chest congestion.
Antioxidants which can reduce redness and oxidative damage.
Calming the release of histamines.
Fighting the harmful organisms that can produce upper respiratory problems.
Soothing irritated nasal passages and airways.
Relaxing the muscles near the upper respiratory system to quell a cough.



Plantain herb

I’m including lots of ideas to help you a. either create your own helpful medicines based on what symptoms are present or b. helping you to identify which lung supporting herbs are possibly the ones to look for in a formula to buy at your local health food store or online. 

Here’s a sample formula to support lung health:
Elecampane 20%
Plantain 30%
Thyme 20 %
Horehound 15 %
Hyssop 10%
Cinnamon 5%

Every herb offers primary  attributes and also ‘supporting roles’ too.
All are considered when herbalists choose the best candidate for the ‘job’!

For any one herb, there can be pages of healing constituents. Every herb offers a lifetime of study! The taste of each herb also offers clues to how it can help us.

Here are some specific categories used to support lung health:

Respiratory Anti-Spasmodics
Reduce muscle spasms may relaxing smooth muscle tissues. They can help to alleviate spasmodic conditions of the lower respiratory tract. e.g. asthma, spasmodic coughs

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis)
Lobelia (aka Indian Tobacco)
(Lobelia inflata)
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
White Pine (Pinus strobus)


Help to reduce mucus secretions. We use them to treat conditions with profuse watery mucus.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Hyssop ( Hyssopus officinalis)
Chamomile ~ Roman + German (Chamaemelum nobile + Matricaria recutita)
Catnip (Nepeta spp)
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis)

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Plantain Leaf (Plantago Major)

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
White Pine (Pinus strobus)


Help to thin and liquefy the mucus secretions of the upper respiratory tract, which reduces congestion and opens up the nasal passages. Use when thick mucus congestion present.
Cayenne (Capsicum spp)
Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis)
Lobelia (aka Indian Tobacco(Lobelia inflata)
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
White Pine (Pinus strobus)


Wild Ginger in my shade garden

Relaxing Expectorants
Relax the mucus membranes and/or smooth muscles of the lungs. Helps to open up the air passages and reduce spasms.
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Lobelia (aka Indian Tobacco) (Lobelia inflata)
Mallow (Malva neglecta/sylvestris)
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
Mullein leaves/flowers (Verbascum thapsus)


Coltsfoot flowers are the first up every spring!

Secretolytic Expectorants
Help to loosen up and liquefy the mucus in the lungs, which make it easier to cough up and remove mucus from the lungs.
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Elderflower (Sambucus nigra)
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Horehound (Marrubiam vulgare)
Goldenrod (Solidago canadense)
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Lobelia (aka Indian Tobacco) (Lobelia inflata)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
White Pine (Pinus strobus)

Mildly Stimulating Expectorants
Stimulate and strengthen the cough reflex which improves its overall efficiency. They improve local circulation and tend to be warming to the lungs.
Anise seeds (Pimpenella anisum)
Elecampane (Inula helenium)
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
White Pine (Pinus strobes)


You may notice that there are some herbs that appear several times in these constituent lists. When creating a formula, these lung supporting herbs, with multiple functions,  can be powerful herbal allies.
These herbs need to be used with extra caution. I have included these herbs to create a full picture of my herbal apothecary of lung supporting herbs! (for clarity: Lobelia and Butterfly weed above)

Stay tuned for some specific lung supporting formulas.  Keep well!
I’d love to hear about your remedies for respiratory support.  
We learn from each other.



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    • Indeed!!! Thanks Anna! WHen I was compiling this list of lung supporting herbs, I knew I would forget at least one (if not more!)
      Wild Bergamot ~ Monarda fistulosa ~ is highly anti-catarrhal, anti-spasmodic and strong-acting expectorant.
      I tend to use Monarda Didyma too and grow both. Thanks again. Good reminder that we have such an abundance of herbal helpers!!!

    • Thanks Renee. As well, with your daughter.. When we have a “habit” of getting a deeper cold than others, it can be indicative of a need for lung support.
      This lung supporting formula in the post – is an overall support formula.. .ie so she may not get the deeper symptom to start with. Just a thought.

    • Thanks for writing Megan. I would suggest the occasional lung support in any case.. This is possibly a ‘weak area’ and will benefit from
      lung supporting herbs along the way.

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