We cannot live without oxygen. Our respiratory tract is the crucial link that takes the air we breathe and shepherds it into the bloodstream. The bronchial tract, or “bronchi”, is a fine system of tubes, where incoming air is passed along to approximately 500 million air cells. Technically known as alveoli, these cells ensure that the blood is able to absorb oxygen and distribute it throughout the body.
But this system is very sensitive. Dust, bacteria, and viruses are normally kept at bay by cilia – very fine, hair-like projections in the mucous membranes that keep the respiratory system moist and running smoothly. At least most of the time.
However, when germs or bacteria reach the bronchi, the mucosa can become inflamed, causing bronchitis. This inflammation triggers the bronchi to increase mucus production as a way of protecting itself. Unfortunately, the excessive mucus makes breathing tough and causes heavy coughing. Plus, the mucus lodged in the bronchi provides an ideal environment for harmful bacteria to multiply. When this happens, the bronchial tract is under siege and needs help.
But standard cough and cold remedies aren’t always ideal, due to problem ingredients, such as alcohol, or sedative side effects. Fortunately, nature has an answer.
For many people, climbing ivy (Hedra helix) can be a pesky problem. As anyone with a garden knows, it can overtake your yard and home if not cut back frequently. But medicinally, it has remarkable benefits. Ivy leaf extract is a clinically proven cough medicine that is an excellent choice for anyone with bronchitis and/or asthma. Ivy has unique modes of action: as an expectorant, it helps bring up mucus from the lungs; as a mucolytic, it helps dissolve mucus; and as a bronchial dilator, it helps open up passageways so you breathe easier.
And unlike many conventional solutions, it can be used by children. In fact, in a recent study, a survey of 52,470 children confirmed a high level of tolerability of ivy leaf’s active ingredients.
Ivy leaf extract reduces and calms troublesome and painful coughing, but does not completely or artificially block the action. It also causes thick mucus to become liquefied and the respiratory tract to be less constricted. This is important because it allows the individual to readily cough up mucus to make breathing and expectoration easier and less painful. As a result, the urge to cough caused by the excessive production of thick mucus is also reduced. Clinical studies have documented that this highly specialized ivy extract is an effective and extremely well tolerated herbal medicine recommended for respiratory tract disorders, including asthma, in all age groups.
Many popular European formulations that relieve bronchitis, asthma, cough and other respiratory disorders combine herbal ingredients to be even more effective. And that’s something I recommend in this case, too.
Along with ivy leaf extract, thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is an effective partner. Compounds in thyme – primarily the phenols thymol and carvacrol – provide its antitussive (preventing and treating a cough), antispasmodic, and expectorant (thinning the mucus to allow for coughing out) actions.
Thyme, when combined with ivy, continues to be one of the most popular and commonly recommended herbal blends in Europe for dry spasmodic coughs, and due to its overall safety, it is a favorite for treating coughs in children. People who are required to take several medications at the same time can use ivy leaf extract and thyme without concern due to the fact that the medicines are extremely well tolerated and no interactions are yet known.
Breathing is something so basic that we tend to take it for granted – until it becomes difficult. The good news is you can choose natural and effective ingredients that don’t have the side effects of conventional or over-the-counter approaches. That is why I recommend a formula containing ivy leaf extract and thyme extract whenever you have a cold, sore throat, bronchitis or upper respiratory congestion.
Terry recommends a product with these ingredients. Look for it at your local health food store.
Containing Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) Leaf Extract standardized to contain 2% essential oil, Climbing Ivy (Hedra helix) Leaf Extract standardized to contain 10% hederacoside C by HPLC