Struggling with chest pain which worsens when you inhale or cough? Pleurisy is a condition in which the membrane which covers your lungs and lines your chest cavity becomes inflamed. In some cases, this inflammation may occur with fluid accumulation in the space between your chest wall and lungs – a condition known as pleural effusion.
Although chest or lung infections like pneumonia or influenza are the most common cause of pleurisy, it can also occur due to various other conditions such as pulmonary embolism, lung cancer, rheumatic fever, and connective tissue disorders such lupus. And depending on the cause, other symptoms may occur along with chest pain.1 2
Treatment for pleurisy depends on its cause. Antibiotics, painkillers, and anti-inflammatory may be used to tackle infection and inflammation which are common to many underlying conditions. If you have pleural effusion and it is causing breathing problems, your doctor may drain the fluid. Meanwhile, a pulmonary embolism may be treated with medicines such as anticoagulants or thrombolytic medications while lung cancer may require chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. While you will need to probe deeper and tackle the causes of pleurisy promptly, many home remedies can also help you deal with the condition.
id="1">1. Lie Down On The Side That Hurts
Do see a doctor if you experience chest pain. As we’ve seen, some conditions that cause pleurisy require medical treatment. Your doctor may examine you and conduct tests to determine how severe your condition is and what is causing it and then advise you on whether home remedies will be sufficient treatment.3
Here’s a simple tip to ease pain due to pleurisy. Though it sounds a bit odd, lying down on the side that’s affected can actually help relieve chest pain if you have pleurisy. This is because this restricts movement of your chest wall.4
2. Have Garlic
Garlic has traditionally been used to treat pleurisy. Organosulfur compounds present in this common condiment give it powerful anti-inflammatory powers and help it support your immune system.5 Moreover, studies show that it can act against bacteria which cause chest infection.6
3. Try Honey
Honey is an ancient treatment for pleurisy that’s even mentioned in the classic Hippocratic Corpus.8 So how does it work? It has been found to reduce inflammatory mediators like TNF-α and COX-2 and thereby exert an anti-inflammatory effect. Research also shows that having honey can decrease the concentration of prostaglandin E2, a lipid mediator which has a role to play in inflammatory pain.9 Honey has potent antimicrobial properties as well and may fight pathogens that can cause lung infections such as pneumonia.10 11
4. Have Pleurisy Root Tea
Pleurisy root or Asclepias tuberosa, as the name suggests, has traditionally been used to tackle the inflammation and pain associated with pleurisy. It is also considered a natural treatment for respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. A pleurisy root tea or tincture is usually recommended 2–3 times a day as a remedy. However, this herbal remedy may cause heart problems in some so speak to your doctor before using it.12 13
5. Drink Turmeric Milk
A spice that’s famous for its potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It also works as an analgesic and may help ease chest pain caused by pleurisy. In fact, like honey, it too can reduce prostaglandin E(2).14
Research also indicates that it can act against bacteria which can lead to lung infection.15 Boil turmeric powder in milk to make yourself a healing cup of turmeric milk or steep turmeric powder in hot water to prepare some turmeric tea. Add a dash of honey to sweeten this drink and increase its healing power.
id="6-try-ginger-tea">6. Try Ginger Tea
Ginger, another common condiment, can help you deal with pleurisy. Studies show that ginger has strong anti-inflammatory effects which can inhibit the release of prostaglandin. Ginger might, therefore, act like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which ease pain and inflammation. And not surprisingly, animal studies show that ginger has an analgesic effect too.
