15 Ways to Get Rid of Phlegm and Chest Congestion Naturally

What is Phlegm?

Phlegm is a “liquid secreted by the mucous membranes of mammals” that contains lipids, glycoproteins, and immunoglobulins, among others [1].

It serves several purposes for the body including keeping tissue surfaces moist to prevent them from drying and cracking [2].

It also traps bacteria and other harmful invaders before they enter the body and cause infection [2].

The color of phlegm may also hint about different conditions. For example, if your phlegm is white or grayish, it may signal a sinus or upper respiratory tract infection. Green or dark yellow may reveal bacterial or viral disease.

But, if you have bloody phlegm, it could be a sign of something more serious such as pneumonia, pulmonary embolism or cancer [3].

You need to consult your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis of your condition and treatment.

Besides the prescribed medications, you can rely on some home remedies to get rid of phlegm without any risk of side-effects.

Home Remedies to Get Rid of Phlegm and Chest Congestion

1. Steam

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One of the easiest and simplest ways to expel phlegm is to inhale the steam. It helps to dissolve the sticky substance to make it easier for you to get rid of it.

When it’s no longer sticky, it is much easier to expel it through the mouth or nose.

That’s not all that it could do. Steam can also keep the respiratory tract moisturized, which is useful as a dry environment is a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.

Various studies have shown the efficacy of steam in expelling phlegm. And at the same time, it shows how steam relieve conditions associated with mucus such as a cough [4, 5].

You can add some volatile oils such as eucalyptus oil or cedar leaf oil to water to improve the efficacy of steam [5].

But, it’s important to know that it’s dangerous to use these oils excessively, as they had adverse effects on animal subjects involved in one clinical trial [5].

If you like, you can use plain water to be safe.

How to take steam to expel phlegm in throat and chest:

Method 1:

Pour hot boiling water in a basin. Wrap your head with a towel. Move your face close to the basin and inhale the steam. Do this for 10 minutes three times a day.

Method 2:

Another way to loosen phlegm is to take the steam shower twice a day. Turn the shower to full heat. Close the bathroom and stay inside for 10 minutes. Apply lotion on your skin to prevent it from drying out.

2. Water

If you think steam is the simplest remedy for phlegm, wait until you hear about this one.

Water is even simpler, as you don’t have to boil it or turn it into steam to inhale it, you have to drink plenty of water during the day.

Water helps keep the phlegm diluted so that it’s much easier to expel.

Frequent intake of water thins the mucus, so it doesn’t stick to the respiratory tract.

Researchers state the water is the “most effective means of liquifying the bronchial secretions in asthmatic children.” [6]

Even those who don’t have asthma, but are suffering from other respiratory ailments like allergies, cough or cold, can also take advantage of this home remedy that’s a cinch to put together.

If you don’t like the bland taste of water, try adding slices of fruits. These fruits won’t only improve the flavor but also boost the nutritional content of your beverage.

Simplest remedy for phlegm using water:

Drink eight to 10 glasses of water. To make it more palatable, infuse it with flavor by adding slices of cucumber, lemon or watermelon into a pitcher of water. Let it cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before drinking. Fluids help soothe an irritated throat and loosen secretions.
Read More: 7 Oxygenated Water Benefits That’ll Surprise You!

3. Honey

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A cough, whether caused by viruses or bacteria, can cause increased production of phlegm in the respiratory tract.

An efficient way to relieve this is with honey. Many studies confirm the efficacy of honey for cough relief, particularly for children. [7, 8, 9]

Clinical investigations reveal that parents prefer honey for relieving cough in children. Because it effectively reduced symptoms and helped children sleep better at night. [7, 8, 9]

Honey can work even better than commonly prescribed cough medications such as dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine. [7]

Moreover, honey also works in soothing symptoms of another common respiratory ailment called allergic rhinosinusitis which also cause overproduction of phlegm [10].

How to use honey for clearing phlegm from chest and throat:

Method 1:

Combine ¼ tsp of black pepper and one tablespoon of honey. If the black pepper is not available, you may use white pepper. Take this mixture twice a day for one to two weeks.

Method 2:

In a glass of warm water, stir in one tsp of honey and lemon juice. Drink solution three times a day for one week.

Read More: 10 Health Benefits of Honey (Backed by Science)

4. Eucalyptus Oil

The source of this essential oil is the leaves of an evergreen tree from Tasmania and Australia [11].

The plant originated in these countries. But, it wasn’t long before news of its therapeutic purposes spread to other countries such as Spain, China, India, and Portugal, among many others [11].

Over the years, more and more people have relied on eucalyptus oil as a home remedy for various respiratory ailments including a cough and common cold.

People in the United States and Germany admire this oil for its expectorant actions, meaning, it can help expel phlegm due to viral or bacterial respiratory infection [11].

It is typically added to tablets and syrups, as well as used in vapor baths and inhalation [11].

Learn how to use eucalyptus essential oil for phlegm:

Pour 3 drops of eucalyptus oil in hot water. Cover your head with a towel. Move closer to the basin of hot water to inhale the aroma. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes three times a day. You can also use a diffuser if you have one.

