Natural Tools for Pneumonia and Other Infections of the Lungs

It doesn’t take long to get pneumonia. It can creep up on you within 24 hours. Unfortunately, healing from it can take a long time and can leave us unable to enjoy work or family life. (Super frustrating!) Most of us have responsibilities and rely on healing quickly to get back to our routines.

Pneumonia can start as a cold, sinusitis, fatigue, or pain in the chest or back. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, cough, fever, having the shakes or the chills, feeling fatigued or tired, and unclear thinking. Differentiating pneumonia from other respiratory infections or problems is done by listening to the lungs, running blood tests, or examining x-ray images. “Is pneumonia contagious?” is a common question. The answer is yes – any virus or bacteria of the respiratory tract can be contagious. Pneumonia occurs when the body is unable to properly expel bacteria or viruses from the lungs.

Naturopathic medicine shines when it comes to respiratory infections. I have seen many of my patients respond well to natural treatments, even patients who have been sick with pneumonia for up to six months and for whom antibiotics based on lung biopsy cultures were ineffective. After some natural tools geared toward their individual characteristics, these patients tend to feel better within days. What, exactly, can black bag medicine offer for pneumonia? Whether they’re facing bacterial pneumonia or viral pneumonia, my patients can rely on the following top three tools for healing:


Homeopathy helps the body focus on balance. Keynotes of a remedy range from a painful dry cough to a cough that sounds like a seal’s bark. Homeopathic remedies can help treat a range of ailments; whether the patient suffers from a simple cough or from deep-seated infection, homeopathy offers an effective treatment for pneumonia. Doses are usually given twice a day for three days and, with the correct remedy, coughing should subside quickly.


Herbs can soothe a cough, help with spasms, or help the patient cough up mucus. Different herbs are appropriate for different situations. For example, for a dry cough, we would look to anti-spasmatic and soothing herbs. For a wet or mucus-containing cough, however, we do not want to use anti-spasmatic herbs because we want to get the discharge out. Herbs can help disarm bacteria or viruses and provide nourishment to the lungs, and constituents from the herbs help the body take action such as coughing up mucus. No matter their unique properties, herbs are best taken in tincture or tea form for respiratory complaints.

Mustard Packs

Mustard packs or hydrotherapy can help increase the circulation within the lungs, which allows for the transfer of debris, bacteria, viral components, and mucus. White blood cells act as warriors against invading pathogens and accumulate in areas of the body when they receive signals that they are needed. For this reason, opening up blood flow in the lungs allows the immune system to arrive on the scene and fight the infection. A paste consisting of mustard and flour can be applied to a cheesecloth on the back or chest for 15 minutes daily to help clear the mucus. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully to avoid burns. Although they’re effective in adults, mustard packs are not for children. Alternating hot and cold compresses can effectively increase the heat and circulation in the chest for children.

Plenty of fluids, a clean diet, clean air, and rest are crucial for healing from a respiratory illness. It often takes 6 weeks to recover from pneumonia. Remember that each person is unique and can experience pneumonia symptoms differently – I can help you determine the best course of action for your specific condition.


  1. I couldn’t resist commenting. Very well written!

  2. Why would a mustard pack cause a burn?
    Can coeliacs use flour in the mustard pack?

    • Dr. Shannyn says

      The mustard itself can burn if the consistency is too strong. Celiacs can use gluten free flour in the mustard pack. I recommend any patient who is sensitive to gluten choose to use gluten free flour.

  3. My father is prone to having pneumonia. He is a smoker and usually doesn’t get a lot of sleep. Water isn’t on his menu very often and he isn’t keen on going to doctors. They don’t usually seem to help anyways; antibiotics don’t seem to further the healing process either. Each time he gets pneumonia it’s worse than the time before. What would you recommend other than what you have listed here?

    • Dr. Shannyn says

      I am sorry to hear about your dad’s struggles. Sounds like there is no easy answer hear especially since it has been going on for awhile. He will need to want to make a change so his lungs can learn to eliminate toxins more efficiently and allow for the air exchange from lungs to blood stream. Everyone is an individual and has different needs of focus but many patients benefit from a whole host of tools such as improving antioxidant levels, opening up elimination pathways and restoring normal lung function. I really hope you find some answers or at least some peace about your father’s decisions for his health.

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