Natural Cough Remedies
How to stop a cough? Use natural cough remedies, such as herbs, homeopathy, aromatherapy, and nutritional supplements.
Coughing, like sneezing, is a normal response of the body's immune system to expel irritants. Quick, sudden bursts of air and fluids from the respiratory tract help expel
irritants, such as pollen, dust, chemicals, and foreign bodies, from the airway.
We all cough sometimes, and since it is our body's way to get rid of irritants, we should not suppress a cough too much. The most important thing is to find out
and address the underlying reason that is causing the cough. For example, if the cough is caused by an infection, we should stimulate our immune system to fight
the bacteria or virus causing the infection. If the cough is allergy-related, then the allergen should be removed. By not suppressing the cough, we allow
the body to expel the irritant causing the cough. At the same time, though, we can use natural cough remedies to soothe the cough so that we
feel a bit more comfortable.
In most cases, a cough usually goes away in a week or so. If a cough lasts more than two weeks, or if your cough is over-productive (with mucus or blood), then you
should see a doctor immediately. Chronic cough can be caused by more serious conditions, such as
acid reflux, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, or even
lung cancer. Also, sometimes chronic cough is caused by some medications, such as some blood pressure medicines.
Causes of Wet and Dry Coughs
Wet, productive coughs bring up mucus, while dry, nonproductive, hacking coughs do not.
Wet coughs are mostly caused by colds, flu, bronchial infections, sinus congestion,
asthma, or bronchitis.
Dry coughs may be caused by smoking, asthma, dust, foreign matter, or some irritants in the throat due to, say, pollution.
Natural Cough Remedies - Herbs
Regardless of the cause of your cough, herbs are effective natural cough remedies that can provide some relief. Useful herbs for cough include:
- Licorice: Licorice soothes mucous membranes, enhances immune functions, and is effective in relieving coughs. If you have a cough, try drinking licorice tea (made with
one teaspoon of dried root per cup of boiling water). Licorice and its extracts are safe for normal use in moderate amounts (up to about three cups of tea a day.) However,
if you have high blood pressure, do not use this herb.
- Marshmallow: Marshmallow roots contain mucilage, and are useful for relieving cough (especially dry cough) and sore throat. You can make a tea with two
teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water.
- Mullein: Like marshmallow, mullein contains throat-soothing mucilage. It promotes the discharge of mucus and also has anti-inflammatory effects for
the respiratory tract. You may want to take the capsule or the tincture of this herb since the herb itself is rather bitter.
- Slippery elm: The bark of slippery elm contains large quantities of a mucilage that acts as an effective throat soother and cough suppressant.
You can use the dried herb to make a tea.
- Cherry bark: Cherry bark is effective in reducing wet coughs. You can use the capsule or the tincture of this herb.
Natural Cough Remedies - Homeopathy
Quite a few homeopathic remedies are available as natural cough remedies. Choose a remedy that most closely matches your symptoms. Use a lower potency (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X,
or 30C). Follow the instructions for use and dosage printed on the label.
- Antimonium tartaricum: This remedy is for a congested, wet cough that produces a rattling noise in the chest. The person produces little or
no phlegm and breathing is sometimes painful.
- Bryonia: This remedy is for a dry cough that has gone to the chest, causing stitching pain in the throat or the chest, and that is
worse at night.
- Coccus cacti: This remedy is for a cough that produces stringy mucus, causing the person a constant urge to clear his throat.
- Drosera: This remedy is for a dry, barking cough that may end in gagging. Lying down makes the person feel worse.
- Hepar sulphuris: This remedy is for a rattling, barking, loose cough that brings up yellow mucus. The cough usually comes on after the
person is being exposed to dry, cold air.
- Phosphorous: This remedy is for a dry, tickling cough that is made worse by talking, laughing, and exposure to cold air. This remedy is often used
for loss of the voice and laryngitis.
- Pulsatilla: This remedy is for a cough with yellow or green phlegm that is drier in the evening and looser in the morning,
worse in a stuffy room or when the person is lying down.
- Rumex crispus: This remedy is for a dry, hacking cough that begins when a person lies down. It is triggered by a tickle in the pit of the
throat. The cough is worse in cold air.
- Spongia tosta: This remedy is for a dry, barking cough. The person may wake up feeling suffocated, and may feel better with warm foods or
drinks. Talking aggravates the cough, and so does exposure to cold air and smoke. This remedy is often helpful during croup and asthma.
Natural Cough Remedies - Aromatherapy
The following essential oils are very effective in draining congestion and reducing irritation:
You can add a few drops of any of these oils to a hot bath, or a steam inhalation. Put 2 to 3 drops of any of these oils in a bowl of boiling water, drape a towel
over your head (like a tent), close your eyes, relax, and inhale the steam from the hot water for about 5 minutes.
In addition, you can massage over the back and the chest with:
- Tea Tree
- 3 drops of Eucalypus
- 2 drops of Thyme
- Diluted in one teaspoon of carrier oil (e.g. almond oil, jojoba oil, etc.)
Other Natural Cough Remedies
Here are some other natural cough remedies that you may want to try:
Foods to avoid if you have a cough:
Avoid foods that promote mucus production, such as:
- Apple Cider Vinegar: In half a cup of honey, add 3-4 tablespoons of ACV. Mix well. Take one tablespoon before going to bed and
throughout the day as needed.
- Chicken Soup: Homemade chicken soup can thin mucus. Add extra ginger or garlic for immune support.
- Barley Soup: Hot barley soup can reduce phlegm.
- Onion Broth: Onions have anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce congestion. Make an onion broth by boiling an onion for about 15 minutes.
Strain and drink the broth several times a day.
- Dairy products
- Fried foods
Causes of Sore Throat
Sore Throat Home Remedies
Natural Home Remedies for Colds
Natural Flu Remedies
Natural Laryngitis Treatment
Natural Asthma Remedies
Natural Bronchitis Home Remedies
Balch and Stengler, Prescription for Natural Cures, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004).
Duke, J.A. The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook. (St. Martin's Paperbacks, 2002).
Worwood, V.A. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. (New World Library, 1991).
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