Using Natural Remedies for Coughs

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A cough is a reflex that helps clear phlegm and other irritants from your throat and airways. In this way, it can be beneficial—but that doesn't mean it's not bothersome. A number of over-the-counter medicines can help, but natural cough remedies have been used for many years to calm this symptom and provide relief, some of which you may find useful as well.

Note: In many cases, coughing occurs as a symptom of a short-term illness, such as the common coldbronchitis, or the flu. Chronic coughing, on the other hand, may be caused by asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or a digestive disorders like acid reflux.

Remember that, in some cases, self-treating with natural cough remedies or medications without seeking a medical evaluation can allow your condition to worsen.

Honey

Not only does honey make a tasty addition to drinks and desserts, but it is also a time-honored remedy for sore throats. It's thick consistency coats your throat, soothing it immediately.

This is the main reason it is so beneficial for those suffering from a cough. According to one study, it can relieve night-time coughs more effectively than a placebo.

Try adding two teaspoons of honey and a squeeze of lemon to warm water or herbal tea. You can also just take a spoonful of honey on its own.

Children younger than a year old should never be given honey because of the risk of botulism.

Ginger

Ginger, a common ingredient in most kitchens, is loaded with anti-inflammatory and antitussive (cough suppressant) properties that help relieve coughs. This aromatic spice breaks down and removes mucus from the lungs, thereby reducing coughing.

One study found that when put in a nebulizer, purified ginger helped relax people's airways and reduce coughing, specifically dry coughs associated with asthma.

You can make ginger tea at home by peeling and thinly slicing one piece of ginger and adding it to three cups of boiling water. Boil for about 10 minutes, strain, and enjoy it with a little honey and a slice of lemon.

Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) has been used for thousands of years to treat coughing and sore throat. Like many demulcent herbs, marshmallow root may help ease dry coughs.

Research suggests that marshmallow root can help relieve coughing. One study showed that marshmallow root lozenges and syrup successfully relieved dry cough, usually within 10 minutes.

Demulcent herbs help soothe inflamed tissues by forming a gel-like film over mucus membranes, protecting them from further irritation. Other demulcent herbs known to help soothe a cough include licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and slippery elm (Ulmus rubra).

Unlike most other herbs where you would use hot water, marshmallow root is best prepared using cold water. Simply soak a tablespoon of the shredded, dried root (not powdered) in two cups of cold water. Let it sit overnight or for at least four hours in the refrigerator. Strain, then sip your tea as needed.

Thyme

People have used thyme (Thymus vulgaris) to relieve dry irritating coughs for centuries. The herb’s leaves contain cough-calming compounds called flavonoids that work to lessen inflammation and relax the throat muscles involved in coughing.

Some research suggests that using thyme, alone or in combination with other herbs, reduces coughing. Specifically, a number of studies show that the combination of thyme, primrose (Oenothera biennis), and English ivy (Hedera helix) reduces the frequency and severity of coughs as well as other symptoms of acute bronchitis.

You can make a soothing thyme tea by steeping 2 teaspoons of crushed thyme leaves in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. You can drink it as is or, to make it even more effective (and tastier), add some honey.

A Word From Verywell

Although these natural remedies may give you some immediate relief, the only way to truly treat a cough is to fix the underlying cause. Because coughing is a symptom of many different illnesses and conditions, you should always contact your healthcare provider if your cough concerns you.

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