Understanding Pneumonia: Natural Strategies for Boosting Immunity and Recovery

Did you know that how your immune system responds can largely determine whether pneumonia develops?


Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to help your immune system. Actually, many are the things we’ve been told by our parents for years:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat well
  • Go outside to play
  • Take a deep breath

Let’s take a closer look at what experts say about pneumonia, lung health, mucus, immunity, and how you can help your body heal faster, naturally.


Note: Natural remedies cannot cure or treat pneumonia; seek advice from a qualified medical professional.


Can Your Body Heal Itself from Pneumonia?

Yes! Many people who develop pneumonia recover and can heal after the infection. The body can be incredibly good at healing itself when you support it. If you haven’t yet adopted a holistic lifestyle, this may change your mind: natural, healthy habits can support the body to enhance healing.

But, to understand how, let’s take a closer look at pneumonia and how it affects your body.


What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of your lungs caused by bacteria or viruses. The infection causes inflammation in your lungs. As the tissue swells, fluid and pus build up in the air sacs in one or both of your lungs.

Adults older than age 65, children under the age of 2, and people with heart or lung conditions, weakened immune systems, or underlying health conditions are at higher risk of pneumonia becoming a life-threatening condition.


Symptoms of Pneumonia

Cough, chills, fever, and difficulty breathing are common symptoms of pneumonia. Symptoms may also include chest pain, confusion, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. It is important to see a doctor if you have difficulty breathing, chest pain, or a persistent fever or cough.


How Do You Build Immunity to Pneumonia?

Although the expression, “build immunity” is popular, it is not a scientifically accurate term. However, it is possible to support your immune system, helping it be the best it can be.

Your body is usually pretty good at preventing the bacteria and viruses in the air you breathe from infecting your lungs, but sometimes they overpower your immune system.

Good hygiene, such as regular hand washing or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, as well as wearing facial masks in public settings are suggested by community health organizations as ways to help protect your body from infections.

For instances when your body does encounter a potentially troublesome bacteria or virus, you’ll want a strong immune system ready. Your lungs have a unique pool of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) that can quickly recruit other immune cells upon infection. Supporting drainage of the lungs can also speed the recovery of pneumonia.

A holistic lifestyle that includes enough rest, movement, good nourishment, and stress management can help keep your immune system strong.


6 Natural Remedies that May Help Sooth Symptoms of Pneumonia

  • Choose Healthy Foods – good nutrition helps your body recover.
  • Drink Lots of Fluids – staying hydrated can help loosen secretions and bring up phlegm.
  • Avoid Alcohol – difficult on the body it could weaken your immune system.
  • Rest – defeating invading bacteria or viruses is tiring work, so rest up.
  • Humidity – steamy baths, showers, or humidifiers help your airways and can ease breathing.
  • Natural Medicines – potentially helpful supplements include NAC, vitamin D, echinacea, probiotics, and zinc.


What Helps Pneumonia Heal Faster, Naturally?

Research shows there are natural medicines that support the body’s ability to enhance the immune response and clear fluid in the lungs, two actions that may help with recovery from respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia.


  1. Echinacea

A well-known natural medicine with immune-supporting effects, studies show Echinacea purpurea enhances the immune system response during respiratory infections: a Canadian study, after a week of taking Echinacea supplements, the number of neutrophils circulating increased, as well as other immune cells involved in fighting infections.


It’s proposed that echinacea may play a role in speeding up recovery from respiratory tract illnesses, and in reducing the risk of recurrent infections and complications, including pneumonia. But, there’s insufficient data to date on whether it has beneficial effects on the immune system during pneumonia.


  1. Vitamin C

Despite many studies on the potential of vitamin C in the prevention or treatment of pneumonia, it is uncertain as to whether it has an effect. However, vitamin C is an essential nutrient known to play a role in aspects of the immune response.


  1. Zinc

A mineral known to play a central role in the immune system, zinc deficiency increases susceptibility to infectious diseases. A review of studies, including over 2000 patients with severe pneumonia reported zinc given as an adjunct to the treatment of severe pneumonia is effective in reducing rates of mortality.



How Do You Get Rid of Mucus in Your Lungs Naturally?

Traditional at-home solutions to help alleviate mucus in your respiratory tract include the use of humidifiers, hot baths, or steamy showers, elevating your head, and drinking lots of clear liquids. As for natural medicines, here’s what science says about NAC and probiotics:



N-acetylcysteine (NAC) supports the immune response in the lungs in multiple ways that help reduce symptoms of pneumonia and other inflammatory respiratory tract. As such NAC is widely used as a mucolytic remedy and antioxidant in clinical practice. Studies show NAC helps reduce both the clearance, and amount of mucus that is produced.



The immunomodulatory effects of probiotics are well established, with studies suggesting probiotics can help reduce inflammation in the lungs due to disease. Interestingly, the study also found evidence that probiotics can reduce mucus secretion in the lungs. More research is needed, but future research will enhance our understanding of the important role the human microbiome plays in immunity, pneumonia, and other respiratory infections.



Can You Naturally Reduce Recurrence of Pneumonia?

Are you susceptible to repeat episodes of pneumonia? A holistic lifestyle allows you to support your body, enhancing the ability of your immune system to do it’s best to defend against viruses and bacteria in the air you breath from infecting your lungs.


Vitamin D

One consideration is your vitamin D status, particularly for children and those living in northern latitudes where sunlight exposure is limited during winter months. Thirteen studies found vitamin D supplementation reduced the incidence of repeat episodes of pneumonia – it was most effective in children. High dose vitamin D intervention appears to enhance immune efficacy, but to support that vitamin D supplementation has therapeutic effects on pneumonia, more studies are needed.


Learn more about the immune system and how a holistic approach can support wellness at CSNN.


The CSNN offers learning programs on evidence-based holistic approaches to health, including the illnesses of greatest current concern. Pneumonia is one of the most commonly searched illnesses by Canadians and Americans due to rising rates of respiratory track illnesses. Learn more about pneumonia, the immune system and science-backed strategies to improve wellness in programs offered at CSNN.





Pneumonia. Nature Reviews Disease Primers, 2021 April 8; 7(25).

Echinacea reduces the risk of recurrent respiratory tract infections and complications: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Adv Ther 2015 Mar;32(3):187-200.

Echinacea purpurea: A proprietary extract of echinacea purpurea is shown to be safe and effective in the prevention of the common cold. Holist Nurs Pract 2016 Jan-Feb;30(1):54-7.

A proprietary extract from the echinacea plant (Echinacea purpurea) enhances systemic immune response during a common cold. Phytother Res 2005 Aug; 19(8):689-94.

Vitamin D deficiency and severity of pneumonia in Indonesian children. PLoS One 2021 Jul 9;16(7):e0254488.

Efficacy of high-dose vitamin D supplementation as an adjuvant treatment on pneumonia: systematic review and a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. Nutr Clin Pract 2021 Apr; 36(2):368-384.

Effect of N-acetylcysteine on mucosal immunity of respiratory tract. Ter Arkh 2018 Apr 19;90(3):89-95.

Vitamin C supplementation for prevention and treatment of pneumonia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2021 Nov 18;11(11):CD013134.

Efficacy of zinc given as an adjunct to the treatment of severe pneumonia: A meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled trials. Clin Respir J 2018 Mar; 12(23):857-864.