Home Remedies for Cough

Home Remedies for Cough
by: Arlene Gentallan

        Cough serves a vital role of protecting our respiratory system, ironically excessive coughing is one of the most common health problems. It can be a source of annoyance especially when it interferes with daily activities and sleep. There are alternative kitchen remedies that can work wonders for you.

What is cough?
        Cough is the involuntary reflex resulting to sudden expulsion of air from the lungs. It's the body's natural mechanism to clear the airways.

What is the purpose of cough?
  • It may be protective in nature such as to help you clear your airways when you aspirate a foreign body or inhale an irritating substance.
  • It can also be caused by an underlying disease such as an common cold, infection, GERD, or tumor.

Cough can be caused by an underlying health problem which needs to be solve.

What are the types of cough?
  • Acute cough has a duration of less than 3 weeks
  • Subacute cough has a duration of 3 - 8 weeks
  • Chronic cough has a duration of more than 8 weeks
  • Productive cough - when you cough up secretions such as mucus, sputum or phlegm
  • Dry cough - when your cough does not procude secretions

Causes of Cough
Cough lasting less than 3 weeks are often caused by:
  • URTI (upper respiratory tract infection) such as common cold, influenza (flu), and pneumonia
  • Inhaling irritating substance such as smoke, dust and pollen

Cough lasting more than 8 weeks (chronic cough) has three most common causes:
  • Postnasal drip syndrome (PNDS)
  • Asthma
  • Acid reflux

But causes of cough isn't just limited to those mention above, there may be wide range of culprit such as:
  • Sinusitis
  • Pharyngitis
  • Laryngitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Epiglottitis
  • Croup
  • Tonsillitis
  • Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to allergen
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), choking
  • Side effect of medication such as ACE inhibitors
  • Tuberculosis
  • Tumor
  • Lung cancer
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Whooping cough

What are the alternative remedies for cough?


1. Honey

        More than just a sweetener, honey acts as a demulcent or a substance that forms a protective coating on the mucous membrane of your mouth to ease pain, inflammation, and irritation cause by cough.

The World Health Organization (WHO) pinpoint honey as a demulcent.

        Honey's use as a home remedy for cough is convenient and relatively safe considering it's worldwide consumption and availability.
        It can also be taken by children above one year old. It's efficacy in children is valuable considering how cough suppressant medications often cause untoward side effects in the younger population.
        A study by Evan Ashkin, MD and Anne Mounsey, MD publised on NLM, shows that honey reduces cough frequency and severity. They offer the following  recommendation:
"For children older than one year with a viral URI, we can now recommend 1.5 tsp honey to be given prior to bedtime as a cough remedy. This may reduce the use of potentially harmful and often ineffective OTC cough and cold remedies."
Note: Honey is not recommended for children less than 1 year old because of the risk of develping botulism.
        Also, a study by Shadkam, Mozaffari-Khosravi and Mozayan published on NML concluded that honey is more effective in relieving cough caused by upper respiratory infection (URI) than cough suppresants dextromethorphan (DM) and diphenhydramine (DPH):
"receiving a 2.5-mL dose of honey before sleep has a more alleviating effect on URIs-induced cough compared with DM and DPH doses."

Do it yourself Cough Remedies with honey and lemon:
  • 1 cup or 8 ounce warm water
  • 1 piece fresh lemon
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • juicer

  1. To obtain more juice from a lemon, soak it in warm water for about 15 minutes before you juice it.
  2. Pour 1 cup or 8 ounce warm water in a mug
  3. Cut a lemon in half
  4. Use a juicer to juice the lemon, strain it and our it to the mug
  5. Add 2 tsp honey
  6. Stir and Enjoy!

Note: Lemon is a good source of vitamin C.

2. Licorice root

        Licorice is a herb used since ancient times as a sweet flavoring and alternative medicine. It has been used in many parts of the world like ancient Egypt (where it was found in the tomb of King Tut), China, India, Rome, Greece and others. 
        Licorice root is a demulcent and an expectorant. It relives the throat of irritation and pain and ease the removal of sticky secretions from the lungs. It is also used to relieve common cold, sore throat, canker sore, bronchitis, GERD, viral infection, skin disorder, and irritable bowel syndrome.
        Did you know that research indicates that licorice root contains "glycyrrhizic acid," an potent antiviral and anti-tumor compound. It has also been shown to inhibit hepatitis C virus replication, and has been used for kaposi's sarcoma.

