For some of us, the colder months and changing seasons fills us with trepidation! After all this is the time when many of us are laid low with seasonal allergies and respiratory disorders that take a toll on our health and make us less productive as well so we need to have home remedies for cough. Coughs are particularly common during this time and some of them tend to be annoyingly persistent and resistant to OTC medication.
However, what do work when it comes to coughs, are natural home remedies that have been used by our moms and grandmothers for years. In fact, many scientific studies have shown that natural remedies like honey are just as good, if not better than combinations of antihistamines, decongestants, antitussives and expectorants that often have a lot of unpleasant side effects.
These cough medicines are especially harmful for children. In fact, children under six are strongly advised against being administered these medicines as they have been linked to cardiac arrhythmias, hallucinations and depressed levels of consciousness and encephalopathy.
So protect yourself and your family this season with these harmless yet super-effective cough remedies.
What is coughing?
Coughing is the body’s reflex action in reaction to some kind of irritation or blockage in your airways. Coughing helps remove excess mucous secretions and foreign bodies. While coughing may be a protective mechanism, persistent coughing can be very disturbing. It can affect your ability to have a good night’s sleep, to work and to eat.
Acute coughs are those that are caused by a viral upper respiratory tract infection and tend to go away on their own. Chronic coughs are those that last for eight weeks or more.
You should definitely see a doctor is your cough lasts for more than three days and is accompanied with smelly green or yellow phlegm, shivering, fever over 102 F that lasts for more than three days, dehydration and fatigue. Call your doc and preferably check yourself into ER if you notice blood while coughing and are having difficulty breathing.
When it comes to home remedies for cough, honey is quite the star! In fact, it is so effective that even the World Health Organization considers it a suitable treatment for cough, especially in children. Honey is made up of carbohydrates, free amino acids, vitamins, flavonoids and antioxidants. It has anti-bacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, the antimicrobial effect of honey has been proved in laboratory studies where it has been sown to be effective against various kinds of common bacteria. Its ability to fight bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus faecalis found in the upper respiratory tract makes it so effective in the fight against cough. Besides this, the sweetness of honey encourages us to salivate more and that soothes the pharynx and larynx and reduces cough.
In a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, that sought to see the Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents, parents rated honey most favorably for symptomatic relief of their child’s nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty due to upper respiratory tract infection. Therefore, the study states, honey may be a preferable treatment for the cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infection.
Sip on this honey tea and find relief from your racking cough. All you need to do is mix two teaspoons of honey with warm water and drink it three to four times a day. To make this tea even more potent, add some ginger juice that also has cough soothing properties.
Like honey, ginger is another cough remedy that has been in use across cultures for many centuries. Often used with honey to pack a potent punch, ginger is particularly helpful in easing breathing and soothing a dry or asthmatic cough. The anti-inflammatory properties work on the inflamed airways and help breathing. Studies have shown that these anti-inflammatory compounds relax membranes in the airways and reduce the urge to cough.
Make a ginger cough potion by boiling a few slices or a chunk of crushed fresh ginger in water. You need to let it steep in water for some time before it is ready for drinking. To make this more effective and palatable, add some honey and lemon juice.
We cannot stress on this enough! Drink up and stay hydrated to get relief from your throat irritation and cough. Particularly helpful for a dry cough, warm water and nourishing liquids like herbal teas, broths, black tea and warm fruit juices will all make you feel better. Even research suggests that drinking warm liquids is especially helpful for symptoms like a cough, runny nose, sore throat and sneezing. You will get instant relief and the effect will last for a while. The best part is that you can drink plenty of these liquids without fear of side effects.
Taking steam for blocked or inflamed airways is a remedy that doctors always prescribe to patients with respiratory ailments. While it may seem a little tedious, it does work wonders. This treatment is especially helpful for a wet cough and may help expel some of the mucous and phlegm that is bogging you down. You could inhale steam either by filling a bucket with hot water in a shower cubicle so that it fills up with steam. Stay in this steamy atmosphere for a few minutes till you feel your symptoms receding. Alternatively, you could fill a bowl with steaming water, cover your head with a towel and inhale deeply for five minutes. This is also easily done with an electric steamer that will keep supplying you with a steady stream of steam. Add a few drops of menthol, or eucalyptus oil for more relief. Do take breaks if you feel the steam is too hot and feels uncomfortable.
Those with chest congestion could also use a cool-mist humidifier or steam vaporizer in their room for constant relief.
A cough is often accompanied by a sore throat especially in the case of a wet cough and, in such cases, salt water gargling really works wonders. Salt water acts as an antibacterial agent, soothes throat irritation, and reduces the phlegm at the back of the throat that causes an urge to cough. Do note that swallowing salt water could make you vomit, so be careful.
