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British Lung Foundation
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I got a tip today from someone with stage 3 lung disease. He said you won't find it on any website but...

He said to clear mucus and avoid colds buy menthol crystals from Boots. Put 1 (only one because they are very strong) into some warm water. Leave for about a minute, hold it to your nose and inhale for a short while. Do this no more than once every week or two..

He swears by it and said it works brilliantly.

Might try it.

Bev xx

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39 Replies

I for one will be trying it Bev.Think everyone else will too x

me too ! thanks for sharing that Bev xxxx

Will be giving that a go Bev xx , They say that a daily salt gargle and nasal wash is good too but i havn't tried it yet only occasionally , would take a bit of getting used to xx . thanks for tip xx . xxxx Dinny xxxx

Thanks Hypercat I'm in my sixties and my old mother used to swear by this method. Works a treat. I usually cover my head over a bowl with a towel. Hope it works for others.

Thanks Bev, I'll certainly have a bash at this ! , I suffer from C.O.P.D. and I make far too much Mucus, and in trying to cough it up , leave myself gasping for air, - air I should be surviving on , NOT for expelling Mucus - THREE TIMES I have ended up in hosptal on a Nebuliser to get my breathing back to a normal rate.

Vittorio, given that u have so much mucus, have you been referred to a physio via your doctor. As they can show you techniques to help you expel the mucus without you gasping for air, you will of course have some sob but by being shown how to use methods to expel the mucus you should not be left gasping for air. Huffing is a good way of expelling muscus, as is a small plastic device called an acapella or there is another device, that is a pipe shape, whose name i have forgotten, these have to be given to you by a physio tho, as they need to show you how to use them properly, they are brilliant at clearing mucus and also you could mention to your doctor how you would like to know about methods to be used for nasal clearance, my own doctor told me to use a small teaspoon of baking powder in boiled cool water and to use a wide syringe, fill it with the liquid and gently insert into the nostril at an angle so the liquid reaches your sinuses and you would be amazed how much gunk is cleared from each nostril doing this, again i cant stress enough that yu should check with your doctor first if this method is suitable for you. I find it really good, not only does it make breathing better, but helps stop infections that can be caught by nasal drip when sleeping. best wishes Janie xx

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just take care with this - my doc mentioned that afterwards the airways can close more - not sure if that's because they open up a lot and the difference afterwards is therefore more noticeable or whether they close further temporarily. I will try this too -and carefully :)

brilliant idea hypercat and rose, I didn't know about menthol crystals, just the oil I use, and peppermint from garden, will try crystals, might be cheaper too. does anyone remember Fryers Balsam ?


julie I have not noticed it close but will watch out and see.

Thanks for that Bev. Will look out for it when we next go to a Boots store. Thanks for sharing. xxxxxx

Hi, I'm new to this site, thankyou for the help you all share.xx


So am I Squirel ! - very infomative , and I too thank the "Repliers" - if ther'e is such a word!!! - kind regards Vittorio.

My dad used to do this, he had late stage COPD. He said it helped him.

My hubby uses Benelyn, may not be good for him but he finds the menthol too harsh on his lungs. Didn't know about the peppermint, he might try this.

Tutty fruity

Oops, can't spell, missed so much school was ill. it's Frairs Balsam I meant, has Siam Benzoin, Angelica and Aloe in it for asthma, chronic bronchitis, an antiseptic expectorant. I am still going to get hypercat's menthol crystals to try, we can dilute them.


Please dont think i am being a spoilsport but any inhalers used for nasal clearance should be discussed with your GP before using, there are variouse salt (saline) remedies that can be used with a nebuliser and are meant to be the best form to use, altho after discussing with your gp if it is necessary for you, then usually a physio will tell you how much salt to use with i think distilled water, and will then tell you how to do it with your nebuliser, if you dont have a nebuliser your doctor may be able to supply one through the health service, or your physio may be able to get one for you, unfortunately i wasnt able to get one from our cash strapped health service in n. ireland and had to buy one myself, if u do have to buy one you can get great bargains on ebay, brand new ones are sold, as i would not use a 2nd hand one, i actually bought mine from a company called respironics, and the name of the nebuliser was called inspiration elite (and no i dont work for them lol) its a great little machine and does the job great, costing around £40 i think, whereas you can go all out and buy a top of the range one that can be used for any medications that can be used with a nebuliser, these machines, which again are sold new on ebay and are from sellers who bought them for relatives who didnt get to use them are sold for approx. half the price as ones sold on sites that sell them, i think they can cost up to £200, but i would definitely discuss with your gp anything you intend to use for nasal clearance. The difference it makes to breathing. is fantastic once you are able to find something that is safe to use . kind regards Janie xxxxxx

hello if you want to nebulise saline you should ask your GP and they will if they agree give you nebules of saline at the right mix they are just like the salmol one's

happy sniffing it does work so do all the other things to a point, they do help at times

Thanks for the tip Hypercat , i have to say since we sited our caravan on the coast when im there i breath better and get my mucus up easier , we bumped into a guy using an oxygen concentrator whilst there he said he moved to the coast because he to can breath easier he told us it's sea salt in the air , he also said buy sea salt for your food i have and i feel better , its wonderfull how things like sea salt and crystals can help you feel better .

