What is the respiratory system?

The respiratory system is an incredible network of organs and tissues that allows us to breathe and obtain the oxygen essential for life. It sustains life by ensuring our cells receive the oxygen they need while removing waste gases. 

From the nose or mouth, the air travels down the throat and into the pharynx, which acts as a common passage for both air and food. It's here that the epiglottis, a flap-like structure, ensures that food goes down the esophagus while air enters the trachea. At the bottom of the trachea, it splits into two bronchi, which further divide into smaller tubes called bronchioles. These structures resemble a tree's branches and help distribute air to different parts of the lungs.

The bronchioles lead to clusters of tiny air sacs called alveoli where oxygen enters the bloodstream, and carbon dioxide, a waste product of metabolism, exits the bloodstream to be expelled from the body.

Functions of the respiratory System

The respiratory system performs several vital functions within the human body to support the circulation of blood.

Oxygen Transport

The inhaled oxygen binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells and is transported to all cells and tissues in the body.

Carbon dioxide Removal

Carbon dioxide is transported in the bloodstream back to the lungs and from there, it is expelled from the body during exhalation.

pH Regulation

The body can control how much carbon dioxide is released by altering the rate and depth of breathing, which aids in keeping the pH within a specific, healthy range.

Filtering and Humidifying Air

The respiratory system filters away particle matter, dust, and infections from the air that is inhaled, keeping these things from getting to the sensitive lung tissue. It also humidifies the air,, adding moisture to the air to humidify it and keep the respiratory passages from drying up.


The respiratory system can aid in thermoregulation in cold conditions by warming the air before it enters the lungs, which helps to maintain the body's core temperature.

Sense of Smell

When you inhale through your nose, odor molecules in the air are detected by olfactory receptors in the nasal passages.

Metabolic Functions

The respiratory system indirectly affects metabolism by supplying oxygen for cellular respiration.

Common Diseases Associated with The respiratory System

Some of the most common respiratory system diseases are:

  • Influenza
  • Common cold
  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchitis
  • Lung cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cystic fibrosis

3 Supportive Herbs for the respiratory System

Anise Hyssop

Anise Hyssop

Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is an herb that has been traditionally used for its various medicinal properties, including potential benefits for the respiratory system. It has anti-inflammatory properties that make it fruitful for supporting the treatment of asthma and bronchitis.

Traditionally, it is used as a mild antispasmodic and may help relax the smooth muscles in the airways, potentially easing symptoms of coughing and bronchial spasms. It supports the body's natural mechanisms for clearing mucus from the airways which could be beneficial in conditions where excessive mucus production is a problem.

Anise hyssop is frequently used for herbal teas and other culinary applications because of its pleasant flavor and aroma. Drinking anise hyssop tea may provide a soothing and comforting sensation for the throat and respiratory passages.



Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis) contains mucilage, a material that resembles gel and has calming and demulcent qualities. When marshmallow root is made into a tea or taken as an herbal supplement, it can help calm the throat and respiratory tract mucous membrane irritability. This calming effect may be especially beneficial for easing the discomfort brought on by a sore throat or a dry, scratchy cough.

Marshmallow root is often used as an expectorant. It might be simpler for people with lung congestion to cough up phlegm by loosening and thinning mucus secretions. Its anti-inflammatory and soothing attributes are useful for various respiratory conditions, such as persistent cough, asthma, and bronchitis.

It can also help relieve throat discomfort caused by various factors, including dry air, allergies, or irritants. It forms a protective coating over the throat's sensitive tissues, reducing irritation and promoting comfort.

Marshmallow root is commonly preferred as tea. You can add its tincture to your water or tea and enjoy its countless perks.



Elecampane is often valued for its expectorant qualities. It can help promote the expulsion of mucus and phlegm from the respiratory tract which makes it potentially beneficial for individuals with respiratory congestion or a persistent cough, as it can facilitate the clearing of the airways.

Its antitussive properties make it fruitful for soothing dry, irritating coughs and reducing the frequency and intensity of coughing fits. It contains potential anti-inflammatory components that can help with asthma, bronchitis, and other inflammatory diseases of the respiratory tract. Some herbalists suggest that elecampane may have bronchodilatory effects. This action could potentially be beneficial for individuals with conditions marked by bronchoconstriction, such as asthma.

Elecampane can be prepared in various forms, including as a tea, tincture, or herbal supplement. 

Other Herbs for the Nervous System

Taking care of the nervous system involves adopting a holistic approach that encompasses healthy lifestyle habits such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management techniques, and adequate rest. Certain herbs are also traditionally used to support a healthy nervous system, including: