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Pneumonia refers to the acute inflammation of the lungs. It is one of the most serious infectious diseases. A common complication of all kinds of pneumonia is pleurisy. Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, a serous membrane which envelopes the lungs and also lines the inside of the chest. It can affect just one lung or both.

Pleurisy may be acute or chronic and mild or severe, It may be limited to one side of the chest or it may include both the sides. This disease can attack people of all ages, from children right through to the very elderly. Like any other viral infection, pleurisy can occur in small epidemics. The membranes that cover the lung are called pleura.

The outer membrane, known as partial pleura, is applied to the inner wall of the thorax, and the inner membrane, known as the visceral pleura, covers the substance of the lungs. There is a capillary space between the two membranes which is filled with fluid.

This fluid enables the lungs to move freely in the chest. The parietal membrane is reflected from the chest wall to cover the upper surface of the diaphragm and, in the midline, it covers the mediastinum, the partition which separates the two sides of the chest and contains the heart, great vessels and other structures which run through the thorax.

The onset of pleurisy is generally marked by a sharp and stabbing pain, which may be felt in any part of the chest wall or over the diaphragm. Deep breathing or coughing increases the pain.

In many cases, the disease begins with a chill, followed by congestion of the pleura and later by fever. The degree of the fever determines the severity of the disease.

The inflammation destroys the tissues and chokes the circulation within the tissues. Breathing becomes difficult due to the clogging of the circulation and by pain and swelling within the chest.

Later a liquid effusion escapes from the pleura, filling the open spaces in the chest cavity till the effect of the distension becomes oppressive. After absorption takes place or after the drainage of the effusion, the pressure is lowered, the pain is reduced and the patient feels relieved. It is sometimes dry pleurisy, a form where there is little or no effusion or the effusion may be circumscribed. The effusion may become gangrenous, or become mixed with blood, or be of a dirty brown colour with an offensive odour, leading to much suffering.

The most common among the immediate causes of pleurisy is that of ‘catching cold ‘ followed by congestion and swelling of the pleural membrane. It is a disease that is not caused by germs. There will be germs of putrefaction later in the ooze of serum from the tissue. The disease may be a complication of pneumonia, or pneumonia may be a complication of pleurisy. In a few cases , the diseases may also occur in rheumatic fever, uraemia and other conditions.

At the first sign of pleurisy, the patient should observe a complete fast, abstaining from all liquid and solid foods. Nothing should be taken except plain mineral water, hot or cold, as desired. Water may have bad taste, but at least three or four glasses should be taken daily for the first few days. The quantity of water should be gradually increased to five or six or more glasses each day.

A hot chest pack should be applied two or three times a day allowing it to remain for an hour or so each time. If the fever becomes high, the packs may be changed to cold ones. If, however, the reaction is not prompt and complete, it would be advisable to use the hot packs. Heat is always helpful for relieving the sharp pain associated with pleurisy. This should be applied for half an hour twice daily. The patient should practice deep breathing during this period.

Adequate rest and abundance of fresh air are essential. In cases of dry pleurisy, further relief from pain can be obtained by strapping the chest. Heat is not used when the strapping is employed.

A hot bath at 100F with a few drops of olbas oil for one hour daily has also been found beneficial in the treatment of pleurisy.

After the acute symptoms have subsided, the patient may adopt a goat's milk diet. In this regimen, 250ml of goat's milk should be taken every two hours on the first day, every 1 1/2 hour on the second day, every hour on the third day and every three-quarters of an hour on the fourth day and onwards. The quantity of milk should not exceed four litres daily. The patient may also take one orange or tangerine (which is easier on the stomach) daily along with the milk diet. As soon as the patient has gained slightly in strength, they should undertake moderate exercise as a routine, avoiding fatigue.

Sunshine on the skin and a dry friction bath can be useful. If there is any particular disease, present along with the pleurisy whether as a causative or as a complicating condition, the same should also be given appropriate attention. Chronic pleurisy should be treated in the same manner as to the diet and the application of heat. All efforts should be made to increase the vitality, reduce toxaemia, and restore normal freedom of chest movements. Several short fasts, at regular intervals, followed by the goat's milk diet may be necessary depending on the progress for complete recovery.

There are basically two types of pneumonia, called lobar pneumonia and bronchopneumonia They, however, run into each other and are treated in the same way. The disease becomes more serious if both the lungs are affected. It is called double pneumonia in common parlance.

Most cases of pneumonia begin with a cold in the head or throat. The patient generally feels chill, shivering, difficulty in breathing and sharp pain in the chest. This may be followed by a cough with pinkish sputum which may later become brownish. The patient usually suffers from fever and headache.

