Allergens, sinus drainage and bacteria are all common causes for cough. Any irritant that can be inhaled, swallowed, or otherwise injure and burn the throat and chest would induce coughing. Coughing is a natural safety mechanism to clear pathogens and mucus from the airways, but prolonged coughing can cause raw throat, chest ache, muscle soreness and fatigue. Those with chronic cough can face other miserable symptoms for a very long period of time; cough is the longest-lasting symptom of allergies and the common cold, often plaguing patients for 4-6 weeks.
The best way to treat cough is to first treat the source of the cough. This could mean preventing mucus buildup and drainage, or introducing antihistamines to the body to keep the reflex from occurring. Whatever the cause, natural remedies can soothe the effects caused by cough and treat cough altogether. Read on to find alternative dietary cough relief:
Honey is known to relieve sore throat by coating the throat and blocking the walls of the throat from cough-causing mucus. Studies show that honey also provides the body with antihistamines that can prevent mucus buildup over time. Honey can block incoming pathogens that would trigger the sinuses to produce excess mucus. Some patients swallow a tablespoon of organic honey, but honey can also be added to teas, or as marinade or topping in other foods.
Citrus can treat cough as a symptom of excess phlegm, or nose or throat irritation. Citrus, especially orange, lemon, or grapefruit, carries small doses of quercetin. Quercetin will stimulate the flow of mucus and help clear nasal passages, which will reduce coughing much more quickly. When you cannot stop mucus from producing, it is best to clear the throat and chest of mucus as soon as possible to alleviate cough—this entails thinning mucus with quercetin and removing its liability to irritate. Eat orange slices, drink orange teas, or inhale orange-laced steams or other aromas. In place of oranges, lemons and grapefruits achieve similar results.
Eucalyptus works in a roundabout fashion when it comes to chest cough. Often, the body will induce coughing to try and clear the chest of mucus, to no avail. This leads to prolonged coughing with no results. Eucalyptus is a natural “expectorant;” it helps loosen phlegm from the walls of the lungs and makes coughing more effective. When mucus is cleared and stops irritating the lungs, the coughing will cease. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a simmering, steaming pot of water and thoroughly inhale. If you don’t like the scent of eucalyptus, try tea tree oil for a similar effect.
Some may think to steer clear of licorice, often sold in candies with refined sugar, as a coughing remedy. In reality, organic licorice works like honey and coats the throat, eliminating mucus irritation. Licorice also produces a stress hormone, cortisol, which in this instance reduces inflammation. Licorice does treat the symptoms of coughing over coughing itself; it should be taken as a symptom relief remedy while the cough is treated with other alternative remedies. Boil dry licorice root into a tea and drink twice daily for cough relief.
Thyme activates the coughing muscles alone, resisting their urge to cough when exposed to pathogens or stimuli. In conjunction with an active mucus-reducing remedy, thyme can effectively quiet or eliminate cough. Thyme sedates the throat and chest muscles prone to receiving cough signals from the brain. Thyme also has very anciently-noted bacteria fighting microbes. Centuries of cultures used the herb to fight or prevent diseases with its smoke or with thyme-infused tea. Thyme can be added to a steam and inhaled, rubbed onto the throat and chest as a poultice, eaten in foods or—most effectively—brewed in tea with honey to coat the throat.
Spices may provoke mucus buildup, but in this instance will thin mucus and cause mucus draining. This allows the patient to more easily cough mucus from the chest, or clear mucus from the sinuses before it can drain down the throat. Eating different peppers and steam remedies combined can fight cough and relieve the patient.
Historically, black peppercorns can provoke thinning mucus, act as an expectorant, or induce sneezing, which rids the nose of pathogens that later cause mucus buildup and cough. Pepper can be added to foods, but black pepper can also be added to tea in the form of flakes. Inhaling steam made with pepper tea is fine, but do not inhale pepper flakes by themselves.
Ginger performs multiple duties. The flavinols in ginger reduce inflammation and irritation that can cause muscle spasms and coughing in the first place; in much the same manner, ginger can calm the stomach and reduce nausea. But, ginger is still a hot root with its own share of spice. Ginger loosens mucus from the lung walls and promotes healthy, painless coughing. After the mucus is cleared, ginger’s flavinols can keep the muscles from coughing thereafter. As with many of these remedies, ginger works best if drank in a tea, or if ginger-infused steam is inhaled.
Peppermint essential oils relieve cough by clearing congestion and helping the lungs remove mucus from your body. Peppermint also thins mucus in the sinuses and clears the nasal cavities, helping you breathe easier and thus cough less. Peppermint aromas work just as well as the peppermint essential oils. Many people use the oil as a natural cough syrup and can take one tablespoon for cough relief. Others find that peppermint works best as a tea, or as an infused steam. Brew peppermint tea and inhale the steam prior to drinking. Or, use the essential oils as a rub, and rub the oil into the chest and neck to let the skin absorb the peppermint’s nutrients.
Many of these remedies call for steam—all essential remedies are best delivered in infused steam, as steam both warms and permeates the delicate, complex sinus cavities and clears mucus from all its pores. Steam, plus alternative dietary remedies, help alleviate cough symptoms. Which cough remedies do you love the most?