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Immune System

Herbs That Do Wonders for Lung Health

Herbs That Do Wonders for Lung Health

Written By: Emily Spring

From chest congestion to respiratory irritation, lung and respiratory problems can suck the air out of your day to day life. Strong, healthy lungs are foundational to overall health. Taking longer, deeper breaths helps to oxygenate the cells throughout your body, which enables your organs to function properly. However, our lungs and respiratory system face everyday risks: long-term exposure to environmental pollutants, one-time encounters with airborne pathogens and more.  

Alongside deep breathing and adequate nutrition, your lung health can be supported with herbs. 

What herbs are good for lungs? In this short guide, we’ll go over 5 lung support herbs, along with the best ways to incorporate them into your daily routine. Whether you incorporate these organic ingredients in food or choose to detox your lungs with a supplement for lung health, these lung cleansing herbs are a great start.

#1 Thyme

Thyme isn’t just a culinary herb. It’s long been used across world cultures for its healing abilities, especially as they relate to the lungs.

In his 16th-century medicinal text The English Physitian, Nicholas Culpeper describes Thyme as “a noble strengthener of the lungs, as notable a one as grows.” He goes on to say that it “purgeth the body of phlegm, and is an excellent remedy for the shortness of breath.”

This isn’t just folklore: modern science confirms that thyme is among the most potent lung cleansing herbs. Drawing on this knowledge, some people diffuse thyme essential oil to ward off illness. Others incorporate the herb into their diet.

  • Our lungs are constantly exposed to oxidative stress—the process by which pollutants, (including ozone and smoke, strip healthy cells of oxygen particles, rendering them unstable. In a 2009 study on lung cells, scientists found that thymol, the main chemical component of thyme, displayed antioxidant activity.
  • A more recent 2016 study of human lung cells showed that thyme has clear anti-inflammatory activity. Since pulmonary inflammation is associated with shortness of breath, excess phlegm and other negative health outcomes, anti-inflammatory substances can be key aids in improving lung health through a natural remedy.

The anti-inflammatory compound thymol is most abundant in thyme, but can also be found in closely related plants like oregano, marjoram and coriander. All of these are great additions to your diet, or you can take a supplement containing thyme.

#2 Mullein

While thyme is a common cooking ingredient, mullein is less familiar. This fuzzy, flowering plant grows throughout Europe, North America, Asia and Africa, and it has been used in traditional medicine practices for centuries. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, mullein is said to promote Qi (energy) in the lungs. In other world cultures, the herb is used to treat chronic coughs, shortness of breath, hoarseness and other illnesses with respiratory side effects.

Scientists are currently studying the chemical pathways that may enable this plant’s effects. A 2013 review of current research relays that:

  • Mullein’s leaves are analgesic, and can reduce symptoms of physical discomfort
  • Mullein is also anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral
  • Antioxidant components include vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, zinc and selenium
  • Mullein seed oil also has unique, nourishing fatty acids

Mullein is also a folk remedy for tuberculosis in Ireland, and scientists believe its antibacterial properties may play a role in its history of helping treat patients with this ailment.

Overall, researchers have concluded that these many biochemical activities make mullein a promising health aid.

#3 Astragalus

There are many potential health benefits of Chinese medicinal herb astragalus. The benefits of astragalus include:

  • Boosting the immune system
  • Combating inflammation and viruses
  • Helping with allergies
  • Aiding healthy digestion
  • Reducing stress
  • Promoting energy

It’s no surprise that this powerhouse herb may also have beneficial effects on lung health.

Scientists are presently studying the effects of astragalus injections in patients undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer. A 2011 study suggests that when used as a complementary treatment to chemotherapy and radiation, astragalus can improve patients’ quality of life and their survival rates.

Because of its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects, the herb may also be effective for promoting lung health during cold and flu season.

#4 Platycodon

Platycodon has a scientific-sounding name, but this flowering purple herbaceous perennial plant is also sometimes known as the “balloon flower,” and its bright blooms make it popular in landscaping. 

Platycodon isn’t just a pretty adornment for your garden—it’s also a potential health aid. 

In TCM, the dried root of the Platycodon plant is thought to help with:

  • Opening the lungs
  • Promoting the flow of lung qi
  • Helping to expel phlegm 

A 2020 review of the plant’s chemical and biological properties explains why platycodon may have a beneficial effect on lung health.

  • Platycodon can help the body form mucous lubrication for the lungs, which may explain its strong antitussive, or (anti-coughing, effects, as well as the plant’s traditional use for relieving asthma symptoms 
  • Rich in phenols and other antioxidant compounds, the plant demonstrates strong antioxidant activity, especially in the lung tissues
  • Platycodon also demonstrates antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity

These properties suggest that platycodon may be an ally for people with ongoing respiratory symptoms, as well as those seeking to strengthen their lung health.

