A groundbreaking review of multiple studies on colds and coughs in children found that in most cases, treating colds and coughs with over-the-counter medication had at best, no effect, and at worst, resulted in the hospitalization of the child.
Just because over-the-counter medication may not make your cough disappear, you don’t have to suffer through sleepless nights and aching muscles until your body kicks the cough on its own. Studies support several natural remedies for coughs that are both easy and effective. Before reaching for that bottle of cough syrup this winter, try these natural cough remedies first.
Make a honey elixir
Honey is amazing. There is little that the natural sweetener cannot do. In addition to acting as an anti-allergen, it also has antibacterial and antiviral properties.
A 2007 study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine reported that when children with persistent night coughs were given a teaspoon of honey for two days, their coughs were significantly improved. The results with honey were better than the control group and even better than the group receiving standard cough medicine.
Add two teaspoons of honey, half of a juiced lemon, and 1/8th of a teaspoon of cinnamon to warm water. Drink several glasses a day and your cough should be gone in no time.
Steam your cough away
Humidity opens the airways and makes it easier for fluids to clear from your throat and nasal passages. Bathing or taking a shower in hot water can help clear chest congestion, as can running a humidifier in your bedroom at night. A higher humidity level works particularly well at relieving symptoms of a “tickled throat” and dry coughs.
Drink some licorice
Licorice is not just for candy. In fact, natural licorice is highly effective at reducing both coughing and pain in the throat. In Europe, extracts of licorice are commonly used in cough remedies because licorice root soothes the throat and airways while loosening congestion. Glycyrrhizin is the compound in licorice responsible for its medicinal benefits, which also provides anti-inflammatory properties.
When you have a cough that won’t quit, drink licorice tea or suck on candies made with real licorice extract to prevent sudden explosions of coughing while at work or in other places where you just can’t cough loudly.
Make a saltwater gargle
Salt has unfortunately been demonized in our culture, but for coughs, even the big names admit it is highly beneficial. A gargle of salt not only soothes a sore throat, but it can also relieve a cough and fight congestion. Gargling with salt changes your mouth’s pH and encourages water to leave the cells in your throat. This reduces inflammation, making your throat feel less sore, making you cough less. Salt also works to break apart trapped mucous, making your coughs more productive.
Gargle with one teaspoon of salt dissolved into a cup of water three times a day until your cough is gone.
Scientific studies are continuing to uncover more evidence to support traditional and natural home remedies like these four for coughs. What are your favorite ways to treat a cough without medication? Do you find that any one of these remedies works better than another to treat, soothe and heal your throat?
—The Alternative Daily