Winter is one of the worst times of the year for coughs. Between that icky wet cold and flu cough and the dry cough you get from having the heat turned up all the time, it seems like someone around us is always hacking. I have a very weird system when it comes to cold and flu medicines, so I try to stick with natural home remedies for coughs whenever I can. Most cough medicines either knock me out or whack me out, neither of which is beneficial during the work day!
It should go without saying, but I’m saying it anyway: talk to your doctor if you’re coughing and don’t know why. This isn’t medical advice, I’m not a doctor, etc and so on. If you have any medical conditions, always talk to your doc before trying any home or alternative remedies. Even something as simple as eating more garlic can be detrimental to your health if you’re on certain medications. Use common sense, my friends. It’s your best friend.
My Favorite Natural and Home Remedies for Coughs
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First, let’s make a quick distinction between natural remedies and home remedies, shall we? Natural remedies are what they sound like: natural ways to combat an illness or condition. Using tea tree oil for acne, for example. Home remedies can be natural. They can also involve weird stuff, like hooking yourself up to car batteries (I read this somewhere, but I can’t remember what for and I’m not even looking it up to tell you what it was about, because hello, NOT common sense). They’re things you can do AT HOME.
Sometimes, natural remedies are not really home remedies, because they require trips to mystical herbal shops in Chinatown. We don’t all have access to these cool herbal shops, now do we? You can’t really call it a home remedy if you have to travel 400 miles to get one of the ingredients. That’s an over-simplified explanation of the difference, but there IS a difference and I wanted to make it clear. Now on with the natural and home remedies for coughing. These are my favorite tried and true remedies.
Drink Your Water
One of the most important home remedies for a cough: drink enough water. Even your doctor will tell you this. Staying hydrated not only combats the annoying dry cough, it helps loosen up all the gunk in your chest. Here’s the thing: that glass of ice water may not be helping. If you absolutely can’t tolerate room temp or warmer water, it’s better than nothing, but ice cold water could actually make you cough more in some cases.
For people like me who really can’t stand plain water, drinking hot tea is the next best thing. In fact, for some types of coughs, it may be the best thing. Hot tea works wonders on coughs. While just about any type of hot tea will work, thyme tea is one of the best. Germany, which is way more advanced than the US when it comes to studying and recommending medicinal herbs, actually officially recommends it as a natural remedy for coughs.
Make Friends with the Bees
Honey is absolutely amazing for zapping a cough. According to the Mayo Clinic, its effectiveness is even backed up by studies. In fact, honey may work just as well as OTC cough medicines. Take a spoonful of it alone or add it to your tea. Just remember, you can’t give it to babies under age one because of botulism spores.
If you’re not a fan of straight honey (I could eat it by the spoonfuls all day, but I know not everyone loves it that much), you can make your own cough syrup with it. It’s as simple as adding the honey to a bit of lemon juice and olive or coconut oil. I really like this honey cough syrup recipe at Mommypotamus because she gives you some good add-ins.
Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking steamy in the bathroom! Okay, that still sounded bad. You know what I mean. Go into your bathroom, shut and turn your shower on super hot, so it works up a good steam throughout the room. Then settle in for a bit- say around 10-15 minutes.
You can also make a steam facial the old fashioned way- by bringing a pot of water to just under a boil, draping a towel over your head and leaning over the pot. Add a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint to the water for an extra kick. One word of caution: if you have asthma, steam may not be the best natural home remedy for a cough for you. Check with your doc first.
Salt water is one of those things that is so simple, you’re almost shocked when it works. I use it as a home remedy for a toothache all the time, but it also works for dry coughs. Just gargle with it in the back of your throat to help add some moisture.
Chicken Noodle to the Rescue!
Everyone knows chicken noodle soup is good for colds. They even proved it scientifically! It’s also fantastic for a cough, both dry and gunky. Just about everyone has a favorite recipe. Mine is OurFamilyWorld’s best chicken noodle soup recipe. It’s incredibly easy to make and totally customizable based on the pasta and veggies you have on hand. No one wants to run to the store when they’re sick, after all!
Eat Some Candy!
Here’s a great excuse to eat candy, but only certain types. Licorice is a great natural remedy for coughs BUT it has to be the real stuff, flavored with the actual plant. Old-fashioned candy stores often have the real deal. Here’s the kicker: in moderation, it’s okay, but licorice can actually be pretty dangerous to people with certain medical conditions (especially heart disease and kidney problems) or when consumed in massive amounts. It’s also not good for pregnant women. If you’re having surgery within two weeks, avoid licorice, as it can mess with your blood pressure.
If you’re scared off licorice now (or just don’t like it), sour candy is also pretty fantabulous. I love Claeys Old Fashioned Lemon Drops. I lived on them when I was pregnant because they’re also great for nausea. I know it’s weird, but sour candy really does sooth a sour stomach! In a pinch, many types of hard candy will help a dry cough, but the sour candies get your saliva going into overdrive, which helps soothe and coat your throat.
Other natural and home remedies for a cough
In the process of researching the scientific aspects of this post, I came across a lot of remedies for coughing that I’ve never tried, but seemed interesting. I also came across some really scary ones that made me think people should stop trying to treat themselves at home until they develop common sense, but I’m not going to share those here. Check out a few of the more interesting (and relatively safe) home cough remedies that I came across. As always, check with your doctor before trying any home remedy if you have a medical condition or if you’re taking medications. Even something as mundane as an onion can be dangerous to the wrong person.
- Onion juice: make a juice by mixing chopped onion with sugar until a liquid forms, drink it.
- Combine cinnamon and honey into a cup of hot tea
- One word: pepper. Pepper in your honey, pepper in your tea, pepper in your pepper. Pepper seems to be one of the most popular home remedies for a cough! I don’t like plain table pepper though.
- Mentholated rub on your feet, then apply socks. I have heard that this really works, but I always forget to try it!
- Make a tea out of star anise herb (you’ll need a tea ball or tea bags for this)
- Eat dark chocolate (now THIS, I’m willing to try!)
With all these home remedies for coughs, you should be able to find something to help relieve the hacking until your cold passes. I like to start with the tastiest and work my way through!
Do you have any remedies for coughing that I missed? Share in the comments!