Natural Decongestants and Expectorants

Sliced Onions Are Natural Decongestants

Onions As Natural Decongestants

The easiest way to use natural decongestants and expectorants when needed is with food. Several foods are very effective at relieving congestion. There are several foods that are natural decongestant remedies.

Onions are natural decongestants and expectorants. Sometimes simply cutting up a raw onion is enough to start loosening phlegm and mucus. If that doesn't work, use the raw onions in any food that you enjoy. Make sure to use lots of onions. I like to eat a sandwich with a thick slice of onion. Many times this is all that is needed to relieve congestion.

But onions are a favorite food of mine. For people who don't like to eat onions, this may not be an option to help relieve congestion. For those people, I recommend keeping onion slices and honey mixed together in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Whenever congestion becomes bothersome, simply swallow a couple of spoonfuls of this natural decongestant remedy.

Peppers As Natural Decongestants

Other Foods As Natural Decongestants

There are other foods that can be used as natural decongestants and expectorants. Any spicy foods will help relieve congestion. Spicy salsa, chili, and other Mexican foods work well to relieve congestion. If you're not a fan of Mexican food, try Wasabi or any type of food with spicy heat. Spicy food that is also hot in temperature helps to relieve congestion, but not necessary.

Steam As a Natural Decongestant

Steam is a miracle worker for relieving congestion. A steam vaporizer is a natural decongestant remedy that works very well with no worrisome side effects. If a little eucalyptus oil is added to the steam, this home remedy is even more effective.

If a steam vaporizer isn't available simply take a steamy shower. If you don't feel well enough to take a shower, heat a pan or bowl of boiling water. A few drops of eucalyptus oil may also be added to the water after it has been removed from the heat. Make a tent with a towel or cloth over your head and inhale the steam. Of course, be careful not to be burned by the steam and never use this easy, natural decongestant method with children.

Neti Pots Work Well as Natural Decongestants

Saltwater As a Natural Decongestant

Another one of the most effective natural decongestants is old-fashioned salt water. Mix about 8 ounces of water with a half tablespoon of salt. There are Neti pots available to use to help inhale the salt water. Neti pots take some getting used to, but work really well as a natural decongestant method. If you don't have a Neti pot, simply cup your hand and pour a little saltwater into your palm. Breathe in the saltwater through one nostril and tilt your head back. After a few seconds, lean your head back down over a sink and let the saltwater drain back out. Repeat with the other nostril. Some of the saltwater may drain down your throat, but is not harmful. If you don't want to make your own saltwater solution, inexpensive saline nasal drops can be found in the pharmacy sections of most stores.

Effective Supplements for Natural Decongestants

There are other natural decongestants available that can usually be found in health stores. If they can't be found in your area, they are readily available online. Just be certain that you purchase well-known, reputable products when using natural decongestants.

Vitamin C is a natural decongestant. The recommended dosage of vitamin C for congestion is up to 5 grams a day. Gradually increase the vitamin C dosage, starting at 500 milligrams daily. Stop increasing the dosage when the congestion improves or when you get to the 5 grams daily limit.

Discontinue use if you experience stomach upset. Don't take chewable vitamin C, as it can be damaging to your teeth. Also avoid high doses of vitamin C if you have anemia, kidney disease, or take blood thinners.

Bromelain is another supplement that is one of the best natural decongestants. Bromelain is derived from the stem of the pineapple plant. Bromelain helps relieve congestion naturally by helping to reduce mucus in the sinus cavities. Bromelain is more effective with congestion that is caused by sinusitis and allergies than congestion associated with colds and flu. The effective bromelain dosage for a natural decongestant is about 400 mg daily.

Avoid taking bromelain if you are allergic to pineapples. Contact your physician or pharmacist if you take prescription drugs before using bromelain. Bromelain can increase the effectiveness of other medications by causing more effective absorption, so a lowered dosage may be necessary.

Buy Bromelain - A Natural Decongestant

Wild Oregano Oil - One of the Most Effective Natural Decongestants

Wild oregano oil is an effective natural antifungal, antiviral, and antibiotic. Wild oregano oil contains many compounds that are natural decongestants as well. Wild oregano oil helps with congestion caused by many conditions including sinusitis, colds, and allergies. To use wild oregano oil, just take a few drops under your tongue. Wild oregano oil is somewhat hot, so you can mix it in juice or honey if you like.

Be certain to buy authentic 100% wild oregano oil to use as a natural decongestant. Sometimes similar herbs such as thyme are labeled as oregano oil. These oils don't have the beneficial properties of wild oregano oil. Trying to use the herb oregano in food will also not have an effect on congestion.