#5 Licorice Root

Have you ever used Throat Coat tea to improve your symptoms when you have a cough or sore throat? 

You can thank licorice root for the beneficial effects you enjoyed.

Licorice root has long been a traditional remedy for colds, coughs and ongoing respiratory issues. Now, we better understand the reasons why this herb may benefit lung health.

  • A 2011 study investigated the impact of glycyrrhizin, one of licorice root’s active components, on asthma. The compound seemed to help thicken lung membranes, making them more resilient to irritation and inflammation.
  • Antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help protect sensitive tissue from infection and irritation.

There’s no wonder why licorice is such a popular ingredient in teas, candies and more.

However, don’t try doubling up on licorice-flavored foods to improve your health. Overconsumption of licorice can actually lead to low potassium and even muscle weakness. Try to avoid consuming more than 1g of licorice per day.

How to Use Beneficial Herbs for Lung Health

As you can see, plants from common cooking herbs to the flowers in your garden may help you strengthen your lungs, avoid illness or treat respiratory symptoms that do arise.

What’s the best way to incorporate these herbs for lungs strengthening into your routine?

You can easily find thyme at the grocery store or licorice in a teabag. However, you may not be sure if the ingredients are grown organically, without pesticides or herbicides that could negatively impact lung health. Beyond that, you may not be sure about proper dosage—especially when it comes to less commonly seen herbs. The benefits of these medicinal herbs are best experienced with consistent use in appropriate dosage—not with a one-time recipe.

An Easy-to-take Everyday Supplement 

That’s why we’ve formulated the Advanced Lung Guard herbal multiplex: to take the guesswork out of lung health. 

Plant People’s Lung Guard contains the following herbal ingredients:

  • Astragalus
  • Mullein
  • Thyme
  • Licorice Root
  • Platycodon

Along with these medicinal herbs, Lung Guard capsules also contain reishi mushrooms to support your lung immunity. Traditionally called “the mushroom of immortality,” these medicinal mushrooms are used in TCM to boost immunity and improve overall health and wellness.

Advanced Lung Guard makes it easier than ever to integrate these healing ingredients into your daily routine. Features include:

  • Vegan capsules – It’s easy to travel with this supplement, and to take it when you’re on-the-go. 
  • Organic ingredients – Herbs and mushrooms are grown in the U.S. without chemical pesticides, and capsules are formulated without additives. You’ll never have to worry about irritating or harmful substances in your supplement.
  • 100mg+ per ingredient  – Take in a combined 1000mg of lung-beneficial ingredients in every two capsules.

For best results, take two capsules daily to experience cumulative effects over time. It’s also easy to double up on your dosage if illness does strike (without risking too high a concentration of any ingredient). 

Breathe Easier with Plant People

At Plant People, we’re plant and fungi experts dedicated to combining the best of traditional herbal remedies with modern scientific knowledge. From CBD and botanical blends designed to support specific health goals to our new Advanced Immune Power and Lung Guard herbal multiplex capsules, all our products feature organic ingredients farmed in the U.S.

Get the help you need to breathe easier with Lung Guard, and enjoy the sense of calm that comes with the knowledge that you’re protecting your respiratory health. 


Written by Emily Spring 

Emily Spring is the Director of Marketing at Plant People. A longtime proponent of balanced living, she has enjoyed over 8 years driving growth in the lifestyle, health and wellness sectors with deep experience in functional solutions for optimizing anyone's everyday life.

Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy

 Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.

 Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.



Culpeper’s Complete Herbal. Common Garden Thyme.

Food and Chemical Toxology. Antioxidant activities of major thyme ingredients and lack of (oxidative) DNA damage in V79 Chinese hamster lung fibroblast cells at low levels of carvacrol and thymol.

Chemico-Biological Interactions. Evaluations of thyme extract effects in human normal bronchial and tracheal epithelial cell lines and in human lung cancer cell lines.

White Rabbit Institute. Mullein.

Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia. Common mullein, pharmacological and chemical aspects.

Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. What's in a Name? Can Mullein Weed Beat TB Where Modern Drugs Are Failing?

Medical Oncology. Astragalus polysaccharide injection integrated with vinorelbine and cisplatin for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer: effects on quality of life and survival.

Me and Qi. Platycodon roots.

Foods. The Pharmacological Effects and Health Benefits of Platycodon grandiflorus—A Medicine Food Homology Species.

Current Therapeutic Research, Clinical and Experimental. Glycyrrhizin and Long-Term Histopathologic Changes in a Murine Model of Asthma.

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