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What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the respiratory tract and can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. It is often a complication of an upper respiratory tract infection such as the common cold or a generalised viral illness such as influenza or measles. Bronchitis can be acute, following a virus or a cold and is usually short lived with the person getting over this with rest and or antibiotics. It can also be chronic, diagnosed after 3 months of on going coughing and excess mucous production. Chronic bronchitis is a type of COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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Symptoms of bronchitis

Symptoms of bronchitis are fever, noisy or wheezy breathing, shortness of breath, cough and phlegm production (often purulent). Acute bronchitis is usually self limiting in otherwise healthy people, with a complete recovery within three weeks. In babies, the elderly and those debilitated by other illness, acute bronchitis needs immediate attention and should be treated by using antibiotics, or a natural alternative, if appropriate. Always seek professional advice, especially when treating sick children.

Chronic bronchitis

In chronic bronchitis there is often irreversible inflammatory damage to the bronchial walls, usually as a result of repeated attacks of acute bronchitis and/or caused by inhaling irritants such as cigarette smoke and other air pollutants. Symptoms are shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and the production of large amounts of purulent sputum. Chronic bronchitis can eventually lead to emphysema.

Some interesting points about bronchitis:

  • Include garlic and onions in diet for anti-bacterial and antioxidant protection.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water) for hydration.
  • Avoid dairy products, sugar and refined foods which are very mucous forming. This can slow oxygen uptake and weaken the immune system.
  • Do not smoke and avoid second hand smoke, smoke is an irritant to the respiratory system.
  • Do not use a cough suppressant if you have bronchitis. Coughing is essential for eliminating mucous secretions.

If bronchitis does not clear up in a reasonable amount of time, a chest x-ray may be recommended to rule out pneumonia, lung cancer, tuberculosis, or other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

It is not unusual for people with chronic respiratory disorders to be taking a variety of medications such as inhalers, anti-anxiety medications, even diuretics to help them breathe better. Exercise is important - it helps one to breathe more efficiently and to tolerate daily activities better. A walk along the beach is perfect, with nothing more relaxing than the sound of the crashing waves on the beach and the fresh sea air.

Natural treatments for bronchitis

Treatment for bronchitis includes rest and an adequate fluid intake. Most people would benefit from drinking more water. All tissues and fluids become thicker and more viscous when you are dehydrated. Mucous becomes harder to shift, in a dehydrated person. You can read more about the benefits of drinking water here.

A well balanced diet high in vitamins A & C is recommended. Vitamin A is essential to the health of the lung tissues. Vitamin A is found naturally in some fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, pumpkin and in spirulina.  Vitamin C, an antioxidant, helps fight infection, enhances immune function, protects the lungs from damage and promotes healing. There is a 70% less chance of developing both asthma and bronchitis if vitamin C is taken. Smokers need 3 times as much vitamin C per day as others, even without this health condition.

ALJ is completely safe and natural, and is very effective in helping to relieve wheezing and difficult breathing. It is a natural herbal expectorant that helps rid the airways of clogged mucous and phlegm.

Buteyko, a self teach option for breathing difficulties

Buteyko is promoted as the answer for drug free Asthma Control. Buteyko tutors will not tell you to throw away your asthma medication.

They will help you with your breathing problems and reduce your use of drugs in three ways:

  1. They teach you to monitor your condition accurately, ie whether to increase your medication, call an ambulance or simply do some breathing exercises
  2. Provide you with a natural and effective method of overcoming attacks
  3. Teach you special exercises which will reduce the frequency of attacks.

The Buteyko course for bronchitis sufferers and others

During a Buteyko course, which usually consists of seven one hour sessions, you will be taught:

  • To develop and practice the Buteyko breathing exercises
  • Sound understanding about the mechanics of asthma
  • How your medication really works
  • To adapt the various techniques in order to enhance daily activities and/or sporting performance
  • How stressors such as environment, allergies and other triggers cause or aggravate asthma and what you can do about them.

To find out more about Buteyko or see a time table with their latest classes, you can go to their web site at or phone them on 09 360 6291 or find them at 20 Arthur Street, Freemans Bay, Auckland 1011, New Zealand

Nutritional support for bronchitis

Some nutrients can help with lung support. They include:

Beta carotene - Needed for the protection and repair of lung tissue. Can also be found in Carotenoid Complex.

