mucus disgust
Your body, even when it is healthy, produces about 1 to 1.5 liters of mucus every day. Though it's unlikely you've noticed, the majority of your mucus trickles down the back of your throat, while some is blown out through your nose or coughed up. While mucus has important functions within your body, you are most likely to notice it only because you are producing more of it or it is showing up in a consistency or color that commands your attention.

Even though it can be annoying to fill tissue after tissue with globs of snot and gooey discharge when you have a cold or sinus infection, your body needs mucus. Believe it or not, mucus serves a specific purpose and you need a certain amount of it to be healthy. Furthermore, the color and consistency of your mucus is part of the way your body lets you know what's going on inside. Here's what you need to know about mucus.

Mucus Plays a Vital Role Within Your Body

Your body is filled with mucus-producing tissue. More specifically, mucus is naturally occurring in the following areas of your body:
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Lungs
  • Mouth
  • Nose
  • Sinuses
  • Throat
In these sensitive areas, mucus provides a moist, protective layer to prevent your tissues from drying out and cracking. Mucus also plays an important role in trapping allergens, bacteria, dust and other unwanted substances, preventing them further entry into your body. For that reason, some mucus is sticky and thick, specially designed to trap foreign invaders. Beyond just being oozing goo, mucus is essential to your body's well-being because it contains:1
  • Antibodies that help your body fight off bacteria and viruses
  • Enzymes that kill the invaders it traps
  • Proteins that make your mucus inhospitable to germs
"Mucus is incredibly important for our bodies," explains Dr. Michael Johns III, director of the University of Southern California's voice center and professor of clinical otolaryngology. "It is the oil in the engine. Without mucus, the engine seizes."2 Mucus works with your cilia, tiny hairs that line your airways. Once your mucus traps offending particles, your cilia dispense with the mucus and unwanted particles by sending them to your throat to be coughed up or swallowed, or to your nose to be blown out.

What Your Mucus May Be Trying to Tell You

When the weather gets cooler, and particularly when cold and flu season takes root, your nose may begin to discharge mucus at alarming rates. Some of it may gather at the back of your throat, or it may settle into your lungs. While the color of your mucus is rarely a sufficient basis for a medical diagnosis, it can assist you toward having a better understanding of what might be going on inside your body.

For certain, specific colors of mucus can help you determine if the condition you're dealing with may be treatable at home or will require a visit to your doctor. Your body is capable of producing six basic colors of mucus that medical experts attach to probable medical conditions as follows:3,4
mucus chart
Dr. Scott Stringer, professor and chairman of the department of otolaryngology and communicative sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, suggests mucus that is a darker shade of yellow could be a serious cause for concern:5
"We breathe in mold all the time and most people will clear it right down their throat, but if you are allergic, it will stick, causing swelling in your nasal passages. The spores grow and you lose moisture in the nose, which is what causes the very unusual and persistent color and texture of the mucus."
The type of mucus to which Stringer refers is a dark yellow color with a consistency similar to peanut butter. The goldish color and sticky consistency may be a sign of fungal sinusitis, a type of infection caused when mold spores become trapped in your nose. Due to its serious nature, if you have this type of mucus, reach out for medical assistance as soon as possible.

Home Remedies to Help You Cope With Too Much Mucus

Generally speaking, white, yellow or green mucus can be treated at home. Below are some tips to help you cope when your body produces an overabundance of white, yellow or green mucus:6
  • Apply essential oils: Essential oils such as eucalyptus oil or peppermint oil are useful to promote relaxation and improved breathing. Apply them topically to your chest, nose or feet. Always dilute these oils in a carrier oil such as coconut oil before applying them to your skin. You can also use these oils with steam inhalation or diffuse them into the air
  • Exercise gently: You may find that walking or other gentle movement, assuming you are feeling up to it, will help you loosen and cough up excess mucus
  • Get good quality sleep: Sleep helps your body heal and restore and is an important aspect of helping your immune system fight back against illness
  • Stay hydrated: Dehydration can worsen your condition and make it harder for your body to cough up and eliminate mucus
  • Use a humidifier: Humidifiers add moisture to the air, which may ease your breathing and help loosen up mucus that has lodged at the back of your throat or settled into your chest. If you get frequent nosebleeds, particularly during winter, it may be that the air in your home is simply too dry
While your doctor may recommend taking an over-the-counter expectorant, such as guaifenesin, to help thin your mucus and make it easier to cough up, there are other nondrug options. You may actually get better results with clove bud oil. Clove bud oil is well-known for its oral health benefits.

It has a variety of uses, including its ability to ease respiratory problems, such as colds, coughs and sinusitis, as well as asthma and tuberculosis. Simply chewing on a clove bud is said to help sore throats, and it has been approved as a dental anesthetic mouthwash and gargle.

