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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-05-14 (EDT)

The term bronchitis can refer to both acute or chronic bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is generally due to a viral infection. It is considered a self-limiting condition affecting large and midsized airways, and presents with a cough. Chronic bronchitis is more often associated with an underlying condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and is more serious in nature.[1]


Causes Dietary Factors, Smoking, Stress, Infections, Environmental Toxins
See Also Respiratory Conditions, Pneumonia, Influenza (Flu), Upper Respiratory Infection (Common Cold), Asthma
Books Books on Respiratory Conditions
Articles Articles on Respiratory Conditions

Naturopathic Assessment

Check out this book Asthma and Bronchitis (By Appointment Only)

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. The risk of bronchitis depends on two factors: personal susceptibility and exposure to a pathogen or toxins. The naturopathic assessment looks at both aspects. The stronger a person's vitality the less likely they will be affected by exposure to viruses and environmental toxins. The factors that are associated with increased susceptibility to bronchitis include:


  • Poor nutrition is associated with decreased immune function and an increased risk of infections such as bronchitis.[2]
  • Studies suggest a correlation between cured meat intake and the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as bronchitis.[3]



  • The long-term exposure to inhaled bronchial irritants can lead to the development of chrinic bronchitis,[5] and can increase a person's susceptibility to acute bronchitis.
  • Chronic tobacco or environmental insult exposure, predisposes individuals to exacerbations of bronchitis as they cause chronic inflammation and impaired innate immune defences.[6]


  • Smoking is a primary factor that contributes to the development of both acute and chronic bronchitis.[1]
  • Dampness and Mold

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications
  • Some prescription medications can increase a person's susceptibility to acute infections and their risk of chronic bronchitis.

Diagnostic Testing

Bronchitis is the top differential diagnosis in an individual with respiratory symptoms and cough as the primary complaint. The main diagnostic concern in cases of bronchitis is ruling out pneumonia, asthma, and COPD. A thorough patient history, including environmental exposure and recent illness as well as a focused physical exam are important in evaluating respiratory illness. The following diagnostic testing may be utilized to confirm a diagnosis and assess the severity of disease:[6]

  • Lab tests to confirm the etiologic agent involved in bronchitis, including nasopharyngeal swabs, sputum inspection, and tissue culture may be used in some cases of bronchitis. CBC is of use to evaluate for anemia if COPD is suspected.
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Diagnostic imaging including chest radiography and computed tomography are useful to rule out pneumonia and evaluate for other more serious, chronic respiratory diseases.
  • Pulmonary Function Tests
  • Pulmonary function tests including spirometry are used to evaluate the severity and progression of respiratory illnesses.

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Conditions related to bronchitis include:[1]


Acute Bronchitis is a generally brief, self-limited, inflammatory process affecting large and mid-sized airways.[1] Chronic Bronchitis is defined as an ongoing productive cough for 3 months in each of the 2 successive years, with all other possible causes of cough excluded.[8]

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms associated with bronchitis include:[1]

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

Home Care strategies include:

Bed rest, adequate hydration, and avoiding damp and cold weather are recommended in individuals with bronchitis. Cough suppressants should also be avoided as congestive mucous should be coughed up. Of course smoking cessation should be encouraged.[5]
  • Individuals with bronchitis and/or COPD have increased mortality from influenza and other upper respiratory infections, so proper hygiene to avoid other respiratory infections is necessary.[6]


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Adequate hydration is important in cases of bronchitis. Individuals are encouraged to consume water, or broths to maintain adequate hydration.[5]
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation involving exercise conditioning is important in cases of chronic bronchitis and COPD. Exercise may include light resistance training.[6]
  • Maintaining proper posture, especially of the upper torso, allows for optimal lung function and can be an important part of bronchitis treatment.
  • As cigarette smoking is the most important factor in the development of bronchitis and in acute exacerbations, it is recommended that smoking cessation be a primary goal in bronchitis treatment.[6]
  • Ensuring adequate sleep is important, especially in the treatment of acute bronchitis.
  • Minimal activity and bed rest are recommended for individuals with bronchitis, especially when acute.[5]

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for bronchitis include:

Article Pelargonium Sidoides for Pediatric Bronchitis, NMJ, [1], 2012 September
  • Mustard poultices on the chest may be helpful.
  • Studies have demonstrated the traditional chinese medicine and acupuncture may be effective in the treatment of bronchitis. Specifically, acupuncture of back shu points and cupping.[10]
  • Hydrotherapy treatments such as steam inhalation may be helpful in the treatment of bronchitis.[6][5]
  • Controlled coughing, a technique where individuals inspire deeply, hold their breath, and produce an effective mucous dispelling cough, is helpful in individuals with COPD and bronchitis.[6]
  • The use of electromechanical percussor, or the cup-hand technique may be used by caregivers to help individuals with bronchitis and COPD to expel mucous.[6]
  • Chest diathermy may be helpful.[5]


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [2]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Walsh EE (2009) Mandell: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases 7th ed Chap 61 Acute Bronchitis Churchill Livingstone
  2. 2.0 2.1 Prousky Jonathan (2008) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition CCNM Press.
  3. Reed M (2008) Association Found Between Cured Meat and Increased Risk of COPD Veg J 27(4) 21-21
  4. Tiollier E et al. (2005) Intense training: mucosal immunity and incidence of respiratory infections Eur J of App Phys 93(4):421-8
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Hoffman D (2003) Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine Healing Arts Press
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 Shapiro SD, Reilly JJ, Rennard SI (2010) Mason: Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine 5th ed Chap 39 Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema Saunders
  7. Fisk WJ, Eliseeva EA, Mendell MJ (Nov 2010) Association of residential dampness and mold with respiratory tract infections and bronchitis: a meta-analysis. Environ Health;15;9:72. PMID: 21078183.
  8. Budev MM, Wiedemann HP (2010) Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine, 2nd ed Section 12 Pulmonary-Bronchitis Saunders
  9. Godfrey Anthony, Saunders Paul Richard, Barlow Kerry, Gilbert Cyndi, Gowan Matthew, Smith Fraser (2010) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine, Vol 1: Botanical Medicine Monographs, CCNM Press, Toronto
  10. Xu, Zhang, et al. (2009) Clinical observation on treatment of acute bronchitis primarily by pricking-cupping on back-shu points Oriental Med J 17(5)24-27