Skip to main content
Your Path Towards Health

News & Articles

with health tips and information

Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Three Home Therapies to Treat Respiratory Tract Infections

Winter is upon us and again my office is bustling with folks struggling with viral and bacterial respiratory tract infections. The silver lining to dealing with these illnesses is that they are remarkably responsive to naturopathic cures. Here are three reliable treatments I recommend for the common chest cold.

Usnea barbata is one herb that I would like to mention because you can harvest it right here in the woods of the Rogue Valley. It has virtually no toxicity, so you needn’t be concerned with overdosing. Usnea, or Old Man’s Beard, is a lichen with wonderful antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. A lichen is not really a plant but is a fungus and algae living together as a single organism. Together they produce constituents with unique antibiotic and antifungal properties to protect the lichen from microorganisms. Although these chemicals are not readily released in water, I do make tea out of them when my family has a chest cold. (Boil water, then turn to simmer. Add the Usnea and simmer for 30-45 minutes. At the end add honey, ideally infused with propolis). If available add Echinacea and Osha (Ligusticum) to the tea.

Mustard poultices have been used for centuries to treat chest congestion. This is a very effective home remedy that can be used for both adults and children. Application of a mustard plaster on the chest helps greatly in bringing out phlegm. Mix 1 cup of flour with 1/4 cup mustard powder. Stir in enough water to make a thick paste. If you want to buy mustard powder, please make sure it is organic. Examples of brands include Simply Organic and Badia. You can also grind organic mustard seeds into powder yourself, which would make a stronger and even more effective poultice. Self preparation increases the likelihood of skin irritation, however. Note that this recipe calls for flour to mustard in a 4:1 ratio. If skin irritation arises, lower this ratio to 5:1. Be sure to place a thin layer of olive oil on the chest before you put the paste on to help keep the plaster from “burning” the skin. Once this is done, place the mustard paste on chest and cover with a wet, hot, thin towel. Place a dry towel on top of that. It’s very important to check the plaster from time to time to make sure it isn’t burning the skin. The poultice should remain in place for 20-30 minutes but it can stay there overnight so long as the skin does not become irritated.

Finally, I have mentioned hydrotherapy in previous articles. I cannot overemphasize the versatility of the warming tee shirt therapy as a central tool in healing during respiratory tract infections. This therapy invigorates the self-healing forces in the body. When the body recognizes that the chest is cooler than the head, it works to warm the chest by dilating the blood vessels of the chest. This in turn, both delivers ample nutrients and white blood cells to the chest and carries away dead bacteria for elimination. Give it a try! Place a thin cotton tee shirt in cold water and wring it out very well. Take a hot shower, dry off and put on the wet, cold tee shirt. Over the tee shirt, put on anything that can keep you warm when it is wet. Traditionally wool was used. Today polypropyline are capiline can also be used. The final step: go to bed.

In the age where we have been blinded by the use of antibiotics, we have lost sight of the value of many wonderful therapies that healed people for centuries. In the days when the doctor might have been a two day horse ride away, effective treatments were needed to restore vitality safely and quickly. Give these therapies a try!

Dr. Daniel Smith practices at Bear Creek Naturopathic Clinic. His office is on 2612 Barnett Ave. He specializes in naturopathic oncology, but still maintains a strong family practice, treating all manner of conditions. He can be reached at 541-770-5563 or at If you would like to schedule an appointment, please ask specifically for Dr. Dan.


What a Pain in the Neck! Alternative Options to Treat Nagging Aches

Pain is a difficult sensation to define, but for the purposes of this article, I will describe pain as any unpleasant sensory experience associated with inflammation or tissue damage.

Lab Assessment in Chronic Ilness: A Functional Medicine Approach

This topic is one I hold in high regard as medicine commonly grapples with an inability to provide an actionable diagnosis for the rising number of chronically ill people in the US.

Seasonal Blues Got You Down?

Cold weather, gray skies and less hours of sunlight is a familiar shift in reality for those of us living in more northerly climates of the world.