In more serious cases of pneumonia, the sputum may be of rusty colour. In your children, the disease may cause delirium and convulsions. Most patients feel very miserable and sweat profusely. The temperature may rise to 105 o F and pulse may go up to 150 beats per minutes.

Pneumonia is caused by various types of germs such as streptococcus, staphylococcus and pneumococcal varieties.  At times, certain viruses are also responsible for the disease. Other causes of diseases are fungal infection, irritation by worms, inhaling foreign matter, irritant dust or noxious gases and vapours such as ammonia, nitrogen dioxide or cadmium.

The real cause of pneumonia, however, is the toxic condition of the body, especially of the lungs and air passages, resulting from wrong feeding and faulty life style. Persons with healthy tissues and strong vital force are unlikely to develop pneumonia. It is only when the system is clogged with the toxic matter and the vitality is low that the germs of pneumonia invade a person.

To begin with, the patient should be kept on a diet of raw juices for five to ten days, depending on the severity of the disease. In this regimen he should take a glass of fruit or vegetable juice diluted with warm water every two or three hours. Fruits especially kiwifruit, tangerine, orange, mosambi, apple, papaya, pineapple and grapes and vegetables like carrots, avocado & tomatoes (drunk together) may be used for juices. Avocado helps the body absorb the carotenoids from carrots and tomatoes.

After a diet of raw juices, when the fever subsides, the patient should have three or four further days on an exclusive fresh fruit diet, taking three meals a day of juicy fruits such as kiwifruit, apple, grapes, pineapple, mangoes, tangerine, orange, lemon and papaya.

Thereafter, the patient may gradually adopt a well-balanced diet of natural foods consisting of seeds and grains, vegetables and fruits with emphasis on fresh fruits and raw vegetables. The patients should be given a warm warm enema daily to cleanse the bowel during the period of raw juice therapy and all fruit diet and thereafter, when necessary.

The patient should avoid strong tea, coffee , refined foods, fried foods, white sugar, white flour and all products made from them. They should also avoid all meats as well as alcoholic beverages and smoking. To reduce temperature naturally, during the course of the fever, the procedure outlined on the Bacteria page may be followed.

Sipping of cold mineral water has also been found beneficial in the treatment of pneumonia. The patient should sip cold water at short intervals so long as the fever continues.


Certain home remedies have been found beneficial in the treatment of pneumonia. During the early acute stage of this disease, a herbal tea made from fenugreek seeds  will help the body to produce perspiration, dispel toxicity and shorten the period of fever. In can be taken up to four cups daily. The quantity should be reduced as condition improves. To improve flavour, a few drops of lemon juice can be used. During this treatment, no other food or nourishment should be taken as fasting and fenugreek will allow the body to correct these respiratory problems in a few days.

Garlic is a the ultimate remedy for pneumonia, if given in sufficient quantities. Garlic will bring down the temperature as well as the pulse and respiration within 48 hours. Garlic juice can also be applied externally to the chest with beneficial results as it is an irritant and rubefacient.

Sesame seeds are valuable in pneumonia . An infusion of the seeds, mixed with a tablespoon of flaxseeds, pinch of unrefined sea salt and a desert spoon of pure honey, should be given in the treatment of this infection. This will help remove catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial-tubes.

Chilli peppers, hot mustard, radishes, pepper, onions and garlic contain substances called ‘mucolytics’ (similar to over-the-counter expectorant cough syrups) that liquefy thick mucus that accumulates in the sinuses and breathing passages.

The pain of pneumonia can be relieved by rubbing oil of turpentine over the rib cage and wrapping warmed cotton wool over it.

When suffering a fever, the patient should avoid any supplements containing iron or zinc, iron causes great tension in a body that is fighting infection and zinc is not absorbed by the body during fever.


Try blending steamed vegetables listed with the herbs and spices listed and serving as a potage soup. Similarly blend a selection of the fruits together with nutmeg and honey to provide a tasty nutritious 'smoothie' which will provide all the nutrients required. Add organic live yoghurt to make 'smoothies' or soups creamy.

BEVERAGES (as often as possible throughout the day)
Drink at least 6 glasses of bottled mineral water with freshly squeezed lemon juice per day.

During fever pineapple juice can prevent dehydration.

The juice of radishes blended with carrot juice is a wonderful aid in cleansing and in healing the mucous membrane of the digestive system as well as of the respiratory organs.