Moreover, research indicates that ginger can also act against pathogens which could attack your respiratory tract and cause chest infections.16 17 Simmer chopped ginger in water for about 10 minutes and strain to prepare your cup of ginger tea.18
id="7-have-tulsi">7. Have Tulsi
Considered sacred in India, tulsi or holy basil has many beneficial effects and may help if you have pleurisy.19 Animal studies show that this medicinal plant has significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. And like some NSAIDs, it is a COX-2 inhibitor.20
Tulsi has also traditionally been used to tackle respiratory infections, with studies showing that it can inhibit pathogens which may cause chest infections. Have fresh tulsi leaves or steep the dried leaf in hot water to make a cup of bracing tulsi tea.21 22
id="8-drink-caraway-tea">8. Drink Caraway Tea
The aromatic caraway seeds have traditionally been considered helpful in tackling pleurisy.23 It contains a compound known as carvone which demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce the biosynthesis of prostaglandins.24
Animal studies also show that caraway works as a natural analgesic, so it might help ease chest pain.25 Steep around 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of dried and powdered caraway seed in hot water to make a cup of soothing caraway tea.26
9. Try Slippery Elm
Herbal healers recommend slippery elm for dealing with pleurisy. It is thought to have a soothing effect on chest infections aside from pleurisy. Though the effectiveness of this herb in treating pleurisy and the mechanism through which it works aren’t yet established, research does show that it can soothe sore throats. So it might at least be helpful if you have pleurisy linked to a respiratory infection. An infusion can be made of this herb by steeping it in hot water.27 28
|↑1, ↑4||Pleurisy And Pleural Effusion. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑5||Schafer, Georgia, and Catherine H Kaschula. “The immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic organosulfur compounds in cancer chemoprevention.” Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry (Formerly Current Medicinal Chemistry-Anti-Cancer Agents) 14, no. 2 (2014): 233-240.|
|↑6||Tsao, Shyh-ming, Cheng-chin Hsu, and Mei-chin Yin. “Garlic extract and two diallyl sulphides inhibit methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection in BALB/cA mice.” Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 52, no. 6 (2003): 974-980.|
|↑7||Baby, Suresh. A Treatise on Home Remedies. Pustak Mahal, 2000.|
|↑8||Werner, A., and O. Laccourreye. “Honey in otorhinolaryngology: when, why and how?.” European annals of otorhinolaryngology, head and neck diseases 128, no. 3 (2011): 133-137.|
|↑9, ↑11||Vallianou, N. G., P. Gounari, A. Skourtis, J. Panagos, and Ch Kazazis. “Honey and its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties.” Gen Med (Los Angel) 2, no. 132 (2014): 1-5.|
|↑10||Can honey fight superbugs like MRSA?.
|↑12, ↑19, ↑28||Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: The Definitive Home Reference Guide to 550 Key Herbs with all their Uses as Remedies for Common Ailments. Dorling Kindersley, 2000.|
|↑13||Pleurisy root .
|↑14||Sahebkar, Amirhossein, and Yves Henrotin. “Analgesic efficacy and safety of curcuminoids in clinical practice: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Pain medicine 17, no. 6 (2015): 1192-1202.|
|↑15||Teow, Sin-Yeang, Kitson Liew, Syed A. Ali, Alan Soo-Beng Khoo, and Suat-Cheng Peh. “Antibacterial action of curcumin against Staphylococcus aureus: a brief review.” Journal of tropical medicine 2016 (2016).|
|↑16||Vendruscolo, A., I. Takaki, L. E. Bersani-Amado, J. A. Dantas, C. A. Bersani-Amado, and R. KN Cuman. “Antiinflammatory and antinociceptive activities of zingiber officinale roscoe essential oil in experimental animal models.” Indian Journal of Pharmacology 38, no. 1 (2006): 58.|
|↑17||Akoachere, JF TK, R. N. Ndip, E. B. Chenwi, L. M. Ndip, T. E. Njock, and D. N. Anong. “Antibacterial effects of Zingiber Officinale and Garcinia Kola on respiratory tract pathogens.” East African medical journal 79, no. 11 (2002): 588-592.|
|↑18||Vukovic, Laurel. Echinacea/Cold Flu Fighters. Basic Health Publications, Inc., 2003.|
|↑20||Umamageswari, A., and B. L. Kudagi. “Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of Ocimum sanctum: a comparative study using animal models.” International Journal of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology 4, no. 5 (2016): 981-986.|
|↑21||Tewari, Devesh, A. N. Sah, H. K. Pandey, and H. S. Meena. “A review on phytoconstituents of Ocimum (Tulsi).” International Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine 3, no. 1 (2012): 1-9.|
|↑22||Vasudevan, D. M., R. Kedlaya, S. Deepa, and M. Ballal. “Activity of Ocimum sanctum (the traditional Indian medicinal plant) against the enteric pathogens.” Indian journal of medical sciences 55, no. 8 (2001): 434-8.|
|↑23||Foster, Steven, and James A. Duke. A field guide to medicinal plants and herbs of eastern and central North America. Vol. 2. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000.|
|↑24||Keshavarz, A., M. Minaiyan, A. Ghannadi, and P. Mahzouni. “Effects of Carum carvi L.(Caraway) extract and essential oil on TNBS-induced colitis in rats.” Research in pharmaceutical sciences 8, no. 1 (2013): 1.|
|↑25||V, Swati, Sathish Kumar V2, Abdul Rahaman SK3, Anjana Male4 and Varalakshmi T..”In-vivo Screening of Analgesic and Antiulcer Activity on Carum carvi Seeds”. International Journal of Drug Development and Research.|
|↑26||Caraway. The University of Michigan.|
|↑27||Slippery Elm. National Institutes of Health.|