Most coughs occur as a symptom of colds, flu or sinus infections, although more serious problems such as lung infections can also cause coughing. In most cases, coughing clears your throat and airways of mucus and other irritating particles. An ongoing or severe cough may indicate a more serious problem. Usually, a cough passes in less than two weeks on its own, and natural cough remedies can help you cope with the discomfort. If your cough lasts longer than two weeks, consult your doctor to determine the cause and for further treatment.
Peppermint, an herb widely used to treat coughs and other cold symptoms, contains menthol, which thins mucus and helps loosen it from your lungs. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends using peppermint to treat wet and dry coughs at home. For the best results, make a soothing peppermint tea by steeping 1 tsp. dried peppermint leaves in 1 cup boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the spent herbs from the liquid, sweeten with honey if desired, and drink up to three cups daily when plagued with a cough.
Honey Cough Syrup
Honey soothes a sore throat and may help suppress coughs. A 2007 study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that honey was more effective in suppressing coughs than over-the-counter medicines. In her book “Natural, Alternative and Complementary Health Care Practices,” Roxana Huebscher recommends making your own honey cough syrup by combining one part honey with nine parts lemon juice and heating just long enough to blend. Take 1 tsp. of the mixture as often as needed for coughs. Store excess in a glass bottle or jar with lid and make a fresh batch daily.
Do not give honey to children under 2 years old.
Cloves and Honey
Cloves dull the pain of a sore throat, while honey helps suppress coughs and soothes inflamed throat tissue. In the book “1,801 Home Remedies: Trustworthy Treatments for Everyday Health Problems,” the Reader's Digest Association suggests mixing 5 or 6 whole cloves in 1 cup honey and leaving the mixture in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the cloves from the honey in the morning and discard. For the best results, take 1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. of the clove-infused honey as often as needed to suppress coughing.
Thyme Cough Syrup
Thyme, a traditional herbal remedy for respiratory problems, may help relieve coughs. The German Commission E, the country's panel of herbal medicine experts, endorses the herb for treating bronchitis and coughs. Jude C. Todd, author of “Jude's Herbal Remedies,” suggests making your own thyme cough syrup at home. Pour 2 cups boiling water over 2 tbsp. dried thyme, and allow the mixture to steep until cooled to room temperature. Strain and add 1 cup of honey. Transfer to a glass jar with lid and shake well to mix before each use. Take 1 tbsp. up to six times a day to relieve sore throat, colds and coughs.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cough
- “Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine”; Effect of Honey, Dextromethorphan, and No Treatment on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality for Coughing Children and Their Parents
- “Natural, Alternative and Complementary Health Care Practices”; Roxana Huebscher, Pamela A. Shuler; 2004
- “1,801 Home Remedies: Trustworthy Treatments for Everyday Health Problems”; Reader's Digest; 2004
- “Jude's Herbal Home Remedies”; Jude C. Williams, Jude Todd; 2002