A spoonful of honey
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. These may help shorten how long you have the cough if it is due to bacterial infections.
Note: 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.
2. Licorice root tea
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Licorice root is both an expectorant and demulcent, simultaneously soothing your airways while loosening and thinning mucous, easing congestion. It can also ease any inflammation that may be irritating your throat.
Bring water to a boil and place the licorice root in a mug. Cover with water and steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink the entire cup up to 2 times daily.
3. Gargle with salt water
Also a popular remedy for sore throats, salt water can ease the discomfort caused by a cough the same way it helps a sore throat, through osmosis. When the concentration of salt is higher outside of the cells in your mucous membranes, water flows out of the cells to balance everything out. When water leaves the cells, swelling goes down, and discomfort is decreased. If you have a cough that happens to come along with inflamed tissue, this is a good route to take. It can also help dislodge any phlegm that’s hanging out and allow you to expel it easily.
Stir salt into water until it is thoroughly dissolved. Gargle for 15 seconds, spit and repeat with the remaining water. Rinse with plain water afterwards.
4. Steam, Steam, Steam!
Not only does the steam loosen mucous and phlegm, but you can add numerous essential oils that will impart wonderful healing benefits. These benefits (anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory) do become airborne, so you inhale them while you breathe in the steam. For this particular blend I’ve included both tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil, which can help soothe and open your airways as well as help fight off bacteria or a virus.
You will need:
-3 drops of tea tree oil
-1-2 drops of eucalyptus oil
-A bowl of water
-A soft, clean, towel
Bring enough water to a boil to halfway fill a medium size-heat proof bowl. Pour the water into it, let it cool slightly for 30-60 seconds, and add the essential oils, giving it a quick stir to release the vapors. Lean over the bowl and get as close as you can while still being comfortable. Use the towel to cover your head like a tent, trapping the steam and breathe deeply. Ideally, do this for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times a day.
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5. Tea Thyme
Thyme relaxes the muscles of the trachea and bronchi and also opens up airways. The result is less coughing and increased comfort.
Lightly bruise a handful of thyme sprigs and then place in a mug. Cover with a cup of boiling water, cover and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Add some lemon or honey to taste and drink the whole thing. Repeat 2-3 times daily as needed. It’s absolutely delightful just before bedtime.
6. Pepper & Honey
Black pepper is the world’s most traded spice, but most of its use is limited to the culinary world. What people don’t know is that it can make a great remedy for coughs that are accompanied by a lot of mucous or chest congestion. If you’ve accidently leaned too close to black pepper while it’s being grinded, you know it can make you cough or tickle your nose. This may not be fun on a regular basis, but it’s a plus if you need to expel all the nasty stuff that’s choking up your lungs. The honey adds its antibacterial properties and it makes it so the pepper isn’t too irritating. You can make black pepper “syrup” with honey, or a tea, as below. If possible, use freshly ground black pepper, as the pre-ground pepper simply seems to lose some of its punch.
You will need:
-1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1 tablespoon of honey
-1 cup of fresh water
Place the pepper and honey in a mug and then cover with boiling water. Give it stir to disperse the pepper flakes and melt in the honey. Steep for 10 minutes, stir once more, and drink in its entirety. Repeat 1-2 times a day as needed to loosen mucous.
7. Ginger Peppermint Syrup
Here you get the soothing qualities of warming ginger, all wrapped up in a delicious easy to swallow cough syrup. Spicy ginger works as an expectorant, helping loosen and expel mucous from the lungs. It can also stop the painful tickle at the back of throat that can trigger a cough if the first place, if you are experiencing a dry cough. The peppermint will also help relieve the irritating tickle of a cough.
You will need:
-3 tablespoons of chopped ginger
-1 tablespoon of dried peppermint
-4 cups of water
-1 cup of honey
Chop the ginger and add it with the peppermint to 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat so that the liquid simmer. Simmer until the liquid has been reduced by half, then strain. Let it cool slightly, and then stir in 1 cup of honey until it has been dissolved completely. Bottle and take 1 tablespoon every few hours as needed to ease your cough. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 week