CoQ10 - Improves circulation, enhances immunity and increases oxygenation.

L-Glutathione - A powerful self generating antioxidant found in every cell of the body. Glutathione has been used in cases relating to AIDS, alcoholism, arthritis, asthma, cigarette smoke exposure, heart disease, infections and liver damage.

HistaEze - A good natural anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine.

Herbal support for bronchitis

Many herbal combinations can help with respiratory problems. These include:

ALJ - Lung specific formula designed to help clear bronchial passages, expel mucous and phlegm and strengthen and nourish the respiratory system.

HAS - Hayfever, Allergies and Sinus. A non-stimulant synergistic herbal formula that acts as a natural decongestant & antihistamine to dry up the sinuses & expel mucous congestion from the head & lungs. Contains brigham tea, elecampane, marshmallow root, burdock, cleavers, rosemary, goldenseal, parsley and cayenne.

Allergy Check - Allergy Check herbal allergy support, balances immune response to allergens. Soothes & helps to clear eyes & nose. A potent combination of nutrients to support the bodys response to allergens. Allergy check combines key herbs and nutrients selected for their action in supporting clear respiratory passages.

Mullein - Growing all over New Zealand, the leaves of this plant were dried and smoked by Maori for respiratory problems. it is an excellent herb that is used specifically for any problems relating to the lungs, chest and respiratory system. It helps to loosen phlegm and mucous in the chest and assists it to be eliminated from the body. Mullein calms spasms in the chest and is very high in minerals. This is an excellent herb to use for all respiratory problems, such as asthma, bronchitis, smokers cough and pulmonary disease.

Garlic - Garlic is effective against toxic bacteria, viruses and fungus, protects against infections, improves, tones and strengthens the entire physical condition of the body, has a rejuvenating effect on all the cells in the body, builds endurance & energy, strengthens the bodies defenses against allergens.

Olive Leaf - Our own formulation Superior Olive Leaf contains olive leaf, elderberry, zinc and selenium, all beneficial for respiratory and immune system function. 

Cough syrups for respiratory support

A cough syrup can help to sooth irritated mucous membranes, open the airways, thin mucous secretions and make a cough more productive. Some provide a natural anti spasmodic effect, making them invaluable for night time coughing. Some of the natural cough syrups we stock are:

Lung Elixir - Kumarahou, Manuka & Pine. Loosen catarrh, dissolve phlegm, help sooth inflamed & irritated lung tissue. Is good for acute lung disorders, colds & coughs, asthma, bronchitis, fever, colds, pneumonia, sore lungs. Ideal for children & the elderly. Healthy lung support syrup. No sugar, honey, alcohol or preservatives

- Promotes deeper healthy lung processes. Herbal preparation using deep-acting respiratory supportive herbs. A strong, but palatable potent expectorant that opens the airways by soothing inflamed & irritated lung tissues. Especially indicated for emphysema, deep coughs, whooping cough & asthma.

Herbal Chest Ease - A natural formula to relax airways in the chest. Helps clear mucous for ease of breathing. The mixture is aimed at helping keep the bronchial airways clear and free from mucus. Herbal Chest Ease contains soothing herbs high in active constituents. As such, it is gentle and effective. The blend of 7 herbs are specifically designed to relieve symptoms from different forms of chest discomfort - wet & dry coughs and irritating coughs. Also acute, chronic and whooping cough.

Herbal Chest Syrup - Containing traditional certified organic herbs used to help promote and support the healthy function of the chest and respiratory system, especially during winter. For dry, non productive coughs and wet rattly coughs in adults and children. For tight breathlessness, chest tightness and wheezing due to bronchial congestion. Catarrhal conditions, especially in the upper respiratory tract. Coughing due to persistent local irritation. Suitable for the whole family.

Cough syrup for children over 2 years of age

Gaiakids Cough Syrup - For children over 2 years of age. This alcohol free herbal formula promotes a healthy respiratory tract and soothes and supports irritated mucous membranes. Calms the cough and provides rapid.

