Nobody likes to cough. It feels terrible, it hurts your throat and your lungs, and a really bad cough can keep you – and everyone else in your family – awake all night long. You can use over-the-counter cough syrups, but oftentimes they contain chemicals and additives. Why put unnatural and potential harmful things into your body when you can use a simple, all-natural remedy instead?
Before we discuss the remedy, let’s talk about coughing – what is it, and what causes it?
What Is Coughing?
A cough is a reflexive contraction of your lungs. Most typically, you will cough when the nerve endings in your airway are irritated by something. Coughs can be productive (meaning that when you cough, mucus is expelled from your lungs) or non-productive (a dry, hacking cough that produces no mucus.) Some things that may cause coughing include:
- A cold or other upper respiratory infection
- Viruses such as the flu
- Bacterial infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis
- Raising your voice or yelling for a prolonged period of time, such as at a concert or in a loud bar
- Exposure to cigarette smoke or other environmental irritants
When you have excess mucus in your lungs, as you would if you had bronchitis or pneumonia, a cough is a signal that your body is trying to protect you by expelling the mucus from your lungs. In such instances, it is important to let the cough do what it is supposed to do – clear out your lungs. However, you can certainly use the remedy in this article to sooth your cough before sleep. When a cough is the result of simple irritation or a cold, you may not have mucus in your lungs. In that case, it is fine to sooth the cough and not worry about expelling mucus.
If you have a very severe cough that lasts more than three weeks, you should certainly consult your doctor to make sure you do not have a serious condition that requires treatment. However, most coughs are not serious and may be safely treated with natural remedies such as the one listed below.
A Simple Remedy for Coughing
You are most likely accustomed to buying cough drops and cough syrup when you have a cough. Many of these products contain alcohol and chemicals that may not be good for you. Instead, try this all-natural recipe for cough drops you can make at home using items you probably already have in your pantry.
1 c. sugar
½ c. water
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. raw, natural honey (use Manuka honey if you can get it)
½ tsp. ground ginger or a 1-inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
¼ tsp. ground cloves
Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and stir. Add the lemon juice, honey, ginger and cloves, and stir to combine. Put the pan on high heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. When it does, stir it and turn down the heat. Continue to simmer it on low heat for another 15 or 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the mixture thickens. Remove it from the heat, and let it cool for fifteen minutes, at which point it should be dark brown in color, and syrupy. If you used fresh ginger, make sure to remove it from the mixture at this point.
While the mixture cools, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You can also use a silpat if you have one. Using a spoon, drop small amounts of the mixture onto the sheet. The mixture will be extremely hot, so use caution while doing this. Let the drops cool completely – this will take at least 20 minutes – and then dust them with a very thin layer of confectioner’s sugar. This will keep them from sticking to one another. Remove them from the parchment paper and toss again to make sure they are completely coated. You can store them in a plastic container or tin lined with parchment paper.
Use the drops as you would any other cough drop. You can also dissolve a couple in a cup of hot water and drink it – the hot water will help to sooth your throat.
The reason this remedy works so well is that many of the ingredients have properties that are very helpful in treating coughs:
These cough drops taste delicious – much more so than store-bought varieties. You can keep some on hand and use them for anyone in your family who has a cough. Again, a very serious cough should be checked out by your doctor. While these drops are effective, they should not be used as the sole treatment for severe coughs such as those caused by bronchitis or pneumonia. Those conditions may require an antibiotic prescription to clear them up.
If you don’t have these cough drops on hand or you run out, try simply eating a teaspoonful of honey and letting it coat your throat. It can also be helpful to add honey to soothing herbal teas, such as teas made with lemon, lemon balm, ginger, cinnamon and eucalyptus.
The next time you or someone in your family has a cough, skip the harsh chemicals and go the natural route. You will be amazed at the results this simple remedy can have.