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Natural Decongestants and Expectorants Comments 78 comments

Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

You have some great ideas there. I use salt for gargling but never thought of using this way. Thanks for sharing these, have bookmarked this.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

I never knew about onions but have certainly used steam and salt water many times. I live in a river valley where the entire population suffers from what my Dr. calls "Delaware Valley post nasal drip":-) I better put onions on the shopping list.

msms profile image

msms 8 years ago

You deftly moved in your Hubpage from cheap free remedy to the costlier ones. Good style of writing and well laid out information for a common problem. Nose is front of our face anyway.


solarshingles profile image

solarshingles 8 years ago from london

Very educational and very useful hub, Angela. Nasal problems by congestion is a substantial part of our life. You describe many ways, which work. Thanks!

Wbisbill profile image

Wbisbill 8 years ago from Tennessee USA

Very informative. Thanks for clearing the air!

John Chancellor profile image

John Chancellor 8 years ago from Tennessee

Very informative and helpful. I never knew about the onions either. Thaanks.

livelonger profile image

livelonger 8 years ago from San Francisco

Excellent advice & information Angela - thank you!

cgull8m profile image

cgull8m 8 years ago from North Carolina

Great tips Angela, I will try this next time. Cheers.

starrwriter profile image

starrwriter 8 years ago from Cottage Grove, Wisconsin

Good information. I have trouble sleeping because of congestion, so I am sure this will help me. Thank you!

Acorn Valley profile image

Acorn Valley 8 years ago from WV

Thanks for the tips. As more and more medications are being questioned because of safety, I'm looking for more natural remedies, especially for my children. I'll bookmark this for the round of stuffy noses.

MM Del Rosario profile image

MM Del Rosario 8 years ago from NSW, Australia

i remember last winter, i got really have a bad cough, i tried lemon, it helped but i haven't tried onions.......

johnr54 profile image

johnr54 8 years ago from Texas

I like this kind of info, as I've always had trouble with over the counter remedies, like drowsiness. Alternatives are always welcome.

stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

My mom keeps saying to try the yeti pot. I think I am officially in the market now! Thanks!

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Amy_Roberts 8 years ago

Great to have some natural tips! Really interesting hub!

Karen and Lesley profile image

Karen and Lesley 8 years ago from United Kingdom

It's a Fab Hub Angela. I love all the hot food, especially Mexican, who are also very large onion users. Another thing I use that I wouldn't be without is Eucalyptus oil as it is high in cineole 1-8, a natural decongestant. There are some lovely versions of this oil. My favourite is radiata.

Tania101 profile image

Tania101 8 years ago from Canada

Great info Angela.

I also found out while having my sushi that wasabi is great for opening your passages.

stevemark122000 profile image

stevemark122000 8 years ago from Southern California

Lots of great information here, thanks.

Karen N profile image

Karen N 8 years ago from United States

Good tips, I'll have to give some of them a try.

psioni profile image

psioni 8 years ago from Toronto

Great work on this Hub. By the way, peppers are not only a good decongestant, they can also raise your metabolism and thereby help you lose weight and excess fat.

Uriel profile image

Uriel 8 years ago from Lebanon

i have to agree onions are one of my favorites and garic sauce works its way into every meal (:P)

Rogalstm 8 years ago

As a child, onion "juice" (the liquid obtained from marinating sliced onions) was the only thing we ever got to help with colds and flu. My grandmother had used it with her children, and my mother continued the tradition out of necessity (we could never afford over the counter remedies). It appears that grandmother was "right on the money"!

Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Good info, Angela.  I put red onions on my breakfast sandwiches - sauteed in olive oil, sweet cream butter and lemon juice.  It works great!

tourmaline2777 profile image

tourmaline2777 8 years ago from Chicago

Great information!! And wasabi is definitely tops on my list for opening up those sinuses.

penslv 8 years ago

I never knew that about onions. Great news for me. I love onions.

DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

Good info! Another food that will clear the congestion is horseradish.

Haris Amin profile image

Haris Amin 8 years ago from Mars

Fresh mint Leaves boil them in water and use the water, another good example of natural decongestant

Black  8 years ago

There ain't nothin congestion related that a little 'Tussin wouldn't take care of.

Chicagofrank profile image

Chicagofrank 8 years ago from Chicago

I have terrible allergies. I loved some of the info you have here! I'm going to give some a try!

sarasm profile image

sarasm 8 years ago from USA

Thank you. I am always looking for natural cures!

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bstnh1 8 years ago

I love onions and eat loads of them - yellow as well as sweet. I don't see where they do anything at all for my congestion.

mkhovu profile image

mkhovu 7 years ago

Thank you for this useful hub Angela. With the hayfever in the air, I am sure this will be more useful. Great tips.