Hi Bev definitely going to try this and also zubes friars balsam (I remember my gran, a smoker using this) and lindirose's peppermint oil also. Not all at once of course!

I am on a course of mucodyne at present and will wait and see if this works as it is on prescription and I believe fairly new on the market. Don't want to waste what I have left also will be glad to see how the mucodyne works.

Isn't this forum a great source of information and in lots of cases the only source of information, thank you all xx

Thanks Hypercat, Menthol chrystals are also very good for anyone who suffers with allergies or sinusitis. Bit of a nuisance if you are female, as it ruins your hairstyle, however, better to clear those old passages than worry about your hair. If you want to stop problems with sinuses before they happen use Sterimar spray ever morning it is more costly than menthol but it does prevent me from getting bunged up. Maximonkey

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Cheers - I'm off to Boots after work.

I do not produce a lot of mucous - which doesn't mean to say there isn't any there as I alway feel ill. Can anyone comment on the efficay of the flutter device?

janie think they are talking about steam inhalation, just an extra to try to loosen up mucus.

I use saline and a pep device from lung clinic, my GP did not know what it was !

your respironics sounds good.


peace012, I have a flutter and don't like it, it does not clear my lungs as well as my pep, and others say acapella is even better. Flutter needs a long steady breath out for it to work, the vibrations are not stong enough and you can only use it sitting up


Go easy on the sea salt.Salt is not good for you and we already have a lot added to all our food including cornflakes!!.

Menthol crystals are good and do help, however they can be irrating to skin and eyes so go careful.

thanx carlo, I do use sea salt in neb but my last blood test showed low salt level, so hope it's ok to keep using. I do not use it regularly, just when needed.


PS, I never eat cornflakes... it's raw green juice for my brecki !


My dad uses olbas oil in water and inhales that................many people have said it was good so he tried it.

Hi Folks the flutter valve the pipe shape device that you blow into is not too popular with most people that use it, it has to be shown to you by a physio to know how to use it properly as it is a waste of time using it, if you are not shown how to use it properly, some people have to fiddle with it and even have to blow into it upside down for it to work. The acapella again this can be obtained from your physio via your doctors confirmation that it will benefit you and i have one and it is brilliant. I really have trouble bringing up mucus but i use mucodyne, a capsule you can get on prescription which thins the mucus and makes it less sticky, blow into the acapella as shown by the physio and the amount of gunk it clears is amazing. But before i use it, i put one vial of salbutomol with one of normal saline into my nebulizer, this moistens the lungs and makes it easier for the gunk when using the acapella to rise to the upper airways, where a couple of good coughs brings it up and out. \before i used the acepella i was getting constant infections as the gunk was far down in my lungs and ordinary huffing wasnt reaching way down into my lungs meaning i was getting more infections one nearly monthly, i have had 3 in a year since using the nebuliser and acapella. a lot of respiritory nurses maintain that 3 good puffs using a spacer is as agood as a nebuliser, but personally i find the nebuliser definitely better for me, again, it is something that would have to be discussed with your gp or resp. consultant.

By far the best way to clear mucus from the airways is to use a nebuliser with a 7% saline mixture, which most users have to get from a hospital pharmacy, and before they can use it, they have to be assessed by resp. consultant and then gp, who notifies a physio, who will then, explain how it works and will go through the procedure of showing you how to use it, it is easy to do, but the correct mixture is essential for it to work properly, also anyone with a heart condion, like myself is not allowed to use a saline mixture of this strength 7% as the salt content is far to high for the heart, that is why i am only allowed to use, one vial of normal saline which contains very litttle saline at all and salbutomol, the same stuff that is in an inhaler. therfore, an appointment with your gp is essential before trying any of these methods, who will then make an appointment either with your resp. consultant or a physio, depending on what other health problems you may have. If you are given the go ahead and allowed to use the saline with nebuliser the difference in your breathing will most certainly be noticeable and will be of enormous benefit to anyone who is allowed to use it. very good luck to anyone who goes for it, best wishes Janie xxxxxxx

brilliant explanation Janie, thanx. I will ask my specialist about the 7% saline.

