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Bronchitis refers to the inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the bronchial tubes within the lungs. Bronchitis may be acute or chronic. In chronic cases, the disease is of long duration and more serious.
Due to inflammation in the bronchi, large quantities of mucus are secreted and expelIed as phlegm. This phlegm is sticky, semi -fluid and may even be purulent The patient suffers from fever, experiences some difficulty in breathing, and has a cough. Other symptoms are hoarseness, pain in chest and loss of appetite.
An important cause of bronchitis is smoking. Excessive smoking irritates the bronchial tubes and lowers their resistance, so that they become vulnerable to germs breathed in from the atmosphere. Other causes are living or working in a stuffy atmosphere, use of drugs to suppress earlier diseases, and hereditary factors. Changes in weather and environment hasten the onset of the disease.
One of the most effective home remedies for bronchitis is the use of turmeric powder. Half a teaspoon of this powder should be administered with half a glass of milk, two or three times daily. It acts best when taken on an empty stomach.
Another effective remedy for bronchitis is a mixture comprising of half a teaspoon each of the powder of ginger, pepper, and cloves, three times a day. It may be licked with honey or taken as an infusion with tea. The mixture of these three ingredients has also antipyretic qualities and is effective in reducing fever accompanying bronchitis. It also tones up the metabolism of the patient.
Onions have been used as a remedy for bronchitis for centuries. They are said to possess expectorant properties. They liquefy phlegm and prevent its further formation. One teaspoon of raw onion juice, first thing in the morning, is very beneficial in such cases.
Fifty grams of fresh leaves of spinach, and 250 ml of water should be mixed with a pinch of ammonium chloride and one teaspoonful of honey. This infusion is an effective expectorant in the treatment of bronchitis.
An infusion of one teaspoon of sesame seeds, mixed with a teaspoon of linseed, a pinch of common salt, and a teaspoon of honey, can be given once at night with beneficial results in bronchitis. Half a teaspoon of dry seeds pounded into powder should be given, mixed with two tablespoons of water, twice daily. Alternately, a decoction of half a teaspoon of the same should be taken twice daily.
An emulsion of almonds is useful in bronchial diseases, including bronchitis. It is prepared by making a powder of seven kernels of almonds and mixing the powdered kernels in a cup of orange or lemon juice. This emulsion may be taken once daily at night.
Chicory or endive is another effective home remedy for bronchitis. The powder of the dry root of this herb should be given in doses of half a teaspoon mixed with one teaspoonful of honey thrice daily. It is a very useful expectorant in chronic bronchitis.
A hot poultice of linseed (alsi) should be applied over the front and back of the chest. This poultice may be prepared by mixing one cup or sixteen tablespoons of the seeds with a quantity of hot water, sufficient to convert them into a moist mealy mass. This should then be applied carefully. Turpentine may also be rubbed over the chest.
In acute bronchitis, the patient should fast on orange juice and water till the acute symptoms subside. Thereafter, he should adopt an all-fruit diet for two or three days.
In the case of chronic bronchitis, the patient can begin with an all-fruit diet for five to seven days, taking three meals a day of fresh juicy fruits. After the all-fruit diet, he should follow a well ¬balanced diet with emphasis on seeds, nuts, grains, raw vegetables, and fresh fruits. For drinks, unsweetened lemon water, or cold/hot plain water may be taken.
A hot Epsom salts bath every night or every other night is valuable during the acute stages of the attack. This bath is prepared by dissolving 11/2 kg of Epsom salt in 60 litres of water having a temperature of 37.8"C. The patient should remain immersed in the bath for about twenty minutes. In the case of chronic bronchitis, this bath may be taken twice a week.
Hot towels wrung out and applied over the upper chest are helpful in both chronic and acute bronchitis. After applying three hot towels in turn for two or three minutes each, one should always finish off with a cold towel. A cold pack can be applied to the upper chest several times daily in acute conditions. The procedure is to wring out some linen material in cold water, wrap it two or three times round the affected part and cover it with flannel. The pack can remain for about an hour at a time.
Fresh air and outdoor exercise are also essential for the treatment of bronchitis. The patient is advised to take a morning walk every day. He should also perform yogic kriyas (cleansing exercises) such as jalneti and vamandhauti, and yogic asanas (body postures) such as ekpaduttanasana, yogamudra, bhujangasana, shalabhasana, padmasana, and shavasana. Simple pranayamas (breath-holding procedures) like kapalbhati anuloma-viloma, Itjjai, and bhramari will also be beneficial.