Kelsey Tallis profile image

Kelsey Tallis 7 years ago from USA-Ohio

Interesting ideas here, thank you! I'm trying to use less over-the-counter medications and am always looking for natural alternatives for certain health problems. This helps a lot!

skater  7 years ago

hot sauce works to

tina 7 years ago

kimchee is spiced cabbage a very famous Korean food. this is sold in jars in many supermnarkets regrigerated section near the asian foods (like tofu and bean sprouts)

tina 7 years ago

almost forgot

kimchee is delicious..

a 12 oz jar is almost 3.00

btw,.. thanks for this important page .

I am doing my checking, because I am suffering the worst sinus infection of my life involving even my ears, lungs and throat. this is due to my un-checked allergies of dust and pollen.

left uncheckedthese allergies can worsen and cause asthma and other serious lung disease.

the hospital reccommended decongestants as a part of the remedy.

but the paper states that chemical decongestants are dangerous for people with certain conditions, and bad for everyone in general. risks and benefits to be weighed carefully.

Sparkle Chi profile image

Sparkle Chi 7 years ago from Chandler, AZ

Great natural suggestions! I prefer to have some raw pineapple instead of extracted bromelain. Vitamin C is important for so many other things also. My favorite is using tea tree oil. I rub a few drops over my sinuses, or throat, wherever the congestion is. I also put a drop or two under my nose. When this doesn't help enough, I make sure to clean my ears with a q-tip dipped in H2O2. The bubbling in the ears means it is fighting off an infection!

midnightbliss profile image

midnightbliss 7 years ago from Hermosa Beach

when i have colds i take vitamin c and eat a lot of spicy foods. I love to eat onions, only if it is cooked, but i dont like raw onions. hehehe

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Nelle Hoxie 7 years ago

My husband makes me chicken soup with lots of hot sauce, when I am stuffed up.

fortunerep profile image

fortunerep 7 years ago from North Carolina

Great infromation. I love onions and maybe I will try it.


Sexy jonty profile image

Sexy jonty 7 years ago from India

Very well written hub .....

very much informative ......

Thank you very much for your great hub, for good advice, good wishes and support. Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us.

magdielqr profile image

magdielqr 7 years ago

Very informative and interesting!

ladyonthemirror profile image

ladyonthemirror 7 years ago from Indonesia

Thank you this article is very usefull for me

tonyhubb profile image

tonyhubb 7 years ago

Good article! Thank you!

Dorrene R profile image

Dorrene R 7 years ago

I love this article!

bengriston profile image

bengriston 7 years ago

Hot peppers do wonders for you when you are congested.

Lisa H-B 7 years ago

Thanks for the great ideas. By the way, chicken broth is a natural expectorant; it thins the mucus. This helps nasal congestion as well as chest congestion.

FeliceA profile image

FeliceA 7 years ago

Thanks for the info. Any thoughts on how to make using a Netti Pot more comfortable? I've had one for years, which I refuse to throw away, but I've not used it very often either. thanks.

rdelp profile image

rdelp 7 years ago

I've always wanted to try a neti pot but haven't yet.

Maria 7 years ago

Cayenne pepper helps

easy 7 years ago

where are the natural expectorants....

Trusted Marketing profile image

Trusted Marketing 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Just got over a few weeks needing this hubpage. Thanks, I'll pass it along.

Edi Rullet 7 years ago

Try fresh ginger (shredded), red pepper, lemon and honey in hot water, strain and drink.

Successful Living profile image

Successful Living 7 years ago from Prague, Czech Republic

This is a very interesting hub--and I have tried several of these methods, with my allergies, and they do work very well. One of my favorites is the neti pot!

Here, in the Czech Republic, my doctor has even told me to eat raw onions and garlic. These are very potent natural ingredients, but I've not been able to eat them raw! However, they still do work even when cooked--this is my preferred way to take onions and garlic--usually in soup.

ronniejo 7 years ago

I just read this page after almost passing out from congestion in my throat. I was unable to breathe so my neighbour who was visiting, hurriedly suggested table salt followed by water. That eased the clog and I was able to get more air. I read this page, then chopped some red onions and ate them raw with with some honey, and before long, I was coughing up the phlegm like nobody's business....and without choking. Thanks for the helpful hints.

je 7 years ago

On the neti pot - works great. Try using it in the shower -- easier than over a sink. I keep a cheap salt shaker and the pot in my shower. Pour in some salt, fill up with shower water, you can be gross/messy as you use it, but all washes off in the shower. DON'T leave out the salt -- will burn like heck. You don't need the packets that come with some pots, can just use plain table salt.

For those of you who are still hesitant to use it... it's just salt water, and you are in control, so you're not going to drown.

Jeniferr profile image

Jeniferr 6 years ago from United States

There is some good advice here. Not everyone likes to get all hopped up on cold or allergy medicine. I know I don't!

