Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Chest Infections

  This time of year brings along with it colds and ‘flus which sometimes develops into a chest infection. Most are viral and later may develop into bacterial infections. Antibiotics are useful only in bacterial infections, but today many of the commonly used antibiotics are of little or no use due to resistance of the bacterial involved in respiratory infections to antibiotics. Often it is necessary to take two or three courses of antibiotics to clear mild respiratory infections to antibiotics that in the past were easily taken care of by one course of antibiotics. Also the use of a number of courses of antibiotics. Also the use of a course of a number of antibiotics in treating an infection will lead to an imbalance in the area of our digestive system, causing the individual to become weakened and even more likely to suffer another infection.
   Today we will look at natural methods of treating chest infections using diet, supplements and herbal remedies, thus hopefully avoiding the necessity of using antibiotics at all. (Some also limit the side effects of antibiotics.)
   First, let’s look some causes of lung infections. Susceptibility to a chest infection is more likely after becoming chilled or fatigued. Irritating chemicals such as tobacco, ammonia (found in harsh cleaning substances) and environmental pollution also predispose the chest to infection. Repeated spells of chest infection are usually linked to a weakness in the respiratory tract, due to allergies, asthma and sinusitis.
   A diet with too much meat and processed foods and too little fibre has been linked to lung weakness.
   Onions, garlic and leeks are all good to eliminate mucus from the lungs. To boost immunity, eliminate the consumption of refined sugar. Avoid mucus-forming dairy foods, heavy starches and saturated fats from animal meats to reduce congestion. The Vitamin A that fruits and vegetables provide strengthens lung tissue; and the Vitamin C they contain promote healing and improves resistance to infections.
   Vitamin C, with bioflavonids up to 3 grams per day, is very helpful to speed the recovery from a lung infection. If stools become loose, reduce the dose; Zinc up to 60mg per day works along with Vitamin C in aiding the immune system.
   Herbs to help ease a chest infection: Plantain juice works like a herbal antibiotic in killing off the infection the infection and there is no build-up of resistance to it by bacteria. It also acts as an expectorant on the lungs, thus aiding the removal of mucus from the lungs and in the process easing a cough.
   Garlic, of course, is a wonderful remedy to prevent lung infections, as are onions. A useful cough syrup is made by putting 6 chopped white onions in a double boiler and add half a cup of honey and strain. Take at regular intervals, preferably warm. Another syrup can be made by adding cloves of crushed garlic to honey and leaving overnight. All the goodness of the garlic is extracted by the honey, which in itself is good at easing a cough or sore throat.
   Echinacea root tinctures are also useful in treating chest infections, especially if combined with plantain juice or elderberry juice or both.
   A very old and effective way of stimulating the heating of an ongoing chest infection is to use a mustard poultice. A mustard poultice is made by mixing one part dry mustard (e.g. Colman’s) with three parts’ flour and adding enough water to make a paste. The paste is then spread on the cotton (old pillowcases work well), folded and then placed on the chest. Leave on top for 20 minutes. Be sure to check regularly, as it will cause blisters if left on too long.      

David Foley
Medical Herbalist

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