Pneumonia: Symptoms, Remedies and Treatment
Affecting nearly 500 million people around the globe, pneumonia is a serious and deadly condition, so it is vital to understand the symptoms and be aware of remedies and treatment options, such as the use of sesame seeds, cayenne pepper, fenugreek tea, ginger, vegetable juice, turmeric, lemon juice and steam inhalation, among others.
One of the most frightening sensations is the inability to breathe normally, and when someone suffers from pneumonia, this fear becomes a reality. Characterized as an inflammatory condition of the lungs, primarily the tiny sacs where air is exchanged (alveoli), this condition comes in multiple varieties and can be caused by a number of things. The most common causes are bacterial or viral infections, along with fungi, parasites and mycoplasmas, while autoimmune diseases and certain medications can also increase the risk of developing pneumonia. Bacterial cases usually present with a very high fever, while viral cases initially resemble influenza in their presentation. Other factors can also put you in danger of pneumonia, such as smoking, diabetes, other chronic illnesses that weaken the immune system, recent respiratory trauma, cerebral palsy or other cognitive conditions. Pneumonia is commonly a secondary symptom of a larger or more serious problem, but if left untreated, pneumonia is often fatal. Bacterial infections that cause pneumonia can commonly be taken care of with antibiotics, but other forms of pneumonia are much harder to treat.
Some of the common symptoms of pneumonia include painful stabbing sensations during deep breathing, heavy cough (may produce sputum or blood, or it can be dry), fever, chills, shortness of breath, headache, loss of appetite, confusion and excessive sweating. The condition is typically identified through a chest X-ray or a sputum test, and if you are experiencing one or more of these pneumonia symptoms, it is of the utmost importance to see a medical professional as soon as possible, given how dangerous and potentially infectious this inflammatory condition is. That being said, there are a number of natural treatments and remedies, as well as lifestyle changes, that have shown success in the treatment and prevention of pneumonia.
Treatments and Remedies for Pneumonia
Ginger: Many people think of ginger as a topping for sushi, or as a delicious variety of tea, but ginger can also be used for the treatment or prevention of pneumonia. The active ingredient, gingerol, is a stimulant for the immune system, and can help to eliminate any bacterial or viral infections that may be the underlying cause of your pneumonia. Ginger can be eaten raw or in the more appetizing form of tea, in which you steep ginger root in boiling water for 10-20 minutes.
Cayenne Pepper: One of the most popular and common remedies for pneumonia is cayenne pepper. It may seem like cayenne pepper would act as an irritant to the lungs, or even increase inflammation, but in fact, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper helps to cut through the accumulated mucus and phlegm in the lungs. It functions as an expectorant, helping to clear out the lungs and remove the material on which bacterial and viral infections can flourish.
Turmeric: A very powerful antioxidant named curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, a popular spice in many Eastern and Middle Eastern cuisines. Curcumin is able to act as a mucolytic, helping to expel excess phlegm and liquid from the lungs, while also providing antibacterial and antiviral properties to the respiratory tract. You can mix turmeric with water and spread it on your chest for quick relief or drink it in a glass of water, along with black pepper.
Lemon Juice: The antibacterial nature of lemon juice is well known, in addition to its high vitamin C content. Consuming lemon juice with high concentration of antioxidantsis an excellent way to boost your immune system and reduce the overall body temperature, which is crucial if you are suffering from a bacterial case of pneumonia. Lemon juice also cuts through mucus and phlegm, reducing inflammation and helping to ease breathing.
Steam Inhalation: One of the simplest ways to reduce coughing, congestion and inflammation in the lungs is by inhaling steam. This can help to loosen tightly packed phlegm and mucus, allowing you to expel it and clear your respiratory tracts. You can do this by breathing in over a pot of boiling water, or take a hot shower and allow the steam to build up. Take slow deep breaths and enjoy easier breathing.
Quit Smoking: Any weakening of the respiratory tracts can put you at higher risk for pneumonia. For that reason, smoking is one of the key risk factors in pneumonia, so an excellent preventative method is to simply quit smoking. Tobacco has a wide range of negative effects on the body, so quitting will not just help you avoid pneumonia, but also countless other chronic illnesses and potentially life-threatening conditions, including lung cancer.
