When you have a cough or congested lungs, you want soothing relief that won’t make you feel drowsy or jittery. Fortunately, nature has given us two of the best ingredients—ivy and thyme—that relieve the irritation of cough, open bronchial pathways, and help you breathe easier. They are the topic of this Terry Talks Nutrition®.
Stop Feeling Short of Breath
When we feel short of breath for any reason, we realize very quickly what a blessing it is to have clear bronchial airways. After all, our respiratory tract is the crucial link that takes in oxygen from the air we breathe and shepherds it into the bloodstream. These “bronchi” are 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 the cilia - very fine, hair-like projections in the mucous membranes that, most of the time, keep the respiratory system moist and running smoothly. But when the bronchial airways feel clogged or closed, they need our help.
For many people, conventional treatments to open and soothe bronchial airways that have been irritated due to a cold, bronchitis or asthma can cause a host of side effects, including jitteriness, fatigue, and a sore, dry throat. Ivy and thyme extracts, with years of traditional use and clinical research in published journals, can open airways without these adverse effects.
What’s the Difference Between Colds, Bronchitis, and Asthma?
Although they have similar effects on our ability to breathe, colds, bronchitis, and asthma are different conditions.
Colds, although associated mostly with fall and winter seasons, can actually occur any time of year. The common cold is caused by a viral infection. Most noticeably, it irritates the bronchial tissue, causing the characteristic runny nose, cough, and sneezing that makes colds so difficult to get through. While there is no one “common cold”—they are caused by over 100 different viruses—they have similarities in respiratory symptoms.
Of course, as common as they may be, you don’t want to let cold symptoms go unattended. Left on their own, they can develop into sinus infections, ear infections (especially in children) or other secondary conditions, like bronchitis. So aside from comfort, there are good reasons to address the symptoms as quickly as possible.
Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchi – whether due to cold symptoms or other germs or allergens, the effect is the same. 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.
Chronic bronchitis is a whole different matter. It is a serious condition, and if you suspect that you have it, please seek professional care and advice from a licensed healthcare practitioner. Chronic bronchitis can be a condition of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) so it’s important to get it checked out.
Asthma is a chronic condition that can be triggered by a number of things: pollen and allergies, dust, cold air, nervousness or tension, exercise, or pollution. Some individuals just seem to be more prone to asthma than others, so genetics probably plays a part.
When someone has an asthma attack, their bronchial airways narrow and tighten. The inflammation produces mucus, which adds to the “out of breath” feeling. Severe attacks can be very frightening, and unfortunately, the anxiety over possible attacks can make mild symptoms even worse.
While there are medications that alleviate symptoms, they can also bring about a number of side effects, including agitation, aggression, or depression. Of course, I’m not going to tell you to simply stop taking your asthma medication and switch to a natural product without talking to your doctor first. But I believe that the powerful natural support I recommend is an excellent supplemental answer.
Natural Remedies are Best
In each of these cases, the causes of colds, bronchitis, and asthma differ, but the goal of an effective remedy should be to relieve congestion in the lungs – without problem ingredients. For these concerns, 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 leaves active ingredients.
Ivy leaf extract reduces and calms troublesome and painful coughing, but does not completely or artificially block the action, either. It also causes thick mucus to become liquified 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 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 ivy with other 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 and ivy are 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.
Safe, Effective, and Just Right for Kids, too
Ivy leaf and thyme extracts are available in both tablet and liquid form. The liquid form is a perfect option for children or anyone who has trouble swallowing tablets.
Breathe Deeply with Natural Relief
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 agitating or sedative side effects of conventional prescription or over-the-counter approaches. That is why I recommend ivy leaf extract and thyme extract whenever you have a cold, sore throat, bronchitis or upper respiratory congestion. You’ll be amazed at the simple joy of being able to take a deep, calming breath again.
For colds, sore throats, bronchitis or upper respiratory congestion, I recommend taking ivy and thyme extracts.