I have already discussed about benefits of turmeric for respiratory disorders in some of my other articles. In this one I will discuss bronchitis. Incidences of bronchitis are on a rise across the world because of smoking and increased pollution. Let’s first understand what bronchitis is actually.
Bronchitis is a respiratory illness which occurs when the air passages of the lungs get inflamed. Acute bronchitis is a viral infection that starts with a cold and spreads to the sinuses and airways. It usually lasts for a few days with a cough that may continue for longer periods. Chronic bronchitis is a persistent wet cough that occurs in those who smoke. Other symptoms include difficulty breathing, sore throat, mucus buildup, fever, tightness of back and chest and fatigue.
Apart from viruses, bronchitis can also be caused by bacterial infections, pollution, cigarette smoke or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Chronic bronchitis can be prevented by stopping smoking and avoiding air pollutants. According to stats more than 15% smokers in western countries suffer from chronic bronchitis and around 6% non-smokers.
To prevent acute bronchitis take similar steps as you would when avoiding all infections – wash hands, get a flu shot, avoid infected people, cover nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Medicines, bronchodilators, steam inhalation, nutritional supplements, aromatherapy, homeopathy, herbal and alternative therapies are some ways to treat bronchitis depending on the severity.
Turmeric For Bronchitis
Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for many centuries. Recently, the western world is realizing its many medicinal properties and research is being funded to investigate the benefits of curcumin, the chemical in turmeric, in treating cancer, Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis, bronchitis, to heal wounds, and so on.
Turmeric helps in bronchitis because it especially helps in treating infections or diseases of the respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems. It has alternative, carminative effects and also anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Since bronchitis causes inflammation of the lungs, the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin could also provide added benefits. Experimental models found that turmeric’s volatile oil fraction has similar anti-inflammatory benefits as potent phenylbutazone and hydrocortisone drugs. Since it does not cause any side effects like these drugs, it is a safer alternative for long term usage.
In Ayurveda Turmeric is widely used as a cure for respiratory illnesses. In fact it is called ‘Kaphahara’ where ‘Kapha’ refers to phlegmatic conditions and any cure for it is called ‘Kaphahara’. This is because turmeric contains anti-purulent (purulent is accumulation of pus that causes inflammation) and anti-inflammatory properties that are useful in treating bronchitis. A turmeric volatile oil is available as an oral drug and has been found very effective in treating bronchial asthma and cough. Turmeric can treat coughs of various etiologies like whooping cough or dyspnea.
Clinical trials conducted on turmeric root find that it offers an important adjuvant role in improving blocked airways in those with bronchitis, tropical eosinophilia, bronchial asthma and bronchiectasis. A guinea pig model was used to test the anti-asthmatic properties of turmeric.
How to use turmeric for bronchitis
There are many ways prescribed in Ayurveda to use turmeric for bronchitis. One is you may gargle with turmeric and hot water or drink warm milk with ½ tsp turmeric thrice a day to ease symptoms. This is one of the best home remedies for bronchitis. Drink the turmeric milk first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to enjoy the best effects for bronchitis.
Inhaling fumes of hot water with turmeric gives instant relief for coryza and catarrh (symptoms of cold) and clears mucus in the airways in bronchitis.
Turmeric supplements are available as capsules with the powder extract, tincture or fluid extract. It is often combined with bromelain to improve its absorption levels and anti-inflammatory benefits. The dosage for adults depends on the medical condition and the type of turmeric supplement being consumed. For the standardized curcumin powder, the dose is 400-600mg thrice a day; cut root – 1.5-3g daily, 1:1 fluid extract is 30-90 drops daily and 1:2 tincture 15-30 drops four times daily.
When taking herbal supplements, it is always good to know the potential side effects they can cause. Turmeric used as a spice in food is considered safe. Excess turmeric supplements can cause nausea, indigestion, diarrhea or dizziness. Since turmeric could stimulate the uterus or cause a menstrual period, pregnant women are advised against using it. Since there is no sufficient data on its effects on a newborn baby, breastfeeding women should also avoid turmeric supplements. Apart from this, those with gastroesophageal reflux disease, gallbladder problems, diabetes or scheduled for surgery are advised to avoid turmeric supplements.