13 Dec Effective elimination of mucus is essential for respiratory health
The respiratory mucus is mostly produced by specialized cells present in the respiratory epithelium called globlet cells. Normal mucus is composed by 97% water, that helps to humidify the incoming air, and 3% solids (proteins including mucins, salts, fats, and residues coming from dead cells).
The mucus is a gel, thanks to the presence of mucins, glycoproteins that create a three-dimensional network inside the liquid. It is soft, elastic, viscous, and sticky, trapping incoming foreign particles and microorganisms.
As we explained in this article, thanks to the continuous movement of the respiratory cilia, the mucus is propelled in the direction of the beak/mouth to expel it outside the body. Cough is a secondary mechanism for the expulsion of mucus.
A healthy mucus is a gel with low viscosity, that can be easily transported by the cilia. A pathologic mucus has a higher viscosity, it’s less easy to transport, and can clog the airways, making breathing more difficult.
Mucus production and clearance during respiratory diseases
Accumulation of mucus in the upper respiratory tract is a common sign of respiratory diseases in farm animals. It leads to cough, difficulty to breathe, and a higher risk of secondary infections.
Mucus can become pathologic, more viscous, and difficult to eliminate when:
- The animal is dehydrated
- The respiratory airways are inflamed
- The blood vessels of the upper respiratory tract become more permeable, for example, after exposure to toxics, allergens or during chronic respiratory diseases.
- There is an overproduction of mucins, for example when there is inflammation or a strong immune response.
The clearance of mucus is impaired when:
- The movement of the cilia slows down, for example when the animal is exposed to high concentrations of ammonia in the environment of the farm.
- When cilia are damaged or lost, for example when viruses infect the respiratory epithelium.
Use of eucalyptus and peppermint to relieve mucus accumulation in the upper respiratory tract
Eucalyptus and peppermint are used in to treat accumulation of mucus in the upper respiratory system. There are scientific studies that support this application:
- 1,8-cineol, a terpene present in eucalyptus oil, has anti-inflammatory activity, prevents the mucus from becoming pathogenic and avoids damages to the respiratory epithelium during infections.
- The direct contact of eucalyptus oil with the mucus reduces its viscosity.
- Menthone, a terpene present in peppermint oil, reduces the viscosity of the mucus
- Menthol, another terpene that is present in peppermint oil, inhibits cough, relaxes the muscles of the airways, and gives a sensation of easy breathing.
- Both eucalyptus oils and menthol increase the movement of the cilia, improving the clearance of mucus.
An additional benefit of using peppermint and eucalyptus during respiratory diseases is their antimicrobial action. Furthermore, eucalyptus oil has been proven to increase the bacterial clearance (elimination of pathogenic bacteria by the immune system of the animal).
Products of choice
PlusBreathe© contains essential oils with natural antiseptic, antioxidant, expectorant and mucolytic activity. It has a refreshing taste.
It is indicated to improve the functioning of the respiratory system and to mitigate heat stress in birds, ruminants, pigs and rabbits of all ages. It can also be nebulized in the farm environment.
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