How to make Licorice root tea?
  • 1 cup or 8 ounce water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried licorice root

  1. Boil 1/2 tsp dried licorice root in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes
  2. Steep for another 5-15 minutes
  3. No need to add sugar. Licorice has a natural sweet taste
  4. Strain and serve!
There's also available readily made licorice tea bags for purchase.

Caution: Using licorice root has the potential to increase your blood pressure.

3. Gargle with salt and water

        Gargling with salt and water soothes your throat by reducing throat inflammation and swelling bough about by excessive coughing. It also ease the removal of phlegm has anti-bacterial property.
        Simply add 1 teaspoon salt to a cup (250 ml) of warm water. Gargle for about 30 seconds.

4. Thyme

        Thyme contains "terpenoids" which acts as an expectorant. It is relieves smooth muscle spasm seen in cough. Studies has shown that thyme in combination of ivy leaves suggests that it can help relieve productive cough secondary to upper respiratory infections like cold and bronchitis.

How to make thyme tea?
  • 1 cup or 8 ounce boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves or 2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon honey

  1. Pour 1 cup boiling water in a mug
  2. Add 1 tbsp dried or 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  3. Steep for 10 minutes
  4. Add 1 teaspoon honey
  5. Serve!
Don't forget to hydrate yourself with plenty of fluids!

5. Oregano

        Oregano is an effective alternative medicine to treat cough, common cold, asthma, bronchitis, nasal congestion, sinusitis, and sore throat. Oregano has antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

There are several ways you can harness the benefits of oregano:
  • Ingest 1 tablespoon concentrated oregano juice every hour to relieve your cough.
  • Ingest 1 to 2 drops oregano oil 3 times a day
  • Take oregano tea 3 times a day

How to make an oregano tea deconcoction?
  • 2 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon honey

  1. Pour 1 cup boiling water in a mug
  2. Add 2 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp dried oregano leaves
  3. Steep for 5-10 minutes
  4. Add 1 teaspoon honey
  5. Serve!
  6. Take this deconcoction 3 times a day.

6. Peppermint

        Peppermint contains menthol which works to relieve congestion and irritation caused by cough and colds. There are several ways you can benefit from peppermint's soothing effect:
  • Put several drops of peppermint essential oil into a cotton to inhale it
  • Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to boiling water and breath it's vapour
  • Make yourself a cup of peppermint tea

How to make Peppermint tea?
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon dried or fresh peppermint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon honey or lime

  1. Put 1 cup boiling water in a mug
  2. Add 1 tbsp dried or fresh peppermint leaves
  3. Cover mug with saucer and steep for 5-10 minutes
  4. You may add a teaspoon of honey or lime for flavor
  5. Strain, cool, sip and enjoy

7. Ginger

        Ginger contains "oleoresi" which has antitussive property which helps supress cough. It also contains "zingibain"  which is anti-inflammatory. It has been used since the ancient times to treat coug, common cold, flu, dizziness, headache, nauea and vomiting.
To relieve your throat from colds, cough, and flu, you can chew 1 small piece raw ginger, drink ginger ale or ginger tea.
How to Make a Ginger Tea? 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 inch size ginger or 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey or lime

  1. Boil 1 cup of water
  2. Peel and finely chop a 1 inch size ginger
  3. You may also use 1 tsp ginger powder instead
  4. Put ginger in the water and simmer for 15 minutes
  5. You may add a teaspoon of honey or lime for flavor
  6. Strain, cool, sip and enjoy

8. Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis)

        The marshmallow I'm referring to is a herb, not the fluffy treat. It has a long history dating back to the ancient Egypt. Back in the old days, it is used to make marshmallow. But, modern marshmallows are no longer made from the sap of marshmallow plant. It is made from gelatin instead.
        Marshmallow's leaves and roots are use as an alternative kitchen remedy for dry cough, cold, nasal congestion, sore throat, heartburn, dyspepsia, and ulcer. It has antitussive ,antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and mucilage properties. It has a viscous component which coats the throat to relieve irritation.

Marshmallow tincture: You can take 6-12 drops marshmallow tincture 3 times a day. Put it direct under your tongue for after absorption or add it to your drinking water or juice.

How to Make a Marshmallow root Tea? 
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon dried marshmallow root
  • 1 teaspoon honey

  1. Pour 1 cup water into a mug
  2. Add 1 tbsp dried marshmallow root
  3. Steep for 5-10 minutes
  4. Strain
  5. You may add a teaspoon of honey  for fl
  6. Enjoy!