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Home Remedies for Breathing Problems

By Jean Bardot ; Updated August 14, 2017

More than 200 viruses can attack the upper respiratory tract and cause problems with breathing, according to Penn State's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine. In addition, there are many other causes for difficulties with breathing, ranging from allergies to asthma. Home remedies may be helpful in controlling symptoms and speeding recovery; however, a health practitioner should be consulted before using home remedies.


Alcanfor, or camphor oil, may be useful in relieving breathing problems, say the experts at Columbia University Department of Pediatrics at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian in their "Quick Guide to Home Remedies." The oil should be applied topically to the chest neck, face and forehead for purposes of inhalation. In the case of infants, a crystal of Alcanfor can be tied onto the wrist to keep it in place. Camphor oil has a very strong odor and may be helpful in relieving congestion of the sinuses and chest in cases of flu, colds and other upper respiratory tract ailments. Alcanfor may cause skin irritation, eczema and serious side effects in children younger than 2 years old. It should not be used near the nose or for inhalation in these younger children. Do not use camphor oil if you are using homeopathic remedies, as it renders them ineffective. A health practitioner should be consulted for specific indications and directions for use.

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup has been used for hundreds of years and is believed by some to have almost-magical powers of healing. Although there is no scientific evidence indicating that chicken soup is the panacea for all that ails, parents have offered it to children to help to soothe a cold and relieve congestion, according to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine. The warmth of the soup and the steam rising from the bowl may be the agents that help to loosen tightness in the chest and relieve stuffiness in the sinuses, allowing them to run freely.

Over-the-Counter Cold and Flu Remedies

Using over-the-counter medicinal cold and flu remedies may relieve symptoms and temporarily reduce breathing problems. Anti-histamines, in particular, may dry up and shrink congested nasal and sinus tissues, allowing for easier breathing. These remedies should be used judiciously, and a health practitioner should be consulted regarding quantities administered and duration of treatment.

Homeopathic Arsenicum Album

The homeopathic remedy known as Arsenicum may be helpful in cases where breathing is difficult, as in asthma and other upper respiratory conditions, according to the University of Michigan Health System. The individual needing Arsenicum may experience problems breathing, with the onset occurring after midnight. The breathing is often worse when lying down and the person may be very restless but feel exhausted. There is tremendous anxiety and fear associated with these breathing difficulties, especially during an asthma attack. The remedy may be helpful if there is dry wheezing, and a productive cough bringing up white, frothy fluid. The person may be thirsty for cold drinks and feel chilly. Arsenicum is available over-the-counter at health food stores and online homeopathic pharmacies. If the remedy does not help the symptoms, it may indicate the need for another remedy. A homeopath should be consulted for additional directions and dosing suggestions.

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