sorry for late reply, hubby had stroke and I have to leave my pc to help him to toilet, wash etc... him on water tabs, so frequent !...

su x

PS Janie, despite repeated requests from me, my specialist here ducks out of giving me an acapapella, they say you can manage a bit longer with your old pep !?... told them it has expire 2007 stamped on it and it does not oscillate like acapella.... I needed this help as far back as the 50's !... the surgeon who removed half my left lung in 1972 said it would not have needed to be removed if I had been told how to clear the gung from birth... I desparately need an acapella and will buy one if no lung clinic will help me... for goodness sake, I have seen an 8yr old child demonstrating how to use it on the net, I am so sorry those youngsters with true CF suffer so much.

su x

my dad used to do it , as he had this condition x

Zube your resp. nurse should be able to get u a new acapella from the physio dept. of the hospital you attend, after all if your pep is out of date i cant see it beeing of much use to you.

The only company i know that has the franchise for selling the acapella to members of the public is Henleys Medical supplies, which can be found by googling them. They charge £60 plus for the acapella plus £10 postage, as they use a courier service, which they insist they have to use as they need to get a signature from customers as so many customers were complaining they were not receiving their items - I did point out to Henleys that an acapella could be sent via next day special delivery for approx. £6+ and would still be signed for but they insisted that their method of postage was better, also if you, like me live in N. Ireland they charge £20 postage - I told them i thought this was outrageous and that they were just making money out of ill people who had not choice but to buy from them as they are the only company i know in GB that has the franchise for selling the acapellas. By the way if you do buy one from Henleys, you can claim back the v.a.t. and since i complained to them that they had not put this on their sales page, they now have a page that you can print off and send with your money and are given a refund of v.a.t. - kind regards Janie xx


Notice it has gone down £10 in price since i wrote complaining that they were ripping off ill people, it is now £53+ including vat, which can be claimed back, forgot to see if postage had be reduced lol - Janie xxx

Wow I certainly stirred up a lot of thoughts here - 34 posts - I repeat wow.

For those who want to try the menthol crystals remember they are very strong - so no more than 1 crystal a time and certainly not more than once a week. Probably 2 weeks better.

Remember to dilute it to in warm water (not hot) and leave if for at least 1 minute. You havent got to use a towel over your head, you can just hold it to your chin. If it is too strong for you fair enough.

My source said few chemists sell it but he knows Boots does. He said a friend of his tried it too and it really helped.

Bev xx

Yeh wow, thanx hypercat, lots of ideas from your tip ! and thank you Janie for your support too, I did know about henleys, well done for your "rip off result" !...

well, it's still a lot for me on basic pension, I will "target" my request for the acapello to as many GP's /specialists as I can get to.... it is 4hrs on the bus there and back to my lung clinic. there might be a chance that one of them has a sample in a drawer, from a pharmaceutical rep ??.. desperate or what.... ..at least I got a free bus pass..

don't worry, I'll get one !

su xx

(35 posts now)

thanx Bev (36)

Inhalation using menthol/eucalyptus is very old and very effective. My Mum used to have me do it when I was kid. My GP says it's great, especially if you have a problem with gunk in the inner ear, but says he cannot recommend it to patients generally because of the health and safety (hot water). You can use a flask with a mask which you can get from Betterware, which saves the hair do!

Peace - I don't like the flutter personally, but we are all different and I do know of peeps who like it. The reason I dislike it is because you can only use it upright. I prefer and love my acapella - I do postural draining with percussion and shakes and I can also use the acapella at the same time in any position. The floppy hand claps in pd trap the air and this vibrates the gunk and the acapella does a similar job. Works for me, but as I say we are all different.

Just a note on nebulising saline. It is usual to nebulise a bronchodilator first to open up the airways, followed by the saline (I know in hospitals they often put them both in together, but this is for convenience and speed) it's not really the correct way. I nebulise daily before physo and in the main I use 0.9% saline which I find pretty effective. However if I have an infection, as now, I use hypertonic saline 7%. Usually it is the consultant who puts the treatment plan in place and then the GP can prescribe the phials. If cons wants you to try hypertonic you have to have a trial at the hospital first as some peeps airways do not tolerate it.

Love X

Thankyou Janie, for your ongoing advice. it is reassuring, and helps a great deal. Very easy to folllow too.

Thank Bev will try anything. This is a stab in the dark but hows (Keith) or is it a diffrent Bev ?? regards Malk.

Hi Just found this advice and it reminded me when I was a child I had to spend a lot of time in hospital and I remember they put a little menthol crystal in hot water in a pot bottle with a mouth piece that I had to put in my mouth and inhale the vapour until the water went cold. There is a lot of good ideas from the old days. (I am 64 years old now)

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