Organic Cough Elixir - This herbal homeopathic product provides a soothing and expectorant effect for the relief of wet and dry coughs. Helps to relax and soothe the throat and chest, decrease mucous formation and aid expectoration. The key ingredients include althaea, pimpinella, drosera and homeopathic ipecacuanha: which help soothe irritated mucous membranes in the throat and chest by reducing inflammation and relaxing constricted muscles.

Sniffle Juice - Blackberry fruit, Peppermint & Licorice. Adult and children's healthy lung support syrup. Cough 'n' cold syrup. A New Zealand made mentholated formula with children's colds, coughs & flu in mind. Excellent pleasant (but strong) tasting cough elixir. Has a cleansing strengthening effect on the lungs. High in Vitamin C. Soothing for lung complaints. Gentle enough for consumption by children and elderly people. High in organic oxygen rich iron from blackberries. No added sugar, honey, alcohol or preservatives. A great syrup for asthmatics.

- Eucalyptus, pine & peppermint. A favourite for parents, as it has helped with many children's ailments. Immunity support against winter ills and chills. Internal and external antiseptic elixir.  Good for bacterial, germicidal and fungal disorders. A great general preventative for sore throats, colds and flu. Provides respiratory support. Contains carageen to help to dissolve mucus.  Helps open blocked airways. Can be applied topically to skin sores, tinea and ringworm. Can help reduce the length of cold/flu illness.

Respiratory support for children under 2

We are so limited with our children under 2 years of age, in what we can safely give them. These are the main respiratory support product we have for children of this age group.

Kiwiherb specialise in 100% natural, premium quality herbal health products for the whole family.  formulated by their team of experienced medical herbalists and pharmacists, their products are made here in New Zealand under strict quality control so you can trust that every product is of the highest purity, potency and safety. 

These Kiwiherb products are suitable for respiratory problems in the under 2's. They include Childrens Chest Syrup, De Stuff and Childrens Echinacea

Gaiakids also have products for children under 2, for helping with respiratory problems. These include Sniffle Support Herbal drops and Defence herbal drops.

Always seek professional advice before self prescribing.

Essential oils for respiratory support

You can feel the benefits of essential oils from the very first smell. These ones are the most specific for bronchial and respiratory problems:

Olbas Oil - Olbas oil is a blend of pure essential plant oils originated in Switzerland, which gives off a vapour that helps clear congestion. Olbas oil is a  for the relief of bronchial and nasal congestion, hay fever and minor infections of the respiratory tract by inhalation.

Decongestant Blend
- A relieving blend of eucalyptus, tea tree, camphor and peppermint essential oils. Can be used for massage, bathing, vaporisation and inhalation. Help to clear a stuffy nose. For sinus, coughs, colds and congestion. Ideal for inhaling for temporary and instant relief of upper respiratory and nose congestion.

The essential oils Basil, cedarwood, pine, tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus and frankincense have all been used for helping with breathing and respiratory problems.

Immune support for bronchitis

There are a number of products that can help to support a better functioning immune system, to help with respiratory problems such as bronchitis. These include:

Del Immune V - A unique, scientifically validated probiotic formula that has been used for over 40 years in Europe and Russia. Contains lysed bacteria in a lysate powder format (dried cell wall fragments from lactobacillus rhamnosus DV). The lysed bacteria enable the body to rapidly stimulate its own natural immune response. Recommended for respiratory illness, including colds & flu, sinusitis & bronchitis. Can be used prior to & during winter months to protect against colds & flus. Does not require refrigeration.

Kaloba EPs 7630 - Kaloba is the number 1 cold medication in Germany. Kaloba treats the cause of the infection and shortens the duration of the illness. Kaloba shields the linings of the airway with a protective film from viruses and bacterial, hence helping to prevent an infection. Kaloba activates the body's own immune system so that attacking viruses can be fended off. Kaloba helps prevent the growth of bacteria which have penetrated the body, thereby helping to avoid a bacterial infection.

System Well - The most complete and comprehensive herbal and nutritional formula for immune support. The formula is designed to strengthen the seven different mechanisms of immunity. Each herb is well known for its ability to assist the natural healthy function of various body systems. Research has shown that many of these herbs have both direct and indirect benefits to the human immune system.

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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

If you need help or advice, please email our naturopathic team with your health question.  Please allow 48 hours for a response.

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