Our lungs are our organs of respiration. They are responsible for supplying oxygenated blood to every organ of our bodies, to energise us with life and to eliminate waste matter from our cells via expiration.

With a Melbourne winter in full swing, unfortunately this also means respiratory infections! Whether it’s a cough, acute bronchitis or even pneumonia, these lung infections are disruptive and painful to deal with, and can have lingering effects for weeks after. The good news is that nature has provided us with a variety of herbs with medicinal constituents that can support our lungs and respiratory system.



Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a culinary herb, whose leaves and flowers have been traditionally used to treat spasmodic coughs, due to its antispasmodic and expectorant properties. Traditionally, infusions of thyme sweetened with honey would be given to people with bronchitis, whooping cough and sore throats. Thyme’s main constituent is the volatile oil thymol, which has been praised for its antispasmodic effects on the trachea, as well as its antimicrobial properties against a number of bacteria, making it a great herb for treating bacterial lung infections.



Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a medicinal herb used most commonly for dry and irritating coughs with bronchial congestion. The leaves and flowers have been traditionally used for respiratory conditions, due to their effects on the mucous membranes of the lower respiratory tract. Its demulcent qualities soothe an irritated respiratory tract, while its saponin constituents stimulate fluid production, which can help with the expectoration of mucous. Mullein is an excellent herb for treating bronchitis, an asthmatic wheeze, or for when a productive cough lingers after the infection.


Elecampane (Inula helenium) is both a warming and drying aromatic tonic, who’s roots are used as one of the best herbal expectorants for wet, boggy, cold, congested and mucous that is stuck in the chest. It can reach deep into the lungs and gets things moving again by clearing and releasing old infected mucous.

Specific to bronchial infections, Elencampane was historically used for tuberculosis. Also a strong antimicrobial, it helps resolve bacterial infections and for shortness of breath and swollen and inflamed respiratory conditions such as a chronic cough, bronchitis and asthma.


Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is not specifically a lung herb but has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to support the body's immune system. Its immune enhancing properties make it protective against the common cold and other respiratory infections. Astragalus stimulates macrophage activity and enhances antibody responses, meaning it works to prevent and treat against common colds, inluenza and lower respiratory infections.

Astragalus is best used when an infection is chronic or re-occurring and where someone’s immune system function is compromised, as in chronic bronchitis or in recovery after pneumonia.

If you’d like to try some of these natural herbal interventions to strengthen your immune system, and reduce the severity, duration, and incidence of respiratory infections then contact me for an appointment. They can also help with prevention of future infections.



Jen Kellett