Bronchitis Acute

Acute inflammation of the tracheobronchial tree, generally self-limiting and with eventual complete healing and return of function.


Bronchitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the mucous lining of the bronchial tubes, the main airways carrying air from the trachea to the lungs. Acute bronchitis is often a feverish condition, usually lasting a few days, with a harsh and painful cough. The development of acute bronchitis is often preceded by symptoms of upper respiratory infections, such as coryza (the common cold), chilliness, slight fever, back and muscle pain, and sore throat. At first the cough is very dry, but as the lungs produce additional mucus in response to the infection, the cough becomes easier and less painful as the mucus lubricates the bronchi. Persistent fever suggests complicating pneumonia. Acute bronchitis usually originates with a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, such as a cold or sore throat, spreading to the lungs. Though usually mild, it may be serious in debilitated people and those with chronic lung or heart disease.



Actions indicated for the processes behind this disease:

Pulmonaries are not crucial if the problem is not recurrent or in at risk people, but it is always a good idea to tone.

Expectorant will, definitely be indicated, but could be either stimulating or relaxing, depending upon the individuals indications.

Demulcent remedies will augment the action of relaxing expectorants if necessary.

Anti-spasmodic herbs may be of help if coughing is proving too troublesome.

Anti-microbial are essential to deal with any infection or to help the body protect against secondary infection developing.

Anti-inflammatories may be indicated if there is extensive inflammation and especially if the larynx or pharynx are involved.

Anti-catarrhals will often help the upper respiratory symptom picture.

Diaphoretics will be indicated if the patient has a fever.

Cardio-Tonic herbs help if there is any history or suspicion of cardiovascular problems.


System Support

The respiratory system will obviously need tonic support, especially if the acute bronchitis is an annual event. This also points towards immune system support (with all that implies). As just pointed out, the heart and blood vessels will benefit from tonics such as Crataegus and Alliumsativum as there may be a deleterious impact on the tissue and henceits functions.



Specific Remedies

There are many possible ones in every herbal tradition of the world. For example Osha, Ligusticum porterii, a plant from the American S.W. is an excellent specific in cases of tracheo-bronchitis. Below is a partial listing of herbs that are considered specific in Europe and parts of North America. They may be appropriate for different individuals at different times, the range covering stimulant and demulcent expectorants, antimicrobials, anti-spasmodics and so on. Thus strictly speaking, none of them are guaranteed to work specifically with all cases. If the various action groupings they would belong to are not immediately apparent, please review these herbs.
Allium sativum

Althaea officinalis

Asclepias tuberosa

Cephaelis ipecacuanha

Cetraria islandica

Chondrus crispus

Drosera rotundifolia

Glycyrrhiza glabra

Hydrastis canadensis

Hyssopus officinalis

Inula helenium

Ligusticum porterii

Lobelia inflata

Marrubium
vulgare

Pilosella officinarum


Pimpinella anisum

Plantago spp.

Polygala senega


Populus candicans

Primula veris

Pulmonaria officinalis

Sanguinaria canadensis

Sticta pulmonaria

Symphytum officinale

Symplocarpus foetidus

Thymus vulgaris

Trigonella foenum-graecum

Tussilago farfara

Verbascum thapsus

Verbena officinalis

Viola odorata


The use of soothing, relaxing expectorants, with their distinctive demulcency, in conjunction with anti-microbials is the often key to successful treatment. The following relaxing expectorants are of especial importance:


Tussilago: Verbascum: Plantago: Cetraria: Trigonella: Sticta: Althaea : Pulmonaria


One possible prescription: Demulcent tea for acute dry cough (acute tracheobronchitis)

Verbascum thapsus

Tussilago
farfara

Althaea officinalis

Pimpinella
anisum — — — equal parts. 2 teaspoonfuls to a cup of boiling water.


Infuse for 20 minutes. Drink hot several times a day.



This first possible combination, given by Dr. Weiss in Herbal Medicine, is in the form of an infusion, partly for the benefits of increasing fluid intake. It supplies the following actions:
Pulmonaries (Verbascum thapsus, Tussilago farfara)

Expectorant-relaxing
(Verbascum thapsus, Tussilago farfara, Althaea officinalis, Pimpinella anisum)

Demulcent (
Verbascum thapsus, Tussilago farfara, Althaea officinalis)

Anti-spasmodic (Pimpinella anisum)

Anti-microbial (Pimpinella anisum)

Anti-inflammatories (Verbascum thapsus, Tussilago farfara, Althaea officinalis, Pimpinella anisum)

Anti-catarrhals
(Verbascum thapsus, Tussilago farfara, Althaea officinalis)


Another approach would increase the stimulating expectorant component, which is more appropriate for stages of this condition that are characterized by excessive sputum production.



One possible prescription: To promote expectoration, in sub-acute &chronic bronchitis:
Primula veris root

Thymus vulgaris

Tussilago
farfara — — — equal parts. 2 teaspoonfuls to a cup of boiling water.


Infuse for 20 minutes. Drink hot 3 times a day.


This combination supplies the following actions:

Pulmonaries (Tussilago farfara)

Expectorant
: relaxant (Tussilago farfara)

: stimulant (
Primula veris)
Demulcent (Tussilago farfara)

Anti-spasmodic
(Primula veris, Thymus vulgaris)

Anti-microbial
(Thymus vulgaris)

Anti-inflammatories (
Tussilago farfara)

Anti-catarrhals
(Tussilago farfara)


An alternative, yet equivalent, mixture is one that replaces the Thymuswith Pimpinella. The way this has been done will increase the stimulating expectoration generated by the saponin rich Primula.