Add half a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. Ensure that it is not too hot or it will burn your throat. Gargle and then allow the water to sit at the back of your throat for a few minutes before you spit it out. Repeat this a number of time throughout the day for best results.
Yes, you read right! Pineapples have an enzyme called bromelain that acts as an expectorant and helps expel mucus and phlegm. This is helpful if you are suffering from a wet cough. The core of the fruit has the most bromelain. Drink pineapple juice a number of times a day for relief. Bromelain supplements are also available; however, do consult your doc before taking them. Also note that some people can be allergic to bromelain and this enzyme is contraindicated for those who are on blood thinning medication and certain kinds of antibiotics.
Drink this pineapple juice concoction when you are laid low. Take a cup of pineapple juice, mix it with some honey, salt and pepper and drink it thrice a day.
Thyme is useful not just to add flavour to your dishes but acts as a great remedy for coughs, bronchitis and sore throat among its many uses. Studies have found that thyme is more effective in relieving coughs in people with bronchitis than a placebo syrup. Thyme is rich in antioxidants and in compounds called flavonoids that relax and soothe inflamed airways and membranes leading to less coughing.
Make a thyme tea by boiling 2 teaspoons of crushed thyme leaves in a cup of water. Allow to steep for a bit before drinking.
Lemon is useful for coughs in two ways. For one, it acts as a cough suppressant and two; the vitamin C ups your immunity and protects you from coughs in the first place. Lemons are also great expectorants and will help you expel phlegm.
To suppress a cough sprinkle a little black pepper and salt in a slice of lemon and suck it!
You could also add some lemon juice to hot water and honey and drink it as a tea.
Oregano extract and essential oils have been used in many cultures to treat a cough, colds, sore throats and bronchitis. Studies have shown that the thymol and carvacrol in Oregano oil have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Add three to four drop of oregano oil to a tablespoon of water and drink it. Take this three to four times a day.
You could also use it as a chest rub to clear your lungs and bronchial passages. Mix a few drops in carrier oil like olive oil and rub on your chest and back. You could also add a few drops in your vaporiser or steamer and inhale for best results.
Black pepper has long been used in Ayurvedic, Chinese and New England folk medicine. Pepper works by stimulating circulation and gets the mucus flowing, so this is best for a wet cough. This chest decongesting remedy is most effective when taken with honey.
Mix a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper with two tablespoons of honey and top with boiling water. Let it steep for 15 minutes before you strain and drink it. Sip slowly if you find the heat too much to take.
Ayurveda says that you should mix 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper with ghee and have it on a full stomach. The heat of the pepper will ease congestion. Have this a few times a day.
This favorite Indian kitchen remedy is an Ayurvedic staple and has been administered to countless sufferers of coughs, often with much protestation! However, as unpalatable as it may be, it is super effective. The curcumin in turmeric is an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory that works on the respiratory infection while milk helps expectorate the phlegm and soothes the airways.
Mix half a teaspoon of turmeric powder in warm milk or blend together some fresh turmeric root, a few garlic pods or a piece of ginger with warm milk and drink it up. Ginger and garlic relieve chest congestion. Mix in some honey to the drink to make it easier to drink and add to its potency.
Giloy or Tinospora Cordifolia is an amamzing Ayurvedic herb that has a wide range of uses for many diseases. It is often prescribed by Ayurvedic practioners to treat respiratory illnesses and cough and cold. The stem of Giloy contains the most effective compounds and can be had as a juice, powder or capsules. Giloy strengthens your immunity and balance your doshas. It is an anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory that is very helpful for coughs caused by allergies. Take two tablespoons of Giloy juice with water in the morning every day to treat a chronic cough.
Mulethi is prescribed by Ayurvedic practitioners to treat chronic coughs and colds. Also called licorice, this heb is naturally sweet and has a pleasing taste. In addition to its medicinal values, it is also used as a flavouring agent in certain Middle Eastern cuisines and is eaten as a candy in many western countries. In fact, licorice is also easily available as a candy in supermarkets in India and online stores. The sweetness of Mulethi is due to a compound called glycyrrhizin that is 50 times sweeter than sugar!
Mulethi’s antioxidant properties reduce inflammation in the bronchial tubes and loosen the mucus that makes breathing difficult. It helps expectorate the phlegm clogging the airways. Its anti-bacterial properties attack the bacteria that cause respiratory infections.
Try this Ayurvedic Mulethi recipe for quick relief from chest congestion and cough. Mix 1/4 teaspoon honey, 1/4 teaspoon mulethi powder and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon with water and drink this syrup twice daily.