Integrative Self Care for Acute Bronchitis

by Jade Shutes

Bronchitis is either an acute or a chronic inflammation of the mucus lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. This inflammation can be caused by viral or bacterial infection, smoking or inhalation of chemical pollutants or dust. Bacteria typically implicated in acute bronchitis includes Streptococcus pneumoniae and Hemophilus influenzae.

Acute bronchitis is very common and often follows a cold or other respiratory infection in a healthy person.  Acute bacterial bronchitis usually lasts about a week and is accompanied by a cough that produces thick green or yellow mucus. Other symptoms include: fatigue, slight fever and chills, and chest discomfort. In the early stage, the cough is very dry, but as the lungs produce more mucus in response to the infection, the cough becomes easier and less painful as the mucus lubricates the bronchi.  The cough can linger for several weeks after the bronchitis has been resolved.

The individual may have a slight fever which does not last very long. If the fever is present for several days this could suggest the development of a pneumonia complication.

NOTE: Chronic bronchitis is a long-term condition (without fever) characterized by a permanent productive cough that lasts at least three months for two consecutive years. If you have chronic bronchitis, you’re likely to have periods when your signs and symptoms worsen. At those times, you may have acute bronchitis on top of your chronic bronchitis. In some cases, the cough may disappear only to reappear later. (Mayo clinic)

General Treatment:

  • Bed rest
  • Drink plenty of fluid, including herbal teas, water, and vegetable or chicken stock
  • Stay warm
  • Allow for mucus to be released from body instead of suppressing it (blow your nose, spit up mucus from lungs)

My Personal Experience

It has been about 3 or 4 days now that I have been experiencing the onset of bronchitis following a cold. This is a yearly thing for me and so it was to be expected.  Each year I have dealt with it a bit differently so here is this years effort to curtail a lengthy bout with bronchitis.

My symptoms: nasal/sinus mucus congestion, general fatigue, a feeling of dryness in lungs with some mucus expectorating from lungs

Day One:

Drank copious amounts of Ginger/Honey/freshly squeezed lemon juice tea and Fennel/Licorice tea and cough syrup throughout the day. Felt okay but knew something was happening.

Day Two:

Awoke with some congestion and generally not well but not without energy. Drank a couple of cups of Ginger/Lemon/Honey tea and was out for a day at the Museum of Life and Science with my family. As the day wore on I began feeling more worn out, tired, more congested, and a few chills indicative of a slight fever.  Arrived home to make ginger/lemon/honey tea, had some boneset tincture (made this past summer), had a hot sea salt bath (about 4 or 5 cups of sea salt) and went to bed around 7pm. Placed some cardamom essential oil in the humidifier before falling asleep.

Day Three:

Awoke with lots more congestion but felt more energy after a good nights rest (or was it the boneset?). Had a bit of a dry cough and my lungs hurt a bit.  Spent the day making Elderberry syrup, taking a few tablespoons of elderberry syrup, and drinking fennel/ginger/lemon/honey tea.  Also prepared some Immune Enhancing Chicken Soup and continued sipping our fennel/licorice cough syrup.


Chicken Soup with stock from bone/meat, shitake mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, celery, leeks, a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

More boneset tincture before heading off to bed. Put cardamom essential oil in the humidifier and fell asleep around 8:30pm.

Day Four:

Awoke thoroughly congested. Lots of mucus discharge from the nose. A steady dry yet somewhat productive cough with occasional yellow/slightly green mucus being released. Did a skin brushing, which is always fun. Applied warm sesame oil to my whole body then laid down for about 15 minutes. Massaged a bit of cardamom essential oil over the sesame oil and then took a hot shower. Lots of relief for the congestion.  Still dry slightly mucusy cough. Drank fresh ginger/lemon/honey tea, took 5000 milligrams of Vitamin C.

Then had a bunch of errands to run.  Came back home with growing congestion. I felt a bit irritable and tired. Started a heavenly fire in our fire place and rested for a short while. Then decided to make some suppositories to treat the arriving infection and prevent it from getting worse.  Took some Thymus vulgaris tincture I made this past summer and settled in to rectal suppository making.

What are suppositories?

Suppositories are commonly made from a combination of cocoa butter and another semifluid oil such as coconut or vegetable oil such as sesame oil.  Suppositories are typically indicated for vaginal infections and inflammation, cervical dysplasia, rectal fissures, and hemorrhoids. (Romm) I have used aromatic suppositories for the treatment of both hemorrhoids and a rectal fissure with great success.

The term suppository is derived from the Latin suppositorum, which means, “something placed beneath”. Pesssary is an interchangeable term, referring specifically to a vaginal suppository.

One can make herbal or aromatic suppositories to address the conditions listed above.

According to Schnaubelt (2011), French-style aromatherapy has found (rectal) suppositories to be hugely effective in the treatment of serious acute and chronic bronchitis. Essential oils delivered via (rectal) suppositories go directly to the lung tissues, specifically the lower bronchial capillaries. They are fed directly into the heart-lung circulatory system without first being subjected to biotransformation by the liver detoxification enzyme system. Consequently, they reach the lower bronchial capillaries in their original lipophilic and volatile state, still capable of eliminating pathogenic microorganisms and dissolving and expectorating mucus.