Another prescription: To promote expectoration, in sub-acute & chronic bronchitis:
Primula veris — — — 2 parts

Pimpinella anisum — — — 1 part

Tussilago farfara — — — 1 part — — — 2 teaspoonfuls of combination to a cup of boiling water. Infuse for 20 minutes.




Drink hot 3 times a day.


One possible prescription: To promote combat infection in acute bronchitis

Inula helenium

Marrubium
vulgare

Tussilago
farfara

Hydrastis canadensis

Echinacea spp.
— — — equal parts of tincture to 5ml. taken three times a day.


Allium sativum should be eaten raw in the diet or the oil taken as a supplement.


This combination supplies the following actions:

Pulmonaries (Inula helenium, Tussilago farfara)

Expectorant
: relaxant (Tussilago farfara)

: stimulant (
Inula helenium, Marrubium vulgare)
Demulcent (Tussilago farfara)

Anti-microbial
(Echinacea spp., Inula helenium, Hydrastis canadensis)

Anti-inflammatories (
Hydrastis canadensis, Tussilago farfara)

Anti-catarrhals
(Echinacea spp., Hydrastis canadensis, Tussilagofarfara)

Bitter stimulation (
Marrubium vulgare)


Remedies for external use


Volatile oil rich plants are often used for steam inhalations. It is often possible to abort the development of a cold or even the `flu using volatile oils in this way. When the problem is already established, using inhalations will loosen a cough and clear the sinuses.



Steam Inhalation

A handful of Matricaria flowers placed in a bowl and boiling water poured over them. The vapor is inhaled by the patient who places a towel over the head to create a `tent’, keeping the vapor trapped in. Thymus, Eucalyptus and Origanum and often used as well. For example:
Matricaria flowers

Thymus herb

Origanum herb
equal part to 50.0g

1 tablespoon to 0.5l of boiling water


Pure volatile oils may be used. Traditionally the oil of dwarf pine needles(Pinus pumilio) has been to main oil used, but with growing interest in Aromatherapy many volatile oils are now recognized as valuable remedies for inhalations. Of the many possible oils that could be used here, consider the oils of:

  • Thymus (Thyme)
  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus)
  • Mentha piperita (Peppermint)
  • Pinus pumilio (Dwarf or White Pine)
  • Mentha arvensis var. piperascens (Asian Mint)


Oil of an Asian mint, Mentha arvensis var. piperascens, is a constituent of many Chinese and Japanese oils and is especially rich in menthol. Mentholis anti-inflammatory, especially on the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract. It is also anti-microbial, a stimulant to mucosal secretions and mildly anesthetic. As with many oils, it is best used at the initial onset of symptoms is felt. 3-5 drops of the oil are put in a bowl and boiling water is then added. Inhale for 5-10 minutes. Keep the eyes closed as the vapor might be irritating.



Massaging or apply the oils to chest, neck or back allows absorption through the skin, technically called percutaneous absorption. Oils absorbed this way are often eliminated from the body via the lungs, thus enabling effective treatment of lung infections or inflammations. A good technique is the application of the oil and then placing a dry pack over the oils to ensure they are absorbed and don’t evaporate.



Post Bronchitis recovery:

Commonly following acute bronchitis there may be a period of debility. Appropriate herbs will not only speed recovery but facilitate the body using this time of convalescence to revivify and recuperate. Emphasis should be given to respiratory tonics, bitter tonics and then support for any body system or functions that are indicated in that unique individual.



The toning remedies that should be considered include:


Verbascum thapsus Tussilago farfara Marrubium vulgare


Marrubium is especially useful for not only is an excellent lung remedy, it also has valuable bitter properties. If anti-biotics have been used please follow the guidelines for herbal support of such therapy given in the section on the immune system.



Broader Context of Treatment

Aromatherapy treatment aims at combating the infection, reducing fever, easing the cough and expelling mucus. In the first stages, when the cough is dry and painful, steam inhalation with the following oils may give a great deal of relief. Bergamot and Eucalyptus oils are also effective in lowering fever, and all these oils will help to reinforce the immune response to the infection.


  • Benzoin
  • Citrus bergamia: Bergamot
  • Eucalyptus globulus: Eucalyptus
  • Lavandula officinalis: Lavender
  • Santalum album: Sandalwood


In the latter stages of acute bronchitis, it is important to clear all the mucus from the lungs, to prevent complications, and any of the expectorant essential oils will be indicated:

  • Ocimum basilicum: Basil
  • Benzoin
  • Citrus bergamia: Bergamot
  • Origanum marjorana: Marjoram
  • Commiphora mol-mol: Myrrh
  • Santalum album: Sandalwood
  • Thymus vulgaris: Thyme


The cough may persist for some time after the fever has subsided, but inhalations, baths and local massage to chest and throat with such oils will shorten the time needed for full recovery.



The patient needs to be kept warm and rested, preferably in bed. It is important to avoid anything which can aggravate the cough, such as smoke, and very dry air. Most adults will recover from an attack of bronchitis fairly quickly and without complications, given this care and treatment, but the very elderly and frail, babies and young children, and people with heart conditions or a history of lung infections, are at much greater risk.

David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Get the Healthiest Newsletter!

Get a dose of Healthy delivered straight to your inbox. Each FREE issue features amazing content that will elevate your Body, Mind, and Spirit.

Your data is never shared with 3rd parties

Body+Mind+Spirit

TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE?

Try the Internet's Longest-Running Wellness Program.