The power of breathing and how to get rid of a cough in no time…

While for centuries breathing has been recognised as a shortcut to instant inner calm, a de-stressor for our times and a vital tool in our universal ability to counter negativity and manage our moods, it has never felt so relevant as it does today.

The last two years have been tough – so many people have been feeling like they’re holding their breath, waiting for a sign that it is safe to relax and exhale. In our society we invoke the language of breath and breathing to help us process times of trouble. Nothing communicates the sense of something not being right better than the feeling of not being able to breathe. But we also use that same imagery to encourage calm and healing.

When you tell yourself or someone else to ‘take a deep breath’, metaphor meets reality. We’re not so much talking about the obvious stuff, like how to get rid of a blocked nose. Instead, we’re advocating for relaxation, slowing down and taking stock, while also giving a literal reminder to breathe. Metaphors of breath are some of the most visceral and powerful we have available to us, for good reason. As we all know, to breathe is to live.

From ancient times to modern day, Pranayama to our recent pandemic, breathing is something we can never take for granted.


Ancient traditions and current research both tell us that breathing well is a crucial part of living well. Reclaiming the power of breath is a great way to address the challenges of modern life. Of course, it’s not news that breathing is important. However, research into the specifics of how the breath works shows in detail just how vital it is. Breathing is a fundamental driver of the body’s energy levels, accounting for two thirds of our fuel. It might be surprising, but 70% of the toxins the body needs to eliminate leave through our breath[1]. By balancing the levels of oxygen and CO2 in our bodies, breathing regulates our internal pH – the balance of acid and alkaline, which in turn supports the immune system and autonomic nervous system.

All these essential processes are disrupted when we have issues with our breathing, such as a dry tickly cough, a blocked nose, an excess of phlegm or mucus, or other kinds of congestion in the nose, throat or lungs. The improvement of nasal airflow, for example when we enjoy the decongestion after getting over a cold, has been linked to a range of benefits, including better sleep, enhanced alertness during the day and more effective exercise[2].


This research is the latest in a long history of interest in the power and importance of breathing. For millennia, religious practices and healthcare traditions across the world have incorporated breathing rituals and techniques. The words for ‘breath’ and ‘spirit’ or ‘life’ are the same, or closely related, in dozens of languages, including Hebrew, Ancient Greek, Chinese, Hawaiian and many of the ancient and current languages of India[3].

In the words of Dr Stanislav Grof (one of the pioneers of breathwork in the 20th century) “virtually every major psychospiritual system seeking to comprehend human nature has viewed breath as a crucial link between nature, the human body, the psyche, and the spirit”[4]. Breathing exercises are an essential part of Tibetan Vajrayana, Sufi practice, Burmese Taoist meditation, Buddhist meditation practices including Vipassanā and Zen, and yogic disciplines like Kundalini and Siddha Yoga, among many other traditions.


Life in the 21st century is complicated. We make hundreds of decisions and face all kinds of obstacles every day. At each of these moments we experience stress – whether it’s the result of pressure, the unexpected, choice, expectation, or just having too many things on our plate at once.

This hyperstimulation is compounded by our endless use of phones, tablets and other digitals, which flood our senses with more information than we have yet evolved to process. In a global economy, our work culture can also be super stressful. Many of us feel the demand to be always on, and continually productive every day, regardless of the nature of our work.


All this stress can have serious repercussions for our health. We experience a biological stress response when we feel threatened, which gives our autonomic nervous system the cue to release the hormones we need for fight or flight. But these are almost never appropriate responses to modern stressors, so the hormones sweep through our bodies with nowhere to go. Longer term, this can cause serious issues in the respiratory, cardiovascular, nervous and digestive systems [5]. It also impacts our immune systems, making us more susceptible to coughs and colds that create congestion and interfere with our breathing.

Stress is well known as a major concern for most of us, but all that changes when we remember that the power to start counteracting it is in our own hands – or, more specifically, in our respiratory system.


Relaxed, slow, deep breathing triggers a host of beneficial processes in the body. It helps lower the heart rate, and this in turn stabilizes blood pressure. By regulating respiratory pH, breathing eases inflammation and reduces the potential damage caused by the stress responses of the autonomic nervous system. The combination of these processes is what some scientists call the ‘relaxation response’[6], creating a state of profound rest not unlike the state we experience from many types of meditation, or after a yin yoga class.

It is not always easy to take the time to relax and breathe deep in moments of stress, but if we are conscious about how we use the power of our breath we can make beneficial changes to our own health, quickly and easily. There are many resources available to help – the NHS recommends a simple daily breathing exercise designed to reduce stress, which is a great place to start[7]. Everyone breathes differently, so expert workshops (check out the intuitive sessions hosted by Breathpod[8]) can be a great next step in coaching us to understand our own breathing more deeply.


When a cold or cough interferes with your ability to breathe easily, there are many ways to open the airways. When the question is how to get rid of a blocked nose, a steam with a nasal decongestant is the classic solution. But if you want to breathe easily, clear congestion and calm tickly coughs without hovering over a steaming bowl under a towel try natural formulas like our Dutchy Labs CBD Breathe Balm [9]. Our Breathe Balm blends ingredients including wild orange, cardamom and eucalyptus – they’re proven to open everything up, get rid of congestion and ease chest congestion, too.

The balm is formulated to simply melt all the aromatic essential extracts into your skin, where they will naturally find where your body needs them most, clear your airwaves and help you breathe freely again. It’s the best decongestant for sinuses and blocked and runny noses, great for chest congestion but, most excitingly, some users are telling us it’s really helpful in managing chronic and long-term respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and even the impact of long covid.

Using breathing techniques and the best decongestant for you will open every passage and enable you to breathe freely to the bottom of your lungs, helping boost your health and wellbeing in no time. Just take a deep breath….


For congestion, bronchitis, persistent coughs and tightness when breathing, this luxurious balm melts nature’s most effective extracts for clearing the airways deep into skin. Created to help anybody living with respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and long Covid, as well as to counter the tightness and difficulty breathing that can come with chesty colds and flu, Dutchy Labs CBD Breathe Balm is formulated with our potent CBD oil and pure essential oils of Black Spruce, Wild Orange, Cardamom, Eucalyptus, and Frankincense. These naturals are all chosen for their proven powers to help clear congestion and are blended with conditioning Shea butter, Jojoba, and Rosehip oils.

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