How to Make Your Own Clove Bud Oil

Clove bud essential oil is most often produced through steam distillation. You can, however, extract oil from clove buds at home. Here's an easy-to-follow guide:7

What You'll Need to Make 1 Ounce of Clove Oil
  • 5 to 10 fresh clove buds, crushed
  • A dark, sanitized glass jar, preferably with a dropper
  • Organic extra virgin or virgin olive oil
  • Strainer (cheesecloth or coffee filter)
  • Glass container with spout
  1. Place the crushed cloves in the jar
  2. Fill the jar with olive oil to a level that is about 1 inch above the crushed cloves
  3. Seal the jar tightly and shake it three to four times to ensure the cloves and olive oil are mixed together
  4. Set the jar aside for 10 to 14 days in a cool, dark place to allow the oil to extract the chemical properties of the cloves
  5. Strain the oil into a glass container with a spout to remove any sediment. (Multiple strainings will ensure all particles are removed)
  6. Dispose of the cloves; they cannot be reused
  7. Pour the strained mixture back into the original jar and keep the lid closed tightly
  8. When stored properly, the oil will last four to five years. The color of the oil may darken over time
How to Apply:
  • Use two drops of clove bud oil in steam inhalation to loosen and expel mucus
  • Add two drops of clove bud oil to your decongesting ointment or gel and rub onto your chest, back and throat
  • Place two drops of clove bud oil into a cup of warm water and use as a mouth rinse or gargle

Use a Neti Pot to Help Discharge Mucus and Moisturize Your Sinuses

Another great alternative to dealing with a stuffy nose or dry sinuses is nasal irrigation. If the thought of putting water up your nose is unpleasant, be assured you have total control over this slightly awkward process, which is more beneficial than you might initially think. Several options exist for nasal irrigation, including:
  • Bulb syringe
  • Neti pot, which is a small teapot-shaped device
  • Squeeze bottle
Each of these methods is simple and can be completed in just a few minutes. All three operate according to the same basic principle: You use the device to shoot a salt-water solution (also known as saline) up one nostril at a time to help loosen up and remove any mucus residing in your nasal cavity. As the water goes up one side of your nose, it comes out the other. After flushing one nostril, you switch sides and irrigate the other.

Prepare your saline by adding a small amount of sea salt to either distilled, sterile or previously boiled and cooled water. Never use tap water for nasal irrigation! Be sure to clean your irrigation device with soap and water after each use.

Because your nose needs a certain amount of mucus (the clear kind) to be healthy, it's important you moderate your use of nasal irrigation. Save it for only when your sinuses are clogged or irritated, and take breaks from flushing your nose when you begin to feel better. Nasal irrigation can help reduce allergy-related stuffiness, too.

Strengthening Your Immune System Will Cut Your Risk of Illness

You can prevent colds, coughs, sinus infections and sore throats - and recover from them more quickly - by taking steps today to strengthen your immune system. Begin by overhauling your diet, avoiding sugar, optimizing your vitamin D level, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and managing your stress. As unappreciated as it may be, practicing effective handwashing is still the No. 1 way to prevent the spread of contagious disease.

Detailed instructions that will help set you on the right path to optimal health can be found in my nutrition plan, which is centered around the intake of real food. Importantly, if you feel yourself coming down with a cold or flu, avoid all sugar, grains, artificial sweeteners and processed foods. Rather than help your body heal, those items will fuel the illness and potentially prolong it.

Sugar is particularly damaging to your immune system. When your body is fighting infection, your immune system needs a boost, not further suppression. Some of the foods that help strengthen your immune system, as well as help fight strep throat, sore throat and coughs, are as follows:
immune system foods
Applying Hydrogen Peroxide to Your Ears Can Help Stop a Cold or Sore Throat

If you have never heard of or tried using hydrogen peroxide to stave off a cold or sore throat, you may be missing out on one of the easiest and most economical home remedies. At the first sign of cold symptoms, which often involves a tickle in your throat, pour a capful of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide into each ear. Start by lying on your side and applying the solution to your first ear.

Upon pouring the solution into your ear canal, you will hear and feel the bubbling. This is a normal reaction, which may or may not involve a body-wide chill sensation and a slight stinging in your ear canal. Wait for most of the bubbling to subside (about 5 to 10 minutes), then drain the fluid onto a tissue. Turn over and repeat with the other ear. Do not use this technique if you believe you have an ear infection and the ear drum may have ruptured or opened.

Given the low cost of a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, this is a remarkably inexpensive way to curtail colds, flu, respiratory infections and sore throats. For best results, treat your ears as soon as possible at the first sign of illness. Often one application does the trick. If not, repeat the treatment daily until your symptoms subside.

Sources and references here.