Winter. It’s often rife with patches of sickness for anyone braving the cold. And one of the signature symptoms of a winter bug — a cough.
Now, a cough itself isn’t a bad thing (even if it is annoying). In fact, coughing can be pretty helpful, as it clears the throat of mucus or irritants.
However, while a cough is relatively benign, a prolonged cough can be an indicator of certain issues. These range from basic chest congestion to other, more serious concerns.
Of course, many people dealing with a bothersome cough choose conventional relief. However, recent guidelines suggest avoiding giving medicines to extremely young children.1
In addition, there are several natural alternatives available for children and adults, and they can be as effective as cough medicine. In addition, they can be more accessible and affordable.
What Causes A Cough?
Coughing is a normal physical action. Something as simple as a tickle in your throat or food going down the wrong path can trigger it. Ultimately, you want to keep anything harmful or irritating from entering your respiratory tract. But once a cough repeats, you may want to start paying attention.
For instance, a viral rhinitis, or respiratory infection, can lead to irritation in an otherwise healthy person and trigger a cough.2
The primary reason for a cough here is to clear mucus that’s causing chest congestion. This is known as a wet, or “productive,” cough. It can be uncomfortable, but it’s one way your body tries to help you recover from an acute illness.
By comparison, a dry cough, where no mucus comes up, can be an indicator of another issue. This is particularly common in smokers.
However, a chronic or a persistent cough is generally defined as going beyond eight weeks. In 9 out of 10 non-smoking patients, a cough comes from one of the following conditions:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Postnasal drip
- Therapy with angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors3
Chronic dry cough, accompanied by other symptoms, can be an indicator of many serious conditions, including lung issues and other major illnesses. When you think of all the things they can signal, it’s no surprise that coughs send so many people to the doctor each year.4
Natural Home Remedies
Long-term coughs are sometimes accompanied by other symptoms, like:
- A sore throat
- A stuffy nose
In addition, frequent coughing may interrupt your sleep, leading to exhaustion during the day.
This makes a temporary cough remedy important for your quality of life.
It can minimize the impact on your body while it works on the root issue.5
Science has learned that certain natural ingredients can help your body handle inflammation and other factors behind chronic coughs. Below are 8 remedies that may just help you get over that cough.
It turns out, sweet substances like honey can help soothe a sore throat and break up mucus in the passageways. Therefore, if you’re dealing with a wet cough, honey could lower the frequency with which you’re experiencing it.6
Furthermore, honey is known for having antimicrobial and antifungal properties.7 One study on buckwheat honey actually showed that children who consumed it over a placebo slept better and experienced reduced frequency and severity of their cough.8
When using honey to help your cough, just do what grandma did… take a spoonful of honey directly or add it to some herbal tea or lemon water. You can also consider spreading some honey on other snacks.
Thyme has been used for centuries as a remedy for respiratory issues, and is actually used in some countries to treat acute bronchitis and coughs. In fact, thyme extract and ivy have been proven to help with both conditions.9 Thyme oil is not to be eaten, but you can crush thyme leaves to make an effective tea.
3. Salt Water
Staying regularly hydrated is always a good idea. But, in addition to staying hydrated, it can be helpful to use a salt water gargle for sore throat relief. Just mix ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt into an 8 oz glass of warm water.10
Ginger is a proven anti-inflammatory with significant antioxidant properties — just like honey. So, ginger can help when it comes to fighting respiratory infections. The nice thing about ginger is that it’s also a very versatile option. You can make tea from it, chew it dried, add it to food, or even take it in capsule form.11
Turmeric is especially useful when it comes to treating inflammation. A favorite Indian ingredient for centuries, one study showed that turmeric actually had more anti-inflammatory effects than ginger. The tradeoff is that there aren’t as many ways to use turmeric. Generally, you have to either take a supplement or use its powdered form in tea or food.12
Licorice root is commonly used to help get rid of phlegm. One study showed that a gargle with licorice helped to heal a sore throat after medical operations.13
7. Black Pepper Tea
Black pepper is a pretty common household item, but did you know that it can do more than just spice up your cooking? It turns out, black pepper may also be able to help you if you’ve got a bad cough.14 Pepper is also great for mixing with some of the other options on this list. An herbal tea with black pepper, honey, and ginger tastes great and packs a real health punch.
Finally, steam isn’t an ingredient in the conventional sense, but it can work wonders to help clear up your passages to minimize coughs. It is believed that this has a soothing effect on the mucous membranes lining the nose. Some added chamomile or peppermint oil can help even more if you plan to steam out your passages.15,16
Home Cough Remedies In Review
A cough can be uncomfortable, especially if you’re recovering from a serious illness. The remedies above can help give you comfort, but a cough is only one small part of a bigger issue. So, will the remedies above fix everything? No, but they can help reduce the frequency and severity. Of course, you should always consult your medical professional before using a natural remedy. And be sure to check in with your doctor about the root cause of your cough. In some cases, you may be dealing with a more serious issue.
Why You Should Sip on Some Licorice Root Tea
How To Use Sage For A Healthy Body and Mind
Top 5 Best Teas for Detox and Cleansing (they’re effective!)