Controlled coughing from the lungs, lying down to drain the mucus from the lungs and lightly tapping the chest and back can all help to clear phlegm from the lungs, according to WebMD. Breathing steam and running a humidifier moisten the air and loosen mucus, says Reader's Digest Best Health.
Drinking plenty of water and eating spicy food can help thin mucus out, allowing it to come up more easily when a patient coughs, reports Reader's Digest Best Health. Caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating, so they should be avoided as much as possible. Milk products contain the protein lactalbumin, which helps stimulate mucus production.
Other natural options include apple cider vinegar, ginger and cayenne pepper, says Earth Clinic. Apple cider vinegar helps keep the body alkaline, preventing the production of excessive mucus. The capsaicin in cayenne pepper thins mucus out, preventing it from building up in the lungs. Ginger is a natural decongestant and antihistamine that dries out excess mucus and helps trigger bodily functions that remove it from the lungs.
Excess mucus in the lungs can be caused by COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, states WebMD. It is also a symptom of bronchitis. It can lead to coughing and obstruct airways or prevent breathing.