Need an effective home remedy for cough when you have the flu, a cold, or an Upper Respiratory Tract Infection? Use these simple cough home remedies for soothing relief.
The British Thoracic Society calls, “acute cough… the largest single cause of [doctor visits] in primary care.” In the UK alone, that’s over 10 million people a year! In North America, coughing is an equally big problem.
But why are so many of us plagued by coughs and what can we do about it?
Here are some of the most common causes of chronic cough:
This article looks at cough home remedies for Upper Respiratory Tract Infection, flu and coughs when you have a cold. The first two will also help if you're coughing because of dry air.
For home remedies for other types of cough – especially if you’re not sure what’s causing your cough, see the articles list at the bottom of the page.
Try one or all of these 7 soothing cough remedies...
Honey may seem like a simple home remedy for cough but it’s so effective, doctors have recommended it as a superior treatment for Upper Respiratory Tract Infections.
One study showed that it was just as effective as the leading cough medication – without the side effects.
A spoonful of honey 30 minutes before bed reduces night-time coughing – both for severity and frequency.
During the day, honey-sweetened lozenges or suckers and herbal teas will calm your cough.
Do not feed honey to infants.
Read more about honey and its amazing healing qualities – the most delectable home remedy for cough…
Organic and wild-crafted herbal teas are a wonderful home remedy for cough. They moisturize dry, irritated mucous membranes, soothe your raspy throat, combat the effects of dry air, and warm you up when you’re feeling chilled.
You can steep these herbs individually or in combination for a cough-relieving tea.
I used to think herbal teas tasted boring and didn’t do anything for me. But the mistake I made was to steep them for only a couple of minutes.
Then I learned that the longer you steep the herbs, the better. You need the herbs to really infuse the water, so you get the full flavour and benefit for your cough.
If you want your tea to be an effective home remedy for your cough instead of useless coloured water, follow these steps…
When the tea is ready, stir in a tablespoon of raw honey (more or less to taste.)
I also like to add mineral drops such as Concentrace or Ion-Mag for a bigger health boost. Minerals are co-factors for most of the processes that run your body and brain – including healing your cough. Sip, and enjoy the relief!
Note: Slippery elm powder is quite mucilaginous (gloppy) when you mix it with water, so it’ll make your tea thicker, which is a little weird, but it’s a great home remedy for cough – almost like a natural cough syrup.
Make sure to stir slippery elm powder well, when you add it to herbal teas. You may need to stir it again from time to time while you’re drinking it. You can make it into a tea by itself, too, although I’ve found it’s quite bland and tastes better with ginger, lemon and honey. (Here's how to make the best ginger tea.)
Use a humidifier in your room and/or put your face over a steamer to lubricate dry throat membranes, loosen mucus, and bring moisture to your lungs to soothe chest coughs. Steam is great for lubricating dry sinuses, too.
Put a few drops of cough-soothing eucalyptus, peppermint or menthol essential oils into your steamer water. Keep your eyes closed because getting eucalyptus steam in them can hurt.
Don’t have a steamer? Just pour a big bowl of steaming hot water, add essential oils if you like, and hold your face over it (eyes closed.)
Put a towel over your head and drape it around the bowl to create a “tent” and direct the steam towards your nose and mouth. When we were kids, my mum used this as a natural remedy for cough and cold. I still use it and it's surprisingly effective.
WARNING! Make sure your steamer or humidifier is not mouldy or you’ll make your cough worse. Mould is one of the causes behind a chronic cough or asthma cough.
One of the most common causes of coughing is virus – causing upper respiratory tract infections and colds. To fight off viruses, you need a strong immune system.
Guess where 70 - 80 percent of your immune function is? It’s in your gut flora! So you need healthy flora to help overwhelm the virus and get rid of your cough faster.
The simplest and quickest way to strengthen your gut flora and boost your immunity is with a good-quality probiotic.
The virus that’s causing your cough is not just in your throat. It’s also in your digestive tract.
That virus has a protein coating. When you take digestive enzymes, they digest the protein coating off the virus and it dies.
Enzymes help you to reduce the amount of virus in your body and make it easier for your immune system to do its job of healing you.
To use enzymes as a home remedy for cough or cold, I usually take 3-4 enzymes every 3-4 hours BETWEEN meals for the first day or two.
If you take them with meals, they’ll help you digest your food but won't do much virus-killing.
If you have a cough from acid reflux, enzymes will help you digest your food better to reduce the chance of a reflux cough.
I find it ironic that many cough remedies - even when they're natural - contain sugar.
But when you’re coughing because you’re sick (rather than from dry air or stress), you need to AVOID REFINED SUGAR like the plague!
1) Sugar is the food of virus (and other opportunistic pathogens or bad microbes.)
My theory is that when you’re getting sick, the virus in your system makes you crave sugar so you’ll feed it and it can take over. Unlike raw honey, sugar has no health benefits.
2) Sugar slows down your immunity for up to 5 hours after you eat it. That is, it inhibits your neutrophils which are white blood cells that are an important part of your immune system.
When you have a cough and respiratory infection, you want those white blood cells to work as hard as possible to heal you.
Thump on your breastbone, using a gently closed fist.
The thymus gland is under your breastbone. It makes or processes T cells which are part of your cough-fighting immune system. Do this thumping every day while you’re sick to stimulate your immunity and combat virus.
This is a home remedy for cough to help you get phlegm out of your chest...
Using a cupped hand, tap in circles around each side of your chest (over your rib cage and lungs.) Use your left hand to tap the right side of your chest and your right hand to tap the left.
Tap over to the side of your body and up into your underarm.
Tap up to your shoulder area, along the top of your shoulder, and up to your neck. Using your fingertips, tap up and around your neck and around your ears.
There are many lymph nodes in your chest, underarms, and neck, so at the same time you’re loosening phlegm, you’re helping your lymphatic fluid to flush out toxins, and stimulating your immune system. (The lymph is part of your immune system.)
I use these techniques to improve my immunity when people around me are coughing and sneezing, especially if my energy is low. It works!
You can also have someone else tap up and down your back – especially your upper back over your rib cage area – with a cupped hand or gently closed fist.
Lots of health sites claim that pineapple juice works 5 times better than cough syrup. Is it true?
Unpasteurized, unheated fresh pineapple juice definitely has some proven health benefits. For example, it’s a terrific natural remedy to reduce inflammation if you have inflammatory bowel disease. And the enzyme bromelain in pineapple helps heal tendon injuries.
But I couldn’t find any scientific evidence that pineapple juice is an effective home remedy for cough. If you know of a reputable scientific study about this that I missed, please let me know.
For now, it looks like pineapple juice as a cough syrup substitute is home remedy hooey.
So there you have some of the best home remedies for cough when you have a respiratory tract infection. For other types of cough, please read the additional articles listed below.
Amazing honey – the sweetest home remedy for cough
Powerful home remedies for cough from allergies, asthma or mystery cough, when you have a chronic cough for “no reason” or you have to clear your throat often – even if you don’t have allergies or asthma!
How to make the best ginger tea
Fresh ginger has wonderful healing properties and makes a delicious tea to soothe your cough or sore throat. Here’s my favourite recipe.
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