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What are the Most Common Natural Expectorants?

By Patti Kate
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Some of the most common natural expectorants are water and other fluids, as well as the use of steam. Eucalyptus oil is another natural expectorant, when inhaled. Honey is an all-natural expectorant. Gargling with a mixture of cayenne pepper and water is a natural expectorant that can clear chest congestion.

Expectorants are any substances, either chemical or natural, that help to loosen phlegm or mucus from the chest and lungs. Natural expectorants can help to rid the lungs of congestion by thinning out secretions. One of the most effective all natural expectorants is steam. Inhaling steam can help thin and loosen mucus.

The best way to inhale steam is either with a personal steam inhaler or a vaporizer. Alternately, the patient may lean over a bowl of steaming water, with a towel draped over the head. Inhaling the steam vapors will act as a natural expectorant without any of the side effects medications and drugs may cause.

Ginger and chamomile tea both act as natural expectorants. For stubborn nasal and chest congestion along with a nagging cough, mixing a tablespoon of honey into a cup of warm tea can loosen chest congestion. Another liquid with natural expectorant abilities is chicken broth. Vinegar or apple cider vinegar can help top loosen phlegm and thin bronchial secretions.

Natural expectorants do not have to be in liquid form. Onions, for example, have natural expectorant attributes. Eating them raw, such as in salads, may provide relief from congestion. Powdered licorice root may be a natural remedy as well. Peppermint candies or drops can also provide relief from congestion and help to thin secretions.

Garlic also can be used as a natural expectorant, either by inhaling or eating it cooked or raw. Any type of spicy food, such as hot peppers or salsa, tend to act as natural expectorants. Some of the best choices are spicy Mexican food or Indian curry.

While not considered to be all-natural, guaifenesin is a most common way to relieve coughs. Guaifenesin is a drug used either in cough syrups or in tablet form. This type of drug is commonly used as an expectorant to bring up congestion from the lungs due to upper respiratory infections. Guaifenesin is used to make dry coughs more productive, thus helping to rid the airways of mucus.

Water is one of the most beneficial and natural expectorants available. When one consumes plenty of water, the lungs are able to flush out pathogens while thinning phlegm from the airways. Staying hydrated will allow mucus membranes to remain moist and keep mucus from collecting in the respiratory tract.

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Discussion Comments

By anon992632 — On Sep 21, 2015

@kylee07drg: Honey dissolved in hot tea that has been allowed to cool a bit so it is not scalding hot will ease the pain of swallowing after just a few sips.

By anon947556 — On Apr 26, 2014

Aloe Vera with honey is the best natural remedy for releasing congestion. Drinking this mixture every four hours will loosen phlegm in 24 hours.

By anon931824 — On Feb 10, 2014

Gargle with warm salt water for the sore throat. It kills the pain rapidly.

By anon319022 — On Feb 10, 2013

If you have a sore throat, you surely have something living in there. the only way to devastate the organism is by putting 1-3 droplets of h2o2 in water or juice and drink this two times in 24 hours. It will eliminate the cause of the sore throat.

Right now, I have a hell of a upper respiratory infection and I'm stopping cigarettes for good. This I felt like I was going to die and I'm only 25. Anyway, h2o2 has been working wonders on my body and the increased consumption of distilled water is helping so much!

You want to sweat and urinate a lot when sick because your adrenal system releases toxins and waste from the kidney's and sweat glands. I'm learning a lot, but the kidneys are so important. You need to be urinating equal to your consumption.

If your kidneys aren't functioning, weight gain happens and sickness doesn't leave the body. Now I'm starting to really notice fat loss from drinking a gallon of distilled water a day and sweating my butt off under my covers with my space heater on full blast which helps lower my 102F temperature.

By anon313418 — On Jan 11, 2013

For a sore throat, there's nothing better than slippery elm. Try Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat.

By OeKc05 — On May 02, 2012

I didn’t have a vaporizer last time I got sick, so I boiled a pot of water instead. I draped a towel over my head and the pot, and I slowly breathed it in for a long time.

I was amazed at how well it worked. I had a jar beside me that I used to spit all the phlegm in, and I could tell I got rid of a lot of it.

Since then, I have purchased a vaporizer. So, instead of having to stand over the stove, I shut myself in a small room and sit near the vaporizer. I put a dollop of eucalyptus salve in the vaporizer to intensify its effect, and it felt like it actually entered my bronchial tubes.

By Perdido — On May 01, 2012

I often lose my appetite and feel sick at my stomach when I have congestion. I think this is because when I cough up the phlegm, I often swallow it instead of spitting it out.

So, my favorite natural expectorant for chest congestion is peppermint candy. Any time that I have an upset stomach, peppermint soothes it, so this takes care of both problems at once.

I also keep peppermint tea on hand for the same reasons. As the hot liquid goes down, I can feel it opening up my chest with the strong, minty aroma. It opens up my nasal passages, as well.

By lighth0se33 — On May 01, 2012

@kylee07drg - You could still use water, just in a different form. I like to use lemon echinacea tea with honey, which is made with 8 ounces of boiling water and a teabag.

The lemon and honey are soothing to my throat, so when I drink this hot tea, I get instant relief for the soreness. The liquid also helps loosen up the mucus in my chest, so I can cough it up.

Now, the coughing does irritate my throat a bit. When this happens, I just drink more tea, and the cycle continues until I have coughed most of it up and am feeling better.

By kylee07drg — On Apr 30, 2012

I had no idea that drinking water could help relieve congestion! Usually, when I’m really sick, I don’t want to drink much, because I either feel nauseated or I have a sore throat.

I would love to use a natural remedy next time I have chest congestion, and water would be the ideal thing, but I just don’t know if I can drink enough of it to do much good if I happen to have a sore throat along with the congestion. If it is hard and painful to swallow, I won’t be able to do it. Does anyone have any suggestions for what to use as a natural expectorant if you also have a sore throat?

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