Read More: 7 Essential Oils for Chiggers Bites & Relief from the Itch

5. Lemon Oil

In Ontario, Canada, researchers looked at lemon oil’s role as an expectorant inhalant [12].

What they did was administer lemon essential oil in the form of steam to urethanized rabbits.

The rabbits had to inhale to assist in the expelling of phlegm that’s stuck in their respiratory tract [12].

The experiment increased phlegm output and at the same time, reduced the amount of the respiratory tract fluid [12].

Researchers explain that lemon oil’s expectorant properties focused on stimulating the secretory cells in the respiratory airway. It led to a boost in the volume and concentration of mucus [12].

They believe that these effects are due to the presence of active compounds such as pinene and limonene [12].

An easy way to use lemon oil for phlegm:

Add 2 tsp of lemon juice to a glass of warm water and mix. Pour a drop of lemon oil and 1 tablespoon of honey. Stir well to blend the solution. Drink the solution three times a day for up to one week. It’s better to use warm water instead of cold.

Read More: 10 Ways Lemon Oil Can Benefit your Health

6. Nutmeg Oil

Nutmeg oil is another practical remedy for excessive phlegm.

It’s not as a popular as eucalyptus or steam inhalation. But some people rely on this oil to get rid of that sticky substance in the respiratory tract.

A study conducted in 1970 shows that animal subjects that had to inhale nutmeg oil had an increased output of respiratory tract fluid. [13]

The reason behind this action may be due to the active compound in nutmeg, which is camphene. [13]

Of course, as with other essential oils, you cannot use nutmeg oil undiluted, as doing so can cause irritation and other adverse effects.

How to consume nutmeg oil to treat phlegm:

In a glass of warm water, add 2 drops of nutmeg oil and 1 tsp of honey. Stir well. Drink the solution. Sip it slowly to make sure your body can absorb the antibacterial agents sufficiently. Do this two to three times a day.

Read More: 19 Essential Oils for Cold Sores Remedy with Directions

7. Clove Oil

The dried flower buds of clove have been popular as a folk remedy for various ailments for many centuries. [14]

Among the many diseases that it can treat are a headache, gum problems, scabies, wounds, and tooth infections. It is also known for its expectorant actions. [14]

Expectorants such as clove oil make it easier to “cough up phlegm.” [15]

It helps clear the respiratory passages and treat various respiratory infections including colds, cough, and asthma, bronchitis, and sinus conditions. [15]

Try this clove oil recipe for phlegm:

Add 1 drop of clove oil to a glass of warm water. Stir well. If you’d like to improve the taste, you may add honey. Drink the mixture slowly. Follow this procedure twice a day for up to one week.

Read More: 9 Best Essential Oils for Asthma Attacks + (How to Use Them)

8. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint is a popular remedy for bad breath. It’s not only useful, but it’s also widely available in the form of breath fresh mints and candies.

Did you know that it can also work wonders in getting rid of phlegm in people suffering from respiratory ailments?

In Brazilian traditional medicine, people used it as an antispasmodic and expectorant. Besides, it reduces chest congestion. [16]

Scientists from Brazil confirm its relaxation effects on the respiratory tract. [16]

Just make sure that when you use peppermint oil, you dilute it first in water or carrier oil, as it is too strong when used in its pure form.

Soothe your phlegm symptoms with this peppermint oil bath:

Turn shower to full heat and let steam fill the bathroom. Add 10 drops of peppermint oil to warm bath water. Soak in the tub for half an hour. Inhale deeply to take in the steam and peppermint aroma. Do this once or twice a day.

Read More: 8 Reasons to Use Peppermint Oil for Hair

9. Garlic

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Historical records document the use of garlic since the ancient times.

Some reports show that people used garlic when Greek temples and Egyptian pyramids were under construction. [17]

It was even prescribed by Hippocrates to relieve a wide variety of conditions. [17]

Today, garlic remains as a potent solution for many ailments. Those include intestinal problems, tuberculosis, parasitic infections, and diarrhea, among others. [18, 19]

If you’re having a hard time getting rid of phlegm in your throat, garlic can also help.

African herbalists have long used this plant to treat respiratory infections including asthma. [19]

As a proven antimicrobial agent, garlic can put an end to viral and bacterial infections, which are the common causes of excess phlegm. [20, 21]

How you may eat garlic to soothe infections:

Peel 3 cloves of garlic and crush. Chop into fine pieces. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the chopped garlic. Blend if you’d like the consistency to be like paste. Otherwise, consume it after setting aside from 30 minutes. Take this twice a day.

Read More: 19 Essential Oils for Cold Sores Relief: Benefits and User Guides

10. Thorny Olive

Thorny olive belongs to the Elaeagnaceae plant family. Traditional Chinese healers have used its leaves to treat bronchitis and asthma. [22]

In this study performed by Chinese researchers, they evaluated thorny-olive for its anti-asthma and expectorant actions. [22]

According to the findings, this herb reduced the severity and frequency of your cough, as well as helped expelled phlegm. [22]

Used the right way, this plant can help reduce the problem of mucus triggered by respiratory infections.