4FoodSafety profile image

4FoodSafety 6 years ago from Fontana, WI

Great Hub! I learned about - very well written. Great tip on the neti pot in the shower - that might be allot more comfortable.

Heather 6 years ago

Hi I am from Brisbane Australia & have never heard of a Netti Pot, can someone please explain how it is used, thanks cheers Heather

ptosis profile image

ptosis 6 years ago from Arizona

Used to eat the red hot pepper that are in vinegar in the glass jars at the store. Most of them were green - I pick out the red ones - just so I can breathe!

You can use this as much as you want is the OTC nasal wash is :

Alkalol is an alkaline saline solution that includes a mix of menthol, camphor, eucalyptol, thymol, and oils of wintergreen, spearmint, pine, and cinnamon

DANIEL 6 years ago


GdessLacey profile image

GdessLacey 6 years ago from Texas

Awesome info!!! For the onions I found a recipe that said to add sugar to a diced onion and put in the fridge until a syrup forms. I've used it for my son, when he was too young to take medicine I could buy. And his cold cleared right up. And gave it to him while he was teething to prevent him from catching a cold. I've only needed to take it once myself and it actually didn't taste that bad.

snagerries profile image

snagerries 6 years ago from Singapore

Hi Angela,

That's a very educational and a very useful hub. Nasal Problems by congestion is a substantial part of our life. You describe many ways, which really works. Thanks a lot!


profile image

ankigarg87 6 years ago

an excellent and well written article

Mary 6 years ago

Needed relief. So stuffed I could barely swallow. Ate raw onion, breathed in eucalyptus steam, and took vitamin C. One side has completely cleared and pressure in face greatly reduced. Wonderful! Thank you! Now I can sleep. It is almost 3 am here.

Charity 6 years ago

Umm...I know you are suppose to and can poor water from a netti pot etc. into your nose but they say to NEVER breath it in! I don't know if the breathing in the salt water advice is safe. You are only suppose to poor it in while breathing through your mouth. As was stated on Oprah.

pixelspotlight profile image

pixelspotlight 6 years ago from Missouri

It wasn't clear to me if these were in order of best to worst? or in any particular order at all? I think that could really help this hub out. Thanks!

trasd 6 years ago

Will try it thanx Angela

isjung profile image

isjung 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

I've never used a neti pot, but I found out about how powerful salt water is in a very strange way. I was on the beach having a surfing lesson, and after several hours in the water, I couldn't stop my nose from running! My instructor laughed and said that it was just an effect of all the salt water going up my nose. :)

irbis profile image

irbis 6 years ago

Great hub with so much information! Onions and honey or with sugar to make syrup work, but I have also read a lot about salt pipes. They use rock salts from salt mines in Poland or Bulgaria and Rumania, and doctors found out that men who work in them don't suffer any respiratory problems.

craig 5 years ago

So much for all the decongestants, what about what i asked for, EXPECTORANTS?

Amelia 5 years ago

My girls love onions and we tried the onion and honey mix and they really liked it !

MD 5 years ago

Onions will help loosen congestion. You can also use an ice pack placed between the eyes to reduce inflamation. Be cautious when using any SPICY foods on a regular basis, the lining of the stomach may not tolerate excessive amounts of spicy foods. Also, when a sinus is draining, some of the drainage will get into the stomach, that bacteria may be enhanced by spicy foods and cause ulcers. Same with Orange Juice, if used as a decongestant, the choice should be LOW ACID OJ. One final thing that will help with congestion is to stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water or clear liquids. Thank you all for the valuable information and opinions. Expectorants are intended to loosen the congestion. They are helpful. A natural Expectorant is HOT mint tea followed by a cool drink of water. Remember a Decongestant followed with lots of clear fluids will work as an expectorant.

steveso profile image

steveso 5 years ago from Brockport, NY

Thank you for the information. I definitely will try them for my chronic sinusitis.

dani 5 years ago

thank u verz much, Im allergic to chemical medicine, and I didn't know anythink about those natural helpers! u helped me lots. god bless u and happy new year!

Betty Garcia 5 years ago

After making a mixture of warm water and salt I use a baby bulb ,fill with solution over sink. Will drain right out.

anon 5 years ago

Hi there - good ideas! Just wanted to point out that you should never use regular tap water up your nose. Though our tap water is safe to drink, there can be harmful organisms still in the water after treatment that could make this potentially dangerous. Always use distilled or safety-sealed saline solution from the drug store for this method.

Earl 4 years ago

Dittos on the distilled water, tap water can cause a brain infection!!. Instead of a Netti pot I got a squeeze bottle from my allergist, the tube in it goes all the way to the bottom so you can stand erect and squeeze the wter through the sinus cavity, in one sode , out the other nostril, works well

Sandra 3 years ago

I think I missed the expectorants?

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