The 6 Best Cough Drops of 2021

Soothe your throat with these dietician-recommended options

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Cough Drops

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First Look

Best Overall: Zand at Amazon

"These lozenges are gluten free, non-GMO and only contain one gram of sugar per lozenge."

Best Sugar-Free: Ricola at

"Ricola’s lemon mint herb throat drops combine refreshing lemon and mint with soothing menthol."

Best Tasting: Wedderspoon at Amazon

"Wedderspoon offers five unique flavors of their manuka honey drops."

Best for Sore Throats: Cepacol Extra Strength Sore Throat at Amazon

"One lozenge provides the maximum strength numbing medication without a prescription."

Best for Kids: Lolleez at Amazon

"It works to temporarily relieve throat swelling and irritation with natural, organic fruit pectin."

Best Organic: Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat at Amazon

"Customers can choose from three different flavors, all with their unique medicinal blends and properties."

Sore throats can be caused by different viruses, allergies, or bacteria, and while the medical treatment for the ailment will vary, many times the counter remedies like cough drops and lozenges can help alleviate symptoms. Some cough drops work to numb or soothe the throat and others have additional vitamins, minerals and herbs added to them to help shorten the duration of the illness. 

While there's no single vitamin or supplement that can take the place of hand hygiene, sleep, adequate water, and a healthy diet, there are some herbs, plants, vitamins, and minerals that can be taken to support the immune system. Many of the following cough drops contain ingredients like zinc, elderberry, echinacea, and vitamin C. These ingredients have their own unique medicinal properties. Not all cough drops are created equal, so you'll want to consider taste, sugar content, ingredients, and of course, efficacy. Cough drops are safe for general use; however, it is important to discuss symptoms with your healthcare provider and seek medical help for illness.

Best Overall: Zand

Zand Herbalozenge Menthol
Courtesy of iherb.

Zand’s Herbalozenge has been third party tested by Consumer Labs and contains five milligrams of zinc gluconate per lozenge. Zand also contains a blend of licorice and eucalyptus, herbs known to soothe the throat and help with cold symptoms. These lozenges are gluten free, non-GMO and only contain one gram of sugar per lozenge. Studies show that supplementing with zinc, specifically in lozenge form, can reduce cold symptoms such as muscle aches, runny nose, congestion, and cough. It's important to note that excessive intake of zinc can lead to copper deficiency so frequent use of lozenges should be limited to a few days. In addition to reducing symptoms, zinc supplementation has been shown to shorten the duration of colds.

Best Sugar-Free: Ricola

Ricola Lemon Mint
Courtesy of Riteaid.

Looking for a way to soothe your throat without added sugar or calories? Ricola’s lemon mint herb throat drops combine refreshing lemon and mint with soothing menthol, flavored by Ricola's delicious blend of Swiss alpine herbs in a sugar-free lozenge that is soothing, effective, and pleasant. Adults and children over six are instructed to dissolve three drops, one at a time for relief from a sore mouth or throat. Drops can be consumed every two hours or as instructed by a physician.

Best Tasting: Wedderspoon

Wedderspoon offers five unique flavors of their manuka honey drops. The ingredients in these drops are Certified Organic and are made without gluten, dairy, or nuts. Wedderspoon puts an emphasis on quality, healthy ingredients. The medicinal Manuka Honey is raw, unpasteurized, EcoCert Certified Organic, non-GMO Project Verified and is sourced, packed, and labeled in New Zealand for genuine, unadulterated quality. Although these drops are made without common allergens, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives; there is a reason they taste so delicious. One drop alone contains four grams of sugar which is about one teaspoons worth of sugar. Be mindful with the amount of drops consumed in a day, it might be best to alternate between these drops and herbal, throat soothing teas.

Best for Sore Throats: Cepacol Extra Strength Sore Throat

Cepacol’s Extra Strength Sore Throat lozenges are our top pick for painful, persistent sore throats. The active ingredients in these lozenges are Benzocaine and Menthol. Benzocaine is a numbing medication and Menthol provides a cooling sensation to the throat. One lozenge provides the maximum strength numbing medication without a prescription. Consumers can choose between four different flavors and will find this product at many retailers.

Best for Kids: Lolleez

When it comes to cough drops for kids, choosing a product in the form of a lollipop, spray, or syrup is best in order to prevent choking. Lolleez Sore Throat Soothing Pops for Kids are made with organic ingredients, are non-GMO, dairy free, nut free, and gluten free. Lolleez works to temporarily relieve throat swelling and irritation with natural, organic fruit pectin. Created by a mom of four, Lolleez reduces the risk of choking and helps “eez” parents' minds by designing a throat lozenge that is flat and on a stick. Flavors come in watermelon, strawberry, and orange mango. These pops are recommended for children ages three and older.

Best Organic: Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat

Traditional Medicinals is an herbalist-formulated brand that aims to provide safe, healing products. These throat drops are USDA organic and customers can choose from three different flavors, all with their unique medicinal blends and properties. Traditional Medicinals is a Certified B Corporation and is part of Green America’s Green Business Network of socially and environmentally responsible businesses, so you can feel good about where your dollar is going as you start to feel better. There is sugar listed as an ingredient; however, the bag does not state how many grams of sugar are in each lozenge.

Final Verdict

When picking a product, one of the most important criteria to consider is purity, potency, and quality. For this reason, Zand is a great pick. Lab verified, this product contains what is actually listed on the bottle and is free of common allergens and harmful additives. In addition to providing relief, these lozenges may also help shorten the duration of the cold. 

What to Look for in Cough Drops

Flavors: Cough drops vary in strength, flavors, and ingredients; there is a type of cough drop for everyone. If sticking to a low sugar diet is important, be sure to check the grams of sugar in one serving. For those looking for organic options with clean ingredients, Traditional Medicinals, Wedderspoon, and Lolleeze are all wonderful options. 

Usage: Cough drops and throat lozenges may help alleviate symptoms, however, if they persist, it is important to speak with your doctor. Some cough drops may claim to help shorten the duration of colds. The research is mixed on this claim. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, adequate hydration, sleep, and good hygiene is critical for a healthy immune system.

Ingredients: Not all supplements or cold products are created equal, look for certifications from independent, third-party testing companies such as, NSF International, and U.S. Pharmacopeia. These organizations provide quality testing and allow products that pass their tests to display a seal of quality assurance that indicates the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants. It is also important to check the ingredient list for potential allergens.

Why Trust Verywell Health

As a Registered Dietitian, Sydney Greene takes supplement recommendations seriously. Every product has been researched and vetted by her against clinical research, product reviews, and third-party testing websites. These are products she would not only feel comfortable recommending to her clients but she would take them herself if needed.

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Article Sources
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    1. Hemilä J, Haukka J, Alho M, Vahtera J, Kivimäki M. Zinc acetate lozenges for the treatment of the common cold: a randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open. 2020;10:e031662. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031662