Are you experiencing some kind of blockage in your throat or nasal passages that makes it hard to breathe? Are you suffering through ongoing coughing bouts and going through boxes of tissues blowing your nose?

Well, you can wait it out, or you could use some home remedies to get rid of phlegm and mucus in the chest and throat.


Phlegm is the thick, viscous substance secreted by the mucous membrane of your respiratory tract in an attempt to fight an infection, especially when suffering from a severe cold.

It tends to collect in your throat and chest to cause congestion and is usually expelled through coughing.

get rid of phlegm

Excess phlegm is a common symptom associated with a cold, flu, sinusitis or some other viral or bacterial infection. It can also be caused by an allergic reaction to irritants as in hay fever, asthma or damaged vocal cords. It is often accompanied by a runny nose, constant cough, fever and weakness, and difficulty in breathing.


While phlegm is not a serious health concern, if not treated timely it can clog the bronchial tubes, thus causing a secondary upper respiratory infection.

Natural Ways to Treat Phlegm and Mucus

Dealing with phlegm is extremely frustrating and annoying, as it seems to be never-ending. However, there are excellent natural herbs and remedies to get rid of phlegm and mucus in the chest and throat instantly.

Method 1: Use Ginger

A natural decongestant and antihistamine, ginger also has antiviral, antibacterial and expectorant properties that help ease congestion in the chest and throat by drying out excessive mucus and stimulating removal of the buildup. (1)(2)

You can drink ginger tea a few times a day. Alternatively, you can chew on 3 or 4 raw ginger slices several times a day.

Things you’ll need:

ginger to treat phlegm

  • Ginger (natural decongestant) – 6 or 7 pieces
  • Black peppercorns (helps fight infection) – 1 teaspoon
  • Honey (contains antiseptic properties) – 1 tablespoon
  • Water – 2 cups

Step 1. Heat water in a pan

heat water in a pan

  • Pour 2 cups of water into a pan.
  • Turn on the heat.

Step 2. Throw in ginger chunks and peppercorns

throw in ginger and peppercorns

  • After the water starts to simmer, throw 6 or 7 ginger chunks into the water.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns as well. (3)

Step 3. Cover, boil and simmer

cover, boil and simmer

  • Cover the pan with the lid.
  • Allow the water to boil for 1 minute.
  • Lower the temperature and allow it to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. You will observe the color of the water changing to pale yellow.

For a stronger flavor, simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or more, and use more ginger slices.


Step 4. Strain the tea

strain the ginger tea

  • Strain the tea into a cup to remove the ginger pieces and peppercorns.

Be careful while straining, as the steam can be extremely hot and can burn you.

Step 5. Add sweetener

add honey to ginger tea

  • Finally, add in 1 tablespoon of honey. (4)

Step 6. Mix and sip the tea

ginger tea for phlegm

  • Drink your tea in small sips while it is still hot to ease your congestion instantly.

Consume 2 to 3 ginger infusions each day until it de-congests your phlegm.

Method 2: Use Turmeric

Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has antiseptic and healing properties. It helps reduce phlegm by killing the bacteria that cause excessive mucus production. (5)(6)


Things you’ll need:

turmeric for phlegm

  • Turmeric (kills the bacteria causing phlegm) – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt (contains antibacterial properties) – ¼ teaspoon
  • Warm water (soothes irritated throat) – 1 glass (8 to 10 ounces)

Step 1. Add turmeric and salt to water

add turmeric and salt to water

  • Add 1 tablespoon of turmeric to a glass of warm water.
  • Add a pinch of salt (approximately ¼ teaspoon) to the solution.

Step 2. Mix it well and gargle with the solution

turmeric drink for phlegm

  • Mix the ingredients well.
  • Gargle with a small amount of the solution to get quick relief.

Repeat 3 or 4 times a day to loosen mucus and reduce phlegm in your throat.

Method 3: Use a Salt Water Gargle

Gargling with salt water is one of the most effective ways to get rid of phlegm. (7)(8)

While warm water soothes your throat, salt contains antibacterial properties that fight the bacteria that cause the infection.

The salt and water combination decreases production of mucus and accumulation of phlegm.

Step 1. Mix salt in water

add salt to water

  • Add ½ teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water.

Step 2. Stir well and gargle with the salt water

gragle with salt water to treat phlegm

  • Stir well, so the salt dissolves in the water.
  • Gargle with the solution to loosen your phlegm fast.

Do this 3 or 4 times every day until you get rid of phlegm from your system.