A simple thorny olive remedy for phlegm:

Boil a glass of water in a pot. Add the leaves. Simmer for 30 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat. Strain the leaves. Drink one glass of the concoction. Repeat remedy three times a week.

Read More: Olive Oil on Face: 6 Benefits + How to Use It

11. Ginger

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Ginger is highly popular for its pharmacological properties. The spice is the choice remedy for nausea, vomiting, arthritis, and many other health issues. [23]

Various studies mention ginger as a potent expectorant, which is why it can relieve many respiratory ailments. [24, 25, 26]

Apart from clearing the respiratory tract, it also kills the source of infection.

After all, it is a proven antibacterial and antiviral, as reported in a study conducted in Germany and Switzerland. [27]

Moreover, it also works as an anti-inflammatory, reducing swelling in the respiratory tract. [28]

Treat your annoying phlegm with this warm ginger tea:

Boil a cup of water. Remove from the stove. Add 1 tsp of grated ginger. Stir in honey. Mix well. Drink the ginger solution while still hot. Drink this tea three times a day for up to two weeks.

Read More: 20 Great Ways Of Using Ginger To Fight Your Acne

12. Chicken Soup

As it turns out, the age-old remedy of feeding chicken soup to someone with a cold isn’t unfounded.

An article in Live Strong reports of a study featured in the Chest Medical Journal. It states that chicken soup’s chemical properties do have the ability to relieve cold symptoms.

Researchers explain that chicken soup works by keeping the mucus secretions thin.

At the same time, it slows down the activities of the white blood cells that trigger the body’s inflammatory response.

Try chicken soup if you have phlegm:

Heat chicken soup in a pot. Eat the soup throughout the day based on your condition.

Read More: 7 Surprising Health Benefits of Split Pea Soup

13. Gargle

Gargling is quite an old traditional remedy for cold suggested by our grandparents. [29]

Gargling is an excellent remedy for a cough and phlegm. If the mucus gets stuck on the back of your throat, it can cause discomfort and irritation. [30]

The water needs to be warm, and it’s better to add some salt to make it more effective.

This remedy will clear the phlegm, diminish the germs and even ease your sore throat.

Simple gargle method to get rid of phlegm:

Add ½ tsp of salt to a glass of warm water. Wait for the salt to dissolve. Take a mouthful of water and rinse for thirty seconds to a minute. Spit out and repeat the same with the whole glass of water.

Read More: 18 Essential Oils for Sore Throat and How to Use Them

14. Licorice Root

A favorite herb of the herbalists to get rid of mucus. Licorice root tea helps loosen the mucus, making it easy to expel the mucus from the body, so that oxygen can flow smoothly. [31]

Its anti-inflammatory properties and soothing effect can calm your lungs. Drinking licorice root tea can help cure asthma, cough, congestion, as well as phlegm.

Licorice root is an excellent expectorant, meaning that it can prompt the exile of phlegm from the lungs.

The herb is quite sweeter than the regular sugar, so you don’t need to add extra sugar to make the tea.

Learn how you can take licorice root tea for phlegm:

Add 1 tsp of dried licorice root into two cups of water and boil it for five minutes. Let the herb steep for another 5-10 minutes based on how strong you want the tea to be. Strain the tea and drink it. You can drink this tasty and beneficial tea two times a day until you get well.

Read More: 11 Moringa Tea Benefits You Should Know About

15. Apple Cider Vinegar

You will hardly get a home remedy that doesn’t include apple cider vinegar, no matter what the disease is.

And why not? Whether you have a skin problem, overweight issue, upset stomach, sore throat, leg cramps, infections, cough, or phlegm, you can heal with it. [32]

Apple cider vinegar or ACV contains vitamin B1, B2, and B6, some pectin, biotin, niacin, folic acid, and vitamin C. It also comes with a small number of minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium. [33]

It’s one of the most effective remedies for phlegm as it can break up the mucus in your body and soothes chronic allergy and sinusitis symptoms.

ACV is a good source of potassium, meaning that it can help you get rid of a runny nose.

How to use ACV when you have phlegm:

Mix one tablespoon of ACV in a glass of water. You should drink the water three times a day. Continue the process until you heal. You can also add raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a bowl of boiling water and inhale the steam.

Read More: How Effective is Apple Cider Vinegar for Ringworm Treatment?

When to See a Doctor

Phlegm is a common thing and not a reason for worry. But if it becomes a regular occurrence, you might feel uncomfortable. You should consult a doctor if your phlegm doesn’t go within one months or more.

You may develop phlegm due to some other issues such as allergies, acid reflux, asthma, and chronic bronchitis. In this situation, you might need medical attention.

Let your doctor know if you have other issues along with phlegm such as blood in your cough, chest pain, wheezing, or shortness of breath.

Bottom Line

Phlegm isn’t usually a medical concern.

Phlegm contains enzymes, as well as antibodies that help your body identify and kill the attackers like viruses and bacteria.

But, an excess of it can hamper day to day normal functioning, and you may feel miserable. You can try the above home remedies to get rid of phlegm naturally. Many clinical and anecdotal data suggest the efficacy of these natural remedies.

Read Next: 12 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Common Cold That’ll Work