Mucus is a slippery substance secreted by -- and covering -- the mucus membranes that line your respiratory tract. Glands in your nose, sinuses and throat generate mucus, which is helpful in cleansing and moisturizing your nasal passages. According to MayoClinic.com, excess mucus is also called postnasal drip, which may cause irritation, inflammation and coughing. Nutritional treatments may help reduce your excess mucus, but you should always be judicious when using any natural remedies.
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There are several important dietary considerations when dealing with excessive mucus or phlegm. According to certified nutritional consultant Phyllis A. Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," you should avoid certain foods -- such as dairy products, processed foods, sugar and wheat or white flour products -- that may cause excess mucus production. Foods that contain certain additives may also cause significant mucus production and should be avoided. Examples of these food additives, notes Balch, include FD&C Yellow No. 5 dye, vanillin, monosodium glutamate or MSG, and benzaldehyde. Other foods that you might consider avoiding include bananas, corn, eggs and oysters.
Nutritional supplements that possess the ability to clear mucus from your respiratory tract -- known as expectorants -- may be especially helpful in treating your excess mucus. Some of the most commonly used expectorant nutritional supplements include lungwort, ipecac, elecampane, bloodroot, propolis, horehound and gumweed, notes naturopathic physician Sharol Tilgner, author of "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth." Other beneficial nutritional supplements that may help expel your excessive mucus or treat its underlying cause may include goldenseal, vitamins A and E, bioflavonoids and zinc. Not all nutritional supplements used for this health purpose have been subjected to extensive scientific scrutiny.
An Effective Nutritional Supplement
Elecampane may be one of the most effective nutritional supplements in treating excess mucus. Tilgner reports that elecampane possesses antiseptic and expectorant action, and that this nutritional supplement has traditionally been used in cleansing excess mucus from the respiratory tract. Expert herbalist Ed Smith, author of "Therapeutic Herb Manual," states that the root of the elecampane plant contains many medicinal ingredients that are incorporated into nutritional supplements. Smith recommends taking 30 to 40 drops of the tincture, two to five times per day, for optimal health results. Always discuss proper dosage with your doctor before using nutritional supplements.
A Special Case
Cystic fibrosis is a rare, inherited disease that causes excess mucus accumulation in your lungs and digestive tract. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cystic fibrosis often causes mucus-producing cough and recurrent bouts of pneumonia. If you suffer from cystic fibrosis-related mucus problems, Balch recommends consuming a diet of 75 percent raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Foods that are high in germanium -- including garlic, onions and shiitake mushrooms -- may be particularly helpful in treating cystic fibrosis symptoms, notes Balch.
- "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth"; Sharol Tilgner, N.D.; 1999
- "Therapeutic Herb Manual"; Ed Smith; 2007
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, CNC; 2010
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Cystic Fibrosis