Natural health: Chronic bronchitis and treating burns

Megan Sheppard gives her advice on dealing with chronic bronchitis and how best to treat burns.

Q. My grandmother has chronic bronchitis, which gets worse at night. The coughing persists even when she is trying to eat her meals. 

She has medications for everything, and her doctor is very good, but this cough seems to be getting on top of her. What would you suggest?

A. Chronic bronchitis is typically a result of the lungs being irritated for an extended period of time, usually through cigarette smoking or even long-term exposure to second-hand smoke.

However, antihistamines and decongestants won’t help with chronic bronchitis symptoms, in fact they may make it worse as a result of drying and thickening the mucus, which makes it more difficult to cough up. 

It is also important to watch for dark, thick mucus, especially if any blood is coming up with it.

In the meantime, your grandmother should avoid foods that are difficult to chew, or may become lodged in the windpipe during a coughing episode. Slow cooked, blended, and mashed foods are ideal.

Juices and broths are also a great way to get in large quantities of nutrients, and are often very valuable in this type of condition.

Obviously, avoiding cigarettes, or being around others who smoke is crucial to her recovery. 

Aerosol products such as hairspray, deodorants, and insect sprays will also irritate her respiratory system.

Dehydration can be an issue, so water, diluted vegetable and/or fruit juices, and herbal teas will help to ensure that she is well hydrated and assist the mucus in moving from her lungs more easily.

There are herbal remedies that are very useful in bronchitis, but you will need to first check that they aren’t contraindicated for use alongside any of the medications that she is on. When in doubt, avoid using a non-prescribed remedy.

Horehound tea helps to thin mucous secretions — use a teaspoon of dried herb per cup of near-boiling water, and sweeten with honey if desired. Take three to four cups daily. 

Slippery elm can also help, but may cause loose bowels in some people.

Echinacea and astragalus provide immune support, and have antibacterial and antiviral properties. 

It is important to rotate these herbs if you are going to use them, particularly in treating a chronic condition.

Take 200mg of Echinacea twice daily for a week, then switch to 200mg twice daily of astragalus root for a week, and continue cycling the two herbs in this manner until the condition has cleared.

Q. What natural remedies do you recommend for treating burns at home?

A. How to treat a burn depends very much on the type and severity of the burn itself. 

First degree burns cause tenderness, mild swelling, and redness; second degree burns cause pain, redness, blistering, and moderate swelling; third degree burns damage the nerves, turn the skin black, white, or red, and the swelling is serious — there may be no immediate pain due to nerve damage and shock.

Always call for medical help if you are in doubt as to how severe a burn is.

Other instances where you should seek assistance include: when it is a first degree burn, but it covers a large area or is unusually painful; if the burn covers more than five square centimetres of skin on the hands or face; if it is a chemical or electrical burn; if pus fills the blisters or you develop a fever or swollen glands.

Otherwise, it is handy to have the following natural remedies in your cabinet for first-degree burns: pure aloe vera gel (apply as needed, fresh from the plant is ideal).

Chamomile tea bags (brew up a strong infusion, add ice cubes to quickly cool and dilute, soak the wound dressing in this brew and wrap on the area). 

Lavender essential oil (can be applied neat to a mild burn and helps to prevent scarring); calendula cream (applied to skin to reduce swelling and prevent infection).


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