how to get rid of mucous

my flat-leaf parsley and chives are thriving on the front step….and I’ve been adding them to most of our evening meals.

Since Poet started pre-school in mid-July we have been plagued by snot; apparently a good dose of phlegm is a pre-school rite of passage.

Spring is often the time of year when we expel mucous; our bodies are spring cleaning themselves and getting rid of the bulk of winter. If you’re currently snotty consider it a cleanse and not so much a cold. There are a few things you can do to quicken the process and I’m currently embracing all of them, to some extent, as I’m snuffly too. These hints and tips come from many consultations with my naturopath as well as the recent online course I did on how to boost your child’s immunity (it’s running again soon and I highly recommend it).

stay away from dairy 

Whilst I’m not vehemently against it, I do know that if I’m suffering from even the slightest bit of congestion, dairy makes it so much worse. Dairy is a phlegm-producing food and whilst it can be used throughout summer to essentially cool the body, it’s best to steer clear of it in spring when your body is cleansing. Through iridology (and mother’s intuition) I’ve discovered that Poet definitely has a phlegmy constitution and, therefore, an intolerance to dairy. But like all of us, she craves what she’s allergic to. She would drink milk and eat cheese all day long if I let her. A few weeks ago I made her porridge with almond milk and she said to me in the crankiest of tones: “Dis is not the good milk!” I won’t deny her dairy all-together (I want her to experience the goodness of an ice-cream cone and the indulgence of butter spread on sourdough) but when she is suffering from congestion I completely remove it from her diet.

minimise sugar and “damp” foods

Chinese medicine and Ayurveda believe that foods fall into the “damp” or “dry” category. Dairy is considered a damp food, as is anything processed or fried. Not surprisingly, sugar also falls under this category – but that means natural sugars, too. Bananas and avocados are two of the most mucous-producing foods you can eat, as are most fruits (shocking, I know). I have made a point of minimising fruit over the past few weeks and yes, I have noticed a difference in Poet (I’m still eating fruit as I find I really need that natural sugar hit). Again, this is only something I’ll apply when we’re not well.

increase vegetable and broth intake

If fruit and dairy are out what do you feed your children? Tricky, isn’t it. Think about foods that will, essentially, “mop up” the damp in the body. We’ve been having lots of bone broths (with soba noodles, kale, green beans and broccoli), white rice, ginger, vegetables, eggs and sourdough. Occasionally I will make a fresh citrus juice with ginger and yes, while it goes against Chinese medicine, I find it works for us if we drink it sparingly.

clear the sinuses

Granted, it’s a little too cold for a swim in the ocean right now but simply being in the salt air (and the sunshine) does wonders for the sinuses. Salty water or saline is the best thing out there for blocked sinuses – nothing like a good clear out in the ocean! Yogis use an ancient tradition called neti (with a specially designed pot you tilt your head to the side, pour warm salty water in one nostril and it comes out the other) and yes, I’ve practised it before and reaped the benefits. Lately, on my naturopath’s recommendation, I’ve been coating the inside of my nostrils with olive oil (as a protective barrier) and placing one drop of eucalyptus oil up my nose to help clear – it works!

For the children, I rub eucalyptus balm on their feet and chest at night and burn eucalyptus and lemon oil during the day. I also place a few drops of eucalyptus oil on the floor of the shower and let them inhale the steam.

rest up and stay warm

Sleep is a cure all and keeping feet and kidneys warm is a must. If it’s a particularly windy day I’ll stay indoors; I’m so sensitive to the wind and I find it really “whips” me into a frenzy – I get agitated and stressed and hence my immune system suffers. If my throat is sensitive I’ll wrap a scarf around my neck to ensure its protected at all times. Warm tea always helps clear congestion – ginger is my current go-to.

Further reading:

spring : notes from my naturopath
autumn : notes from my naturopath

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Showing 8 comments
  • Becca Waterloo

    i love it, thank you for the suggestion. I am so sensitive to dairy as well, I really need to kick that bad habit.

  • Lucy W

    Interesting to read, some tips I could definitely use in our household. I was really interested to hear you don't like the wind as my youngest has had an aversion to windy days ever since he was born. He used to cry and cry as a baby and now as a 2 year old even if it's sunny if there's a strong wind he just wants to go home or get indoors. So glad August is over, the windiest month where we live!

  • lili nfolks

    it is really so interesting as your propose an holistic vision! I do agree so much to stay away from dairy in these case, I even tried a vegan ice-cream recipe and I love it. Thanks a lot!

  • Gaby

    Clementine basically did the same thing last week when I put almond milk in her oatmeal, though she communicated wordlessly by spitting out every. last. spoonful. It was a fail. She does like coconut milk though; I'm pretty sure that's considered less damp then dairy. x


    We've ditched the dairy completely for Nicholas, given kids with T21 are prone to respiratory issues, and he is definitely my healthiest child – hasn't been sick at all this winter. We try to minimise bananas, but I didn't realise avocadoes were in that category too… we live off those around here 😉 x

  • Elke Indigo

    Great article Jodi. I've been on the olive and euc oil treatment in the nostrils previously and found it fantastic. Whenever I find symptoms returning, I return to this treatment with great success. It's fantastic for opening the airways.

    Our other great mucus clearing treatment is turmeric. Fresh into as many meals as possible. When turmeric is available fresh, I slice finely and dry it to grind up into honey. A teaspoon of this periodically through the day has the mucus clearing out quick smart. It's fantastic. You can buy dried turmeric chips online for this therapy, but as I said, we just make our own when new season turmeric is available. I love the expectorant qualities of turmeric, it's like magic. Happy cleansing, healing and Spring! Xxxx

  • Dre | no frills mum

    What a fantastic and informative post. We are from freeezing Central Victoria and have just spent two weeks on Fraser Island, QLD. I found the warm weather and salty sea water and air really cleared up my girls runny noses. Perhaps we should make the move to the sunny state 😉 On a serious note, thanks for sharing all your valuable knowledge and tips! Hope you're keeping well x

  • Zena

    If it wasn't for you Jodie, I would of missed out on this incredible course this past winter. Can I just add everything you just listed is also good for kids with eczema. After removing damping foods and adding broth to everything his eczema disappeared for good in just a month. Happy days!

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