When are they indicated?

As stated above, suppositories are indicated for vaginal infections and inflammation, cervical dysplasia, rectal fissures, and hemorrhoids and for acute or chronic bronchitis.  For vaginal infections and inflammation and cervical dysplasia use vaginal suppositories. For rectal fissures, hemorrhoids, and bronchitis or respiratory infections use rectal suppositories.

How to make:

The ingredients you will need include:

  • 20 gms of Organic cocoa butter (about 1/4 cup)
  • 10mls Organic sesame oil OR coconut oil (about 1 tablespoon)


Prior to making the suppositories I cleaned/sterilized all pots, the measuring cup, bowl to weigh cocoa butter, and wooden spoon I would use to make suppository mold with. And of course, I washed my hands.

Steps to make suppositories:

Step One

First thing to do is make your suppository molds. You can do this by wrapping aluminum foil around the handle of a ‘thin’ wooden spoon handle. Wrap about 4 or 5 times around then cut and press to make sure it holds together.  Remove foil from spoon handle and fold one end up a couple of times. Place mold in cup so it stands up. I ended up needing two molds.


Making a suppository mold with aluminum foil


Completing the mold: I cut the extra off.


Close off one end of mold by folding over twice

Step Two:

Prepare your essential oils synergy so its ready once you melt the cocoa butter with the sesame.

I made a synergy based upon my symptoms and knowledge that included the following:

  • 10 drops Rosmarinus officinalis ct. verbenon
  • 15 drops Origanum compactum
  • 10 drops Thymus vulgaris ct. geraniol
  • 10 drops Santalum album
  • 15 drops Myrtus communis (Green myrtle from OSA) very important to get right species.

Here is my choice of essential oils to include.


You want to have your synergy premade since the cocoa butter and sesame melt so quickly so before adding cocoa butter/sesame to glass measuring cup, prepare your essential oil synergy.

Step Three:

Using a double boiler fill the bottom pan with water to about 1/4- 1/2 full, then put about a cup in the top pan as well.  Place the 20 gms of cocoa butter and 10mls of sesame oil into a glass pyrex measuring cup and place cup into water of top boiler pan.  Cocoa butter melts at body temperature and you want to avoid getting it too hot. So this is a great way to quickly melt it down without too much heat.


Measuring 2 ounces of cocoa butter


Pour cocoa butter into glass measuring cup


Add 10mls of Sesame oil in


Mixing cocoa butter and sesame oil together with chop stick


Stirring as the ingredients are melting


It took a couple of minutes for the cocoa butter and sesame to merge. I took this mixture off the heat and added the essential oil synergy to it.

Step Four:

Remove measuring cup from double boiler and add in the essential oil synergy. Stirring together well.


Adding essential oil synergy to suppository mix

Step Five:

Pour suppository mixture into molds. Fill to just about 1 to 1 1/2 inch from top. You will want to fold it over a bit to close up.


Pouring suppository mixture into mold


Pouring mix into mold

Step Six:

Once the molds have been filled and the top end closed. Place them back into a cup or mug and place in freezer.


Placing molds in freezer to let suppositories harden.

Step Seven:

After the suppositories have hardened, remove them from the freezer and unwrap from the aluminum foil.  I then measured each suppository stick and then cut them to make 10 suppositories.  I had about 12 inches of suppository so each suppository was just slightly over 1 inch.


Unwrapping frozen suppositories

I ended up with 10 suppositories.  My camera needed the battery changed so in the am I took these pictures of the cut suppositories. I am keeping in the freezer and taking one every 2-3 hours.


The cut suppositories. Stored in glass container in freezer until used.

The Suppository Experience

I inserted the first rectal suppository around 8pm last night.  We had a fire going so I just laid down on the couch and watched the fire and worked a bit on my computer.  It was interesting to observe that in less then an hour after taking the first rectal suppositories I felt I could breath much more deeply then I had been able to for the past 2 or 3 days.  Some clearing of the congestion and a bit of release of mucus from the lungs.

Upon awaking the next morning I noticed that the previously green sputum was now clear and that although there was congestion, I could breathe much better and deeper. I have continued to use one suppository every 2-3 hours and will continue to do so for the next day or two. Over all I am quite amazed by the results. Cough is less, breathing deeper, no tightness in the chest. Generally feeling better while also still releasing mucus congestion. Clearly no sign of infection in mucus.

Will update in the next day or two as things progress.  One thing I would add to my next essential oil synergy is German chamomile for its anti-inflammatory properties and to support the sandalwood.

Tonight, more chicken soup, more thyme tincture, an aromatic steam inhalation, perhaps a sea salt bath and a couple more suppositories. All in all based upon my history, I am feeling better, hardly any cough but still mucus releasing. My whole experience since the first suppository last evening has thoroughly convinced me that this is a very important method of application to understand and apply.


Romm, Aviva. (2010). Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. St Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

Schnaubelt, Kurt. (2011). The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Hoffman, David. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.