Even though spring is near, coughing can still be a problem. Most people only develop a cough when they have a cold or the flu. You are the “lucky ones”. People with allergies like me can have a cough any time. I have had allergic rhinitis (think hay fever) since I was a teenager. I react to many things but especially pollen, mold, cigarette smoke, and chemicals in the air.
For the last couple of months trees have been pollinating. I discovered in college that I could get sick before the leaves appear on the tree – it sounds strange, but they’re pollinating. One of my first line of defense remedies is raw, local honey. The bees collect pollen and make honey which has some of the pollen and an enzyme the bees add that makes it antibacterial.
Studies, such as one conducted at Penn State College of Medicine, have found that honey can work more efficiently to calm a cough than over-the-counter drugs. It is a rich demulcent, with a high viscosity and stickiness that does an incredible job of coating and soothing those irritated mucous membranes. Thanks to an enzyme added by bees when they harvest honey, it also has antibacterial properties as well, which may help shorten how long you have the cough if it is due to bacterial illness.
My simplest cough remedy is a tablespoon of honey for adults or 1 or 2 teaspoons for young children over 2. It coats the throat and reduces the tickle. Caution: This is an excellent alternative remedy for both kids and adults, but should never be given to children under the age of 2 years due to the risk of botulism.
It is also one of the ingredients for my morning hot drink. Honey, lemon juice, and crushed ginger in warm water help me start the day. Do you ever wake up with a bad taste in your mouth? Try lemon and honey drink. When I have a sore throat or cough, I drink multiple cups a day. I discovered how great hot lemon water and honey were when I had the flu in my twenties. A couple of friends came to visit with a bottle of rum, a lemon, and honey. They made me a hot tottie. I kept using the drink in the mornings (minus the rum). Several years ago I added the crushed ginger as it helps your immune system (I need all the help I can get.) and your digestion. Use 1/2 a lemon squeezed, 1 heaping teaspoon honey, and a tablespoon of crushed ginger. Caution: Avoid using ginger with blood-thinning medications, such as warfin and aspirin.
Another great remedy for sore throats and coughs is gargling with salt and hot water. When I was in 8th grade, I got the flu and developed strep throat. I was hospitalized several days and one of the main therapies was a hot salt gargle. I’ve found it useful in treating infections of the mouth and throat. Even my dentist recommends it. Start with 1 teaspoon salt to 8 oz. of water. If it does not decrease your cough, you can increase to 2 teaspoons. As with all rinses and gargles, do not swallow the water as you are washing the bacteria from your mouth.
If you want to try medicinal herbs and spices, several are useful in making teas that help coughs. Peppermint is my first choice for a herbal tea for health. It settles upset stomach, enhances your focus and makes you more alert. It also relieves cough and congestion and sweetens bad breath. Use 1 tablespoon fresh mint to a cup of hot water and steep. You can also use peppermint tea bags. Add a teaspoon of honey. Caution: Do not take peppermint if you take cyclosporine. (for transplant rejection) Take peppermint at least 2 hours before or after an acid-reducing drug. Some people are allergic to mint family.
Chamomile is a potent herb with wonderful healing benefits. Brewed chamomile tea is often used as a sleep aid or for digestive distress. It can also soothe a cough, has sedative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial agents to help you get rid of your runny nose and sore throat. You can buy tea bags of chamomile or use 4 Tablespoons of dried flowers per tea pot for strong tea and steep. Pour into your cup and add honey to taste. If you want to add more power to the tea, add crushed ginger. Caution: Some people who are allergic to plants in the daisy family could have a reaction.
Chamomile has diverse health benefits that are emphasized in peer-review journals. These health benefits vary from its sedative and analgesic (anti-pain) effects to its amazing antimicrobial benefits. For example a German study has shown that small doses of chamomile destroys two important strains of bacteria: Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. Another study has shown that inhalation of steam from chamomile flower heads in boiling water is effective against gram positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis. These antibacterial effects are mainly because of Chamazulene, an active ingredient in chamomile that is an effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
Inhalation of chamomile steeped tea is another effective treatment. To inhale the good stuff in chamomile boil about a quart of water in a pot, (not microwave) pour into a bowl, add a handful of chamomile flowers, dried or fresh,let it sit for 10 minutes, then put a towel over your or your child’s head covering both head and the bowl, deeply inhale the steam for 5 to 10 minutes.
Marshmallow is also a type of herb. Marshmallow, known scientifically as Althaea officinalis, is an African plant with short roundish leaves and small pale flowers. It was originally used medicinally by the Egyptians. Marshmallow leaf and root are used for pain and swelling (inflammation) of the mucous membranes that line the respiratory tract.
From BeWiseLiveWise.com (no longer active website) comes a cough suppression syrup using chamomile and marshmallow with lemon, ginger and honey.
- 8 oz water (filtered)
- 1 cup of honey
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
- 1/4 cup Chamomile flower
- 1/4 cup Marshmallow root
- 1/4 cup Lemon juice
- 1/4 cup Ginger root (dried or grated fresh)
- Pour water into a saucepan.
- Add all of the herbs and bring to a boil. After a minute, reduce heat and simmer the mixture. When the half of the water evaporates, remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Strain it using a strainer or a clean cloth and while mixture is lukewarm, add the honey and mix.
- Add the lemon juice. Stir very well & store it in an air-tight container. Cough syrup can be refrigerated up to two months.
I hope this information helps you in combating coughs; it’s wonderful when you can use nature’s remedies. Note: This information is based on my experience, and I am not a medical professional. When in doubt, talk to your doctor.