Herbal juices that can relieve symptoms are: aloe vera juice, ginger ale, nasturtium juice (freshly pressed)

Raw Juice Therapy can successfully treat pneumonia and pleurisy. The best organic natural foods to juice and consume immediately are: apple, apricot, carrot, beetroot, cranberry juice, grapes, daikon, lemon, lime, mosambi, onion, orange, papaya, peach, pineapple, radish, spinach, strawberry, tangerine and tomato.

Drink plenty of tea, especially green tea. Caffeine helps to dilate the bronchial airways. Avoid coffee though as it causes many adverse side effects. See the Coffee Dangers page.

Other teas that are beneficial for lung disorders are: chamomile tea, common stinging nettle tea, fenugreek seed, liquorice tea, mullein oil tea, peppermint tea, pine needle tea, rosehip tea

A tea made with daikon, shittake mushrooms and kombu seaweed can be used to lower fever and fight infection.

FISH (4 times a week)
anchovies, bloater fish, carp, eel, halibut, herring, hilsa fish, kipper, mackerel, octopus, pilchards, salmon, sardines, sea bass, shellfish, sprats, squid, swordfish, trout, tuna (fresh only), turbot, whitebait

NOTE: Drinking green tea at the same time as consuming deep sea fish can reduce the absorption of metals such as mercury that can be sometimes found in these fish.

DAIRY (1 x egg 3 times a week, yoghurt daily)
eggs, live probiotic yoghurt

WHOLE GRAINS (at least 1 whole grain everyday)
amaranth, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, rye, teff

VEGETABLES (choose at least 3 different colours per day, if diet is poor juice them)
alfalfa, ashitaba, bell peppers (
all colours), chilli peppers, daikon, garlic, ginger, carrots, fenugreek, kelp, kombu seaweed, lettuce, mustard, okra, onion, celery, parsnips, peas, radishes, seaweed, soybeans, spinach, tomatoes, watercress

LEGUMES (3 times a week)
black beans, black-eyed peas, broad beans, butter beans, chickpeas, legumes, lentils, navy beans, peas, pinto bean, red kidney beans, soya beans, winged beans

FRUIT (choose at least 3 different colours per day, if diet is poor juice them)
apples, apricot, ash gourd, berries, cherries, elderberries, grapes, kiwifruit, lemon, lime, mosambi, orange, papaya, peaches, pomegranate juice, raisins, soursop, tangerines

almonds, coconut

SEEDS (as teas, snacks or added to meals)
seed teas, flaxseeds, fenugreek, grape seeds, poppy, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, watermelon

HERBS (as teas or added to meals)
basil, burdock root, common stinging nettles, comfrey, dandelion, echinacea, elecampane, ginkgo biloba, huang lian, liquorice, mullien, noni plant, oregano, pan pien lien, passion flower, pau d'arco, periwinkle, rosemary, saffron, slippery elm, thyme, yerba santa

SPICES (in teas or added to meals daily)
black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, sea salt
(pure unrefined), turmeric

OILS (used for cooking or salad dressings)
coconut, flaxseed, olive, rapeseed, sesame

DERIVATIVES (consume as often as desired)
apple cider vinegar, brine pickles, honey, kimchi, micro diet sprouts, miso, propolis, sauerkraut, tofu

garlic (juice applied to the chest), comfrey (hot or cold fomentation compress) mint (vapours), eucalyptus (vapours)

NOTE: consume natural foods containing carotenes with olive oil, nuts, avocado or other healthy fat rich foods.


NOTE: Motherwort may be habit forming.

CAUTION: Many herbs are powerful and can react with medications. Always check before taking at the same time as any drugs.

NOTE: Some nutritional yeasts, especially brewer’s yeast, can  also interact with medications. Those who are on Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor antidepressants (MAOIs) medication are especially at risk. It is also best avoided by those carrying the herpes virus as it can induce a attack.

When suffering with pleurisy or any lung disorder avoid the following:

  • Air pollution

  • Alcohol

  • Aspartame

  • Bananas

  • Dust mites

  • Egg yolks

  • Ginseng

  • Homogenised or non-organic dairy products from non-grass fed cattle

  • Meat

  • Salt

  • Shellfish

  • Stress

  • Sugar

  • Table salt (use Himalayan pink crystals or unrefined sea salt)

  • Tobacco smoke

  • White flour

  • White rice

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Nat H Hawes SNHS Dip (Advanced and Sports nutrition) is a qualified nutritional and sports therapist and author of the new book, Nature Cures, who has been researching natural foods and their health benefits since 2003. Click here to see what others think of the new book.

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DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not intended to diagnose medical problems, prescribe remedies for illness, or treat disease. Its intention is solely educational. If you are in any doubt about your health, please consult your medical or health professional.




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