Method 4: Use Steam

Steaming is another effective treatment to loosen up mucus and phlegm in your throat. (9)

Breathing in steam allows the vapors to travel down your throat and loosen up clogged mucus, thus providing instant relief. Infusing the water with herbs adds additional healing effects. (10)


Things you’ll need:

steam for phlegm

  • Water (boiling) (helps loosen clogged mucus) – 4 to 5 cups
  • Rosemary (contains antiseptic properties) – ½ teaspoon
  • Thyme (helps reduce excess mucus) – ½ teaspoon

Step 1. Add herbs to boiling water

add herbs to boiling water to get rid of phlegm

  • Pour 4 to 5 cups of hot water into a bowl. Make sure the water is boiling.
  • Add ½ teaspoon each of dried rosemary and thyme.

Step 2. Inhale the steam

inhale the steam to get rid of phlegm

  • Drape a towel over your head to trap as much steam as possible.
  • Lean over the bowl of hot water so that the steam directly hits your face.
  • Breathe in the vapors for up to 10 minutes to get instant result.

Repeat 3 or 4 times a day to expel mucus from your throat.

Alternatively, a steamy shower 2 times a day will also provide relief from phlegm.

Method 5: Use Honey and Lemon

Honey is loaded with antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties that soothe your irritated respiratory tract to provide instant relief. (4) (11)

Lemon, which has abundant vitamin C, is highly effective in strengthening your immunity and clearing away congestion.

Things you’ll need:

honey and lemon for phlegm

  • Lemon juice (strengthens your immunity) – 2 tablespoons
  • Honey (contains antibacterial and antiviral properties) – 1 tablespoon

Step 1. Blend honey and lemon juice

mix honey and lemon juice

  • Put 1 tablespoon of honey in a bowl.
  • Add double the amount (2 tablespoons) of lemon juice to the honey.

Step 2. Stir and drink the concoction

drink honey lemon juice to treat phlegm

  • Stir well to mix the ingredients.
  • Drink the solution to get instant relief from the congestion.

Repeat 3 times each day until it cures your phlegm.

Method 6: Use Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

A solution to almost all your troubles, apple cider vinegar, brings your body to an alkaline state and balances the pH levels that prevent excess production of mucus in the body. (12)

Step 1. Add apple cider vinegar to water

use apple cider vinegar to treat phlegm

  • Add 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and mix well.

Step 2. Drink the apple cider vinegar tonic

acv to treat phlegm

  • Drink the concoction 2 or 3 times a day until the excess mucus clears away.

Also, you can gargle with the solution to soothe a sore throat.

Tips to keep in mind

  • Use a humidifier to help control the production of mucus.
  • Blow your nose regularly to expel the phlegm.
  • Eat spicy foods like garlic and peppers to thin the mucus and break up the congestion.
  • Do not expose yourself to paint fumes, hazardous chemicals, and household cleaners as they may irritate your throat and nose.
  • Avoid smoking, as it irritates the respiratory system and leads to congestion.
  • Do not swallow the mucus or phlegm in your throat. Instead, gargle and spit it out to speed up the healing process.
  • Avoid consumption of cold foods and drinks.


  1. Townsend EA, Siviski ME, Zhang Y. Effects of Ginger and Its Constituents on Airway Smooth Muscle Relaxation and Calcium Regulation. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. Published February 2013.
  2. Bode AM. The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. Taylor & Francis. Published 2011.
  3. Joshi DR, Shrestha AC, Adhikari N. A REVIEW ON DIVERSIFIED USE OF THE KING OF SPICES: PIPER ... International Journal Of Pharmaceutical Sciences And Research. Published 2017.
  4. Goldman RD. Honey for treatment of cough in children. Canadian Family Physician. Published December 2014.
  5. Abidi A, Gupta S, Agarwal M. Evaluation of Efficacy of Curcumin as an Add-on Therapy in Patients of Bronchial Asthma. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research: JCDR. Published August 20, 2014.
  6. Prasad S. Turmeric, the Golden Spice. Taylor & Francis. Published 2011.
  7. Lin CTS, Raman R. Comparison of the Efficacy Between Oral Rinse, Oral Gargle, and Oral Spray. Journal of Primary Care & Community Health. Published November 3, 2011.
  8. K S, T K, T K. Prevention of upper respiratory tract infections by gargling: a randomized trial. American journal of preventive medicine. Published November 2005.
  9. Nanda MS. Efficacy of Steam Inhalation with Inhalant Capsules in Patients with Common Cold in a Rural Set Up. IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences. Published February 2015.
  10. Kamble M, Londhe S, Rapelli P, Thakur P, Ray S. A comparative study to assess the effect of steam inhalation v/s Tulsi leaves inhalation on the sign and symptoms of cold and cough among the adult group in selected areas of Pune city. International Journal of Medicine Research. Published March 1, 2017.
  11. Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. Published November 3, 2017.
  12. What Does Apple Cider Vinegar NOT Do? Pacific College. Published December 18, 2017.

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