While mucus is necessary to protect the airways of the respiratory system from environmental irritants, should the mucous membranes become inflamed production can become excessive, this excessive mucus being termed catarrh. Production of catarrh can be related to diet or to congestion in the respiratory system, frequently after a cold. It can also signify general congestion and overload in the body, perhaps due to digestive weakness. Chronic catarrh and sinus congestion may well have an allergic component and if so this will need to be specifically addressed – see the section on Respiratory Allergies. Supplements to consider include a course of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements such as Multi-Guard or Floradix as well as additional Zinc and Vitamin C, while Garlic Capsules are strongly recommended for situations when it is difficult to include this in the diet. Simple dietary measures can make a considerable difference. The diet should predominate in fresh fruit and vegetables: eat something raw before each meal as this tones the mucous membranes and boosts the body’s powers of elimination. Onions, and raw garlic, a clove a day, should also be eaten. As far as possible avoid all dairy products, sugar and refined carbohydrates, as these are mucus forming. Coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa and cola drinks should also be avoided, as should all junk food. In chronic cases of catarrh it is vital to stop smoking. Smoking seriously hampers attempts to clear catarrh partly because the smoke itself is an irritant, but also because it disables the body’s own mucus-clearing system therefore leading to congestion. See also our section on Digestion for tips on promoting good digestive function as this is vital in any effort to reduce catarrh.
Please speak to your herbalist about specific herbal approaches to catarrh.