Mucus and cough are two of the most common symptoms of colds and flu, quite frequent at this time of the year. To stop them, we can seek the natural help of medicinal plants with expectorant and mucolytic properties.

Mucus is a viscous fluid generated by the epithelial cells of our respiratory system. They are made up of 96% water and 4% proteins, such as mucin, which gives it consistency, and others with a defensive function (lactoferrin, lysozyme or immunoglobulins A and G, among others) and minerals (sodium, potassium, etc.).

Generally, mucus is not an alarm signal. They are a mere indication that our immune system is working.

It has several important functions: 

  • Mucus is our ally. Its mission is to act as a defensive barrier for our bodies.
  • Thanks to its sticky consistency, it traps strange elements (viruses, bacteria and particles) that get into the nose and helps them get out.
  • Mucus keeps the mucous membranes moist.

The adult population produces an average of 1 liter of mucus a day, which is usually expelled by blowing our noses and sneezing. As our nasal cavities are connected with the throat, mucus is also blended with saliva and swallowed, being destroyed in our stomach. Another part is not expelled and is retained in the nose, where it is dried.

To face an external attack (bacteria, virus or other infectious agents, some medicines or diseases), our body reacts by producing more mucus in order to protect itself. When mucus production increases, it causes nasal congestion and sometimes a sore throat. In addition, the increased viscosity of mucus makes it harder for our body to eliminate it and it tries to do so with coughing and expectoration.

Mucus itself is not damaging if we keep our airways clear. However, we have to be careful if they are simultaneous with other symptoms: difficulty breathing, fever, or if mucus lasts more than 10 days without any sign of improvement.


  • KEEP YOURSELF HYDRATED The abundant liquid intake (water and natural juices) keeps the respiratory mucous hydrated, protects it against infections, and helps to dissolve mucus. Infusions made of medicinal plants with chest action, such as thyme, marjoram, poppy and mallow, are a good way to provide these liquids. If they are sweetened with honey, we also add the balsamic, soothing and antitussive effects of this product.
  • CONTROL THE HUMIDITY OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT Excessive heating dries up the environment and, consequently, respiratory mucous. This is why it is important to place a container with water in our bedroom to maintain suitable humidity. We can also add plants with respiratory balsamic antiseptic action, such as eucalyptus or thyme.
  • A HEALTHY AND WELL-BALANCED DIET, rich in vitamins and minerals, is truly important in the maintenance of the respiratory and immune systems in good conditions. 
  • AVOID ABRUPT TEMPERATURE CHANGES, as well as places with scarce air circulation, dust, etc.
  • DO NASAL IRRIGATIONS Bend your body to the front and your head slightly to one side. Breathe slowly with your mouth and pour physiological saline solution or sea water in one nasal cavity, so that the saline solution can get out of the other one. Repeat this process for the other side. After that, blow your nose soothingly.


For respiratory system disorders, you can use multiple medicinal plants and natural aids that stand out for their antitussive, expectorant, antiseptic and bronchodilator actions. Among those that help in cases of mucous, you can find:

  • Mullein (Verbascum thapsus L.): The chest virtues of this plant were already known in ancient Greece by Hippocrates and Dioscorides. It contains mucilages, which provide it with an emollient action (it softens the tissues), saponins that enhance expectoration, and flavonoids that give it an anti-inflammatory effect. 
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris L): This aromatic plant contains essential oil, which is responsible for the majority of its effects: relaxing on the airway musculature, respiratory antiseptic and cough calming. 
  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus L.): It is one of the most effective plants known to treat respiratory disorders. It has respiratory antiseptic, balsamic and expectorant properties, facilitating the ejection of mucus and soothing coughs.
  • Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata): Due to its outstanding emollient and soothing action, it has a calming effect on the respiratory mucous, relieving throat inflammation. It also has anti-allergic action.
  • Propolis: This substance, made by bees, has multiple preventive and therapeutic properties. It is an antibiotic, antiviral, antiseptic, healing, anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant, slightly analgesic, antioxidant and revitalizing.
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