9 Natural Remedies to Treat Chest Congestion

Should chest congestion and phlegm buildup keep you from breathing and swallowing normally, consider these nine natural remedies.
9 Natural Remedies to Treat Chest Congestion
Maricela Jiménez López

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Maricela Jiménez López.

Last update: 11 August, 2022

Chest congestion involves a series of symptoms, these come from the accumulation of fluids and mucus in the lungs. So, it could lead to difficulty breathing, chest pain, and overall discomfort.

Nex, we’d like to go over some of the causes and give you five effective homemade treatments that’ll promote relief.

Causes of chest congestion

To begin with, chest congestion is directly connected to several types of viruses and bacteria that make it into the airways. However, it can also be due to allergies and inflammatory diseases.

The conditions that come with it are:

  • Common cold, pneumonia, asthma
  • Respiratory or viral infections.
  • Exposure to toxic gases
  • Bronchitis, sinusitis
  • Excess liquid in the lungs
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Airborne allergies
  • Tuberculosis
  • Lung cancer

Finally, treatment may vary depending on the severity, so always consult your doctor. However, you can still use some natural remedies to relieve it in addition to your prescription medications.

The symptoms of chest congestion

chest congestion

The main symptom of chest congestion is a tight feeling in your chest that reduces your ability to breathe. You may experience other symptoms along with this discomfort such as:

  • Severe coughing
  • Nasal secretions
  • Headache
  • Chest pain and wheezing
  • Throat pain and difficulty swallowing food
  • Lung phlegm

Natural remedies for the relief of chest congestion

If your chest congestion doesn’t require hospitalization or medical treatment, you can resort to some homemade remedies that’ll minimize the severity of your symptoms. Using these we will minimize the severity of the symptoms:

1. Onion and honey

Onion and honey

This remedy has expectorant and mucolytic properties, that is, they help dissolve phlegm and clear up your airways.



  • Firstly, cut up the onion into small slices and place them in a bowl
  • Then, cover them with the honey and let them sit for 10 to 12 hours at room temperature
  • Finally, remove the onions and drink the resulting syrup the next morning

How to consume it

  • Take three or four tablespoons of this remedy a day, until your chest is no longer congested

2. Lemon drink for chest congestion

Secondly, a lemon drink has antibacterial and antiviral properties that help fight the microorganisms that cause respiratory infections.

Overall, its nutrients strengthen the immune system. Vitamin C is a great ally in the relief of colds.



  • Dilute the lemon juice in the warm water and sweeten the drink with the honey

How to consume it

  • Drink a cup in the morning and one before going to bed at night

3. Bay leaf infusion

Laurel infusion

Next, a bay leaf infusion has expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, it can help to reduce the irritation in the airways so it will reduce your congestion.


  • 1 tsp. of chopped bay leaves (5 g.)
  • A c. of water (250 ml.)


  • Firstly, add the bay leaves to a cup of boiling water and cover
  • Then, let steep for 10 minutes, and strain

How to consume it

  • Drink two to three cups a day
  • You can also apply it as a compress on your chest

4. Ginger and black pepper infusion

This antioxidant, anti-inflammatory remedy helps clear chest congestion by decreasing the production of excess mucus. So, it takes advantage of the properties of ginger and black pepper.


  • 1 tsp. of shredded ginger (5 g.)
  • 3 peppercorns
  • A c. of water (250 ml.)
  • 1 tbsp of honey (25 g.)


  • Firstly, add the shredded ginger and the black pepper to a cup of boiling water
  • Then, cover and let it sit for 10 minutes
  • Finally, strain and sweeten it with the honey

How to consume it

  • Drink the infusion twice a day whenever your chest is too congested

5. Thyme infusion for chest congestion

Thyme infusion

Finally, the natural extracts in thyme strengthen your lungs and improve your body’s response to attacks from pathogenic agents.

In addition, its expectorant properties help to eliminate excess mucus and have a calming effect on irritated bronchi.


  • 1 tsp. of thyme (5 g.)
  • A c. of water (250 ml.)
  • 1 tbsp. of honey (25 g.)


  • Firstly, add the thyme to the boiling water and cover it
  • Then, let sit for 10 minutes
  • Finally, strain it and sweeten it with the honey

How to consume it

  • Drink the infusion up to three times a day, especially when you are having trouble breathing

6. Steam

Helping fluids flow freely through the airways is the main objective of this simple therapy. You can do it with a cool air humidifier or vaporizer. Just placing it in the bedroom with the doors and windows closed will help you breathe better. Clean it after every use to prevent recirculation of pathogens.

If you don’t have the appropriate equipment, a container where you can safely deposit the hot water will suffice. Get close to it with a cloth over your head and inhale to loosen the mucus. A shower or a bath in the tub with hot water can also help relieve the symptoms of congestion.

7. Turmeric

Turmeric has curcuminoids, proteins and antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties, which protect the liver and gastrointestinal tract. It’s an astringent and spicy root, natural antibiotic, with remarkable incidence in the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems. In this respect, it relieves chest congestion and cough.


  • 2 tbsp. of turmeric powder 
  • 2 c. of water (500 ml.)

How to consume

  • Add the turmeric in the hot water and use it to do gargles

8. Onion extract

Onion has quercetin, a substance that inhibits the production of histamines, and either eradicates mucus or prevents its accumulation. It has antimicrobial properties so it’s great against infections.

Plants of the genus Allium like onions and garlic possess bioactive sulfur compounds that give them their characteristic odor and flavor. These are volatile and is just what makes you cry when you cut an onion.

Furthemore, onion is mucolytic and expectorant and thus great to treat respiratory problems. By the way, its effectiveness isn’t well documented but grandmas say that chopping an onion and leaving it in the room will clear the airways of any congested person and help them sleep better.


  • 1 onion
  • The juice of two lemons
  • Honey to taste
  • Water (250 ml.)

Directions for use

  • Blend all ingredients and drink it hot three to four times a day

9. Hot milk

You can relieve the discomfort caused by congestion by providing the respiratory tract with moisture, which you can achieve by inhaling moist air or steam but also by drinking hot beverages like water, broths, fruit juice and milk. Add honey, turmeric and black pepper to your warm milk to enhance its mucolytic effects. Drinking milk with honey before bedtime, plus any of the above recommendations, will ensure a restful sleep.

Is your chest tight and you can’t breathe normally? Are you congested and packed with phlegm? Try any of the above remedies to relieve these kinds of discomforts.

Recommendations to avoid chest congestion

The first thing you should take care of to improve immunity is to focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Also, be consistent with a daily exercise routine, at least five days a week. Also, check with your family doctor to see if you need to take a vitamin supplement.

No one is exempt from catching a cold or any other virus that affects the respiratory tract. In fact, there are some things you can do to keep these conditions from causing excess mucus and chest discomfort.

Ventilate spaces like your bedroom and office and keep them clean so that dust doesn’t accumulate — especially if you have dogs or cats as roomies. Moreover, don’t use highly concentrated cleaning products as these can aggravate allergic and asthmatic conditions.

Finally, consult a doctor if the days go by and your congested chest or stuffy nose don’t go away. You want to be sure it isn’t a chronic situation of bronchitis, sinusitis, or other respiratory disease.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.