Improve Your Diet: Diabetes is one of the complicating factors for pneumonia, as are other chronic illnesses and respiratory infections. By altering your diet, losing weight, and increasing your physical activity, you can significantly lower your chances of developing this inflammatory condition. Fruits, vegetables and healthy fats should be increased if you want to make a real difference in your overall nutritional health.
Fenugreek Tea: Fenugreek seeds are used for many different natural remedies, from a digestive aid to an expectorant. In the case of pneumonia, fenugreek works as a mucolytic, helping the body expel the accumulated phlegm in the respiratory tracts. You can steep fenugreek seeds in boiling water and drink the resultant mixture for best results. It also induces sweating and “breaking” of a fever, which can help expel toxins more quickly from the body.
Vegetable Juice: As mentioned earlier, a high intake of vegetables and fruits is essential for an improved diet, but vegetable juices are particularly effective. They are soothing on the throat, and can directly attack the infection in your lungs with concentrated vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. SMaking a vegetable juice blend of green, leafy vegetables, carrots, turnips, beans, tomatoes or beets can be a delicious and nutrient-packed meal that can boost the immune system and deliver certain antioxidants to your system, like beta carotene, that will help cleanse toxins and other pathogens causing the symptoms.
Goldenseal Tea: As an extremely powerful antibacterial agent, goldenseal is used for a wide variety of infections to boost the immune system. In the case of pneumonia, goldenseal’s direct impact on the respiratory system is extremely valuable, and can help ease breathing and reduce inflammation in the respiratory tracts, allowing the body’s immune system to more effectively battle the condition.
Mullein: Studies on mullein have shown it to have a measurable impact on lung inflammation, so it is often chosen to treat pneumonia in cases around the world. You can make a mullein infusion of the plant’s leaves and then drink this concoction to eliminate coughs and congestion. However, be careful in the preparation, as mullein leaves can be highly allergenic if handled incorrectly.
Garlic: As with so many other medical conditions, garlic can be readily used in a number of ways to treat the symptoms and underlying cause of pneumonia. Due to the active ingredient of garlic – allicin – and its antibacterial and antiviral properties, garlic has been used for centuries for respiratory infections. Garlic is also known to break up phlegm, making it more difficult for the infection to take hold and stick around in your lungs.
Tea Tree Oil: Famed for its natural health abilities in Australia, tea tree oil has become a critical part of home remedies around the world, due to its powerful antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties. For this reason, the use of tea tree oil is highly recommended for the treatment of pneumonia. You can mix tea tree oil into coconut oil and then spread the mixture topically on the chest, which can relieve pain and inflammation. You can also boil water with tea tree oil in it and then inhale the steam as it rises. Do not ingest tea tree oil directly, as it is extremely potent and concentrated.
Turpentine Oil: Consuming turpentine doesn’t seem like a wise choice, but as a topical remedy for pneumonia, it can’t be beat. If you mix turpentine oil with another carrier oil, such as coconut or camphor, you can rub this mixture onto the chest and leave it on overnight. Inhaling the fumes overnight will loosen the phlegm and speed the healing process, while also helping you breathe normally!
Echinacea: Widely known for its ability to strengthen the immune system, echinacea oil is a popular home remedy for pneumonia. With its antiviral and antibacterial capacity, echinacea can be mixed with hot water, honey and spearmint to form a delicious and highly effective tonic to clear up any infections in the lungs.
Sesame Seeds: As a natural expectorant, sesame seeds can help reduce lung congestion and promote the expulsion of the bacteria and viruses that may have lodged in those materials. If you can breathe easier and have eliminated the “home” for these pathogens, you are much closer to recovery from pneumonia!
Oregano Oil: This essential herbal oil has an impressive level of antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help it quickly seek out and destroy the pathogen causing your pneumonia symptoms. You can mix a few drops of oregano oil (it is highly potent) in with water and drink it 1-2 times per day, or put a few drops on your pillow and inhale it throughout the night for best results.
Final Word of Warning: While these home remedies have proven to be effective in many traditional and anecdotal instances, it is important to see a trained medical professional if you show signs and symptoms of pneumonia. The condition can worsen quickly and be fatal if not addressed, so these remedies should be seen as complementary remedies to more formal medical treatment.