5 Natural Home Remedies for a Cough
Coughing is a vigorous attempt by your body to rid your upper respiratory tract of toxins, irritants such as allergens and harmful microorganisms such as viruses. A cough is a common symptom of colds and flu and it can also manifest as a result of allergies. Coughs can be extremely irritating and at times even painful. Over the counter medications may help to suppress the symptoms of your cough but they won’t actually eliminate it. Natural home remedies on the other hand can help to not only sooth your throat and reduce coughing but also to strengthen your immune system and hasten healing time.
1. Homemade Cough Medicine
Dr. Ross Trattler, ND, recommends in his book “Better Health through Natural Healing” making a homemade cough medicine that will not only sooth your throat but also get to the root cause of your cough.
The recipe is as follows:
- Slice 1 large onion
- Place sliced onion into a bowl
- Cover the onion with 1-2 tbsp of honey
- Cover the container tightly and allow it to sit for 8 hours
- Mash and strain the mixture and discard any pulp
- Take 1 tsp of the liquid 4-8 times daily
Honey has been used medicinally for centuries and it is well known for its ability to coat and sooth a sore throat. What many people don’t realize is that raw honey also has profound antimicrobial properties, which means that it works as a mild and natural antibiotic and helps to fight-off viruses and bacteria. In order to receive the beneficial effects of honey you should choose a raw honey because many of the beneficial properties of honey are destroyed during the process of pasteurization.
Onions are also useful as a cough treatment because they help to remove phlegm from your upper respiratory tract. According to Natural Remedies Center, they are also a potent source of the anti-oxidant quercetin, which helps to boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. Due to the quercetin content, onions may also be beneficial for allergy induced coughing, which is characterized by a persistent cough lasting for weeks and a sensation of dryness or itchiness in the throat. The reason why quercetin containing foods such as onions can help to sooth allergic coughs is because quercetin works as a natural antihistamine and histamine is the substance in your body that is responsible for most allergy symptoms, including coughing.
2. Increase Your Fluid Intake
If you have a cough due to a cold, you should drink at least 8 cups a day of water because water helps to thin and loosen the mucus in your lungs. Adequate water intake is also important for allergy related coughs because a lack of hydration in the lungs can cause you airways to constrict and to produce more mucus. Stay away from sodas and any other sugar containing beverages because sugar suppresses your immune system and may prologue the healing process. Also avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee and non-herbal tea because caffeine contributes to dehydration.
3. Sip on Spicy Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is an old folk remedy for a cough and cold that is also backed by scientific evidence. The steam from the chicken soup helps to loosen mucus, and the nutrients found in the soup amplify this effect. According to Irwin Ziment, M.D., and professor at the UCLA school of medicine, when chicken is cooked it releases a chemical that is similar to the drug acetylcysteine, which helps to decrease the thickness of, and reduce the production of, mucus. Adding spices such as garlic and pepper can further enhance the healing properties of chicken soup. These spices are helpful because garlic is a well-known immune system booster and black pepper helps to open the mucous membrane and relieve chest congestion.
4. Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation is both simple and effective and it is one of the oldest cough remedies. You can do this with plain water but for added benefits consider using tea tree oil, which has antibiotic and antiviral properties.
The inhalation procedure is as follows:
- Boil water
- Add at least 5-6 drops of tea tree oil and stir
- Inhale the vapors for 5-10 minutes by covering a blanket over your head
- Repeat this procedure every night before going to bed and more often if desired
Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions, states Mayo Clinic. Dry air also contributes to a scratchy throat because it dries out your mucous membranes. Steam inhalation will help to break-up and clear excess mucus in a productive cough and sooth a scratchy throat. In addition to following the steam inhalation procedure consider using a humidifier in your room at night to moisten the air and prevent nocturnal coughing. Taking a hot shower or bath can also help.
5. Increase your intake of Vitamin C
Good dietary sources include:
- lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits
- spinach and other deep leafy greens
For the best results consider also supplementing with vitamin C. The recommended dose is 5,000 mg of vitamin C taken in divided doses.
Vitamin C is well-known for its ability to prevent and hasten the healing of a cold. It is a potent antioxidant that scavenges free radicals and strengthens your immune system. Vitamin C helps to heal cold and flu related coughs because it promotes the production of a substance called interferon in your body, and interferon improves your body’s ability to ward of viruses. High doses of vitamin C may also be beneficial for allergy-related coughs because similar to the quercetin found in onions, vitamin C helps to reduce the production of histamine in your body.