Coughing is usually a response to inhaling some form of irritant like pollen or dust, or the result of an illness or allergy attack. Regardless of the cause, nighttime coughing is made worse because it robs the individual of the restful sleep needed to overcome disease. Although there are various pharmaceutical cough treatments, some people prefer using a more natural approach and reach for home remedies or alternatives to quell a nighttime cough. Depending on the reason for your coughing, there may be a simple remedy to soothe your throat and quiet the cough. Some herbal remedies may produce side effects, so consult with a health practitioner before using herbs. It's also important to stick to one remedy at a time--don't stack two or more treatments together unless a health care professional directs it, as their interactions may result in unhealthy complications.
Use homeopathic Spongia toasta to quiet a nighttime cough. Whether the cough is the result of acid reflux irritating your throat, or from croup, spongia's action is most notable for coughs occurring at night. According to the University of Michigan Health System, spongia is indicated for suffocative nighttime coughs that are loud, deep and dry. The cough sounds as though a saw is being drawn through a piece of wood. Spongia may help a cough that is worse in warm air, and is made better by raising the head of the bed or sitting up, and by drinking or eating.
Take the herb mullein, which may be helpful in relieving dry, nighttime coughs, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Mullein is commonly used in herbal cough remedies and on its own as an expectorant to break up chest congestion and relieve blocked airways. Although there are no scientific studies pointing to its efficacy, anecdotal evidence from herbalists and patients indicates it may be helpful for coughs related to colds, flu, bronchitis and pneumonia, writes the "The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook." It can be purchased at health food stores alone or in combination cough remedies. Follow label directions if you use an herbal tonic with mullein.
Make an herbal tea from mullein by steeping 1 tsp. dried herb in 1 cup boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and drink as needed. Add honey to sweeten if needed. Mullein may cause side effects, so consult your health practitioner before using it.
Take homeopathic drosera for relief from a dry, spasmodic cough that is worse from the moment an individual lays down at night. According to homeopath William Boericke in the "Materia Medica and Repertory," the onset of the cough often occurs as soon as the person's head touches the pillow. The remedy may be indicated for coughing with sharp pains in the chest and tickling in the throat or upper chest, says UMMC. It may also be helpful in cases where the person is hoarse or choking during coughing episodes.
Use the herb Lobelia inflata as a tea or in extract form as an expectorant for a dry, nighttime cough. UMMC explains that lobelia helps clear the airways by loosening congestion and phlegm in the lungs and bronchial tubes. Lobelia is toxic and can cause serious side effects. It should only be used under the supervision of a trained herbalist or other health practitioner familiar with this herb.
Take a spoonful of honey during the night to relieve a dry cough. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, honey may be as effective at relieving coughs as are over-the-counter cough syrups. Honey may soothe tickling and irritation in the throat, which aggravates a dry cough. Honey should not be given to children under 1 year of age.
Use over-the-counter commercial cough medicines to relieve a dry, nighttime cough. Those used predominantly for a dry coughs are called suppressants, and may be helpful temporarily, according to the UMMC, which also notes that over-the-counter cough suppressants should not be given to children under the age of 6 because of the potential for side effects.
Contact your health practitioner for additional treatment if a cough persists or worsens.
- University of Michigan Health System: Cough--Homeopathic Remedies
- "Materia Medica and Repertory"; William Boericke; 1987
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cough
- "The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Everyday Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing"; James Duke; 2002