It may not seem (or feel) like it, but a few episodes of cough can be good for you. It’s your body’s response to irritants. Whenever you cough, your body is trying to expel an irritant by pushing air out of your lungs. Although coughing may be good for the body, it can keep you up all night, disrupt your conversations and make you miserable. Sometimes, you feel as if the cough is forever.
Coughs often clear up without treatment. But if you want to address your coughing now, there are several natural remedies you can try, some of them could already be in your medicine cabinet or kitchen.
If you love honey or enjoy the taste of it, you’re in luck. Honey is a natural cough suppressant, so any hot beverage with honey can treat and soothe cough for a short period of time. If you want to add honey to your drink, use plain hot water or a cup of hot tea. Add a teaspoon of honey and cap it off with a lemon (just for the flavor).
You can also eat honey directly from a bottle (but use a spoon of course). A spoonful of honey is an affordable way to address your cough — with proven benefits.
A study from the Journal of Pediatric Clinics of North America conducted a study that involved giving up to two teaspoons of honey to children with upper respiratory tract infections. The study reported that the honey helped reduce coughing, as well as improved the children’s sleep quality.
Probiotics do not relieve your cough, but they balance the gastrointestinal flora, aka the bacteria that live in your intestines. They help strike a balance in your immune system too, which is helpful in preventing upper respiratory infections.
Each probiotics supplement manufacturer may recommend different daily intakes. Given the different probiotics available, make sure to talk to your doctor first to determine the right probiotic for you and your condition. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics. This list of foods includes the following:
Peppermint isn’t just ideal for toothpaste flavors. Peppermint leaves are known for their healing properties. Its menthol content soothes the throat and doubles as a decongestant, aka the enzyme that breaks down phlegm.
Relieve your cough by inhaling peppermint vapors from a steam bath or drinking peppermint tea. If you want to make the steam bath, add three or four drops of peppermint oil for every five ounces of hot water. Once the peppermint mixture is complete, cover your head with a towel and take deep breaths above the mint water.
Salt and Water Gargle
It may seem like a “too simple” solution, but gargling with salt and water relieves a scratchy throat (which is the culprit behind most coughs).
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported that gargling with salt water can weaken the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, as well as prevent coughs in the first place.
To make your salt-water gargle, mix ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water.
Your favorite herb can also be used to address your cough and other respiratory illnesses. Mixing ivy with the extract from thyme leaves can help relieve your cough, as well as offer relief for bronchitis. Thyme leaves contain flavonoids, which lessen inflammation and relax your throat muscles.
To make thyme tea, add two teaspoons of crushed thyme to a cup of boiling water. Let the cup steep for 10 minutes, strain and enjoy.
How to Prevent Coughs
Apart from learning how to treat colds and coughs, it’s important to learn how to prevent them in the first place. Start by protecting yourself from the flu. Make sure to get your annual flu shot.
Other steps to take are:
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Always wash your hands for twenty seconds, especially after coughing, caring for someone who is sick, going to the bathroom or eating.
- Cover your mouth and nose whenever you sneeze or cough.
- Avoid coming in contact with people who are also sick. If you are sick, avoid going to school or work to prevent infecting others.
- If your cough is due to allergies, avoid flare-ups by identifying the allergens that trigger you.
Try the remedies above to address your coughs. But if your cough is affecting your ability to breathe or if you are coughing up blood, seek medical treatment immediately.