When you’re sick with a cold, flu or sinusitis, you will often find yourself full of phlegm and suffering with a stuffy nose. But these seemingly unpleasant symptoms are actually helping you fight the illness, because your body produces more mucus to increase your levels of antiseptic enzymes and antibodies. The gushing nose also helps flush out germs, while simultaneously making it difficult for other bacteria to enter. But when this happens, your nasal passages are likely to become inflamed and your chest will usually feel congested.
While it's great that your body fights the virus, it’s still an uncomfortable situation, and you will be grateful for some relief. A decongestant can help thin out the mucus and reduce its production, while an expectorant can loosen the phlegm and help you cough it out. Although you can buy decongestants and expectorants at the pharmacy, they’re often loaded with other ingredients that can make you drowsy. Here is a recipe for a natural decongestant and expectorant to save your day (and night).
This recipe is made using cayenne pepper, honey and ginger, all recognized expectorants that can loosen phlegm and mucus, so you can expel it from your body more easily. For decongestion, the capsaicin in cayenne pepper (the component that makes it spicy) helps relieve the swelling and inflammation that narrows your nasal passages. Apple cider vinegar and lemon are also added to the mixture because of their decongestant properties. Apple cider vinegar serves to thin the mucus that’s secreted, allowing for congested areas to be drained; while lemon juice is also known to help with congestion, and it also gives the mixture a more pleasant taste.
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- Pour the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar in a pot and bring it to a simmer.
- Stir in the honey, cayenne pepper and ginger.
- Pour the contents into a jar and store in a cool, dry place.
Adults can take 1 or 2 tablespoons daily, as needed. Shake the jar well before using.
Tip: Warming the mixture can be a pleasant way to consume this tonic.