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Try out some of these natural remedies for a cough before reaching for the medicine cabinet straight away! After all, chocolate tastes much better than a tablet ever could...
A cough is one of the most common seasonal ailments, making you feel under the weather, in need of a day under the duvet and some strong cough remedies. But instead of reaching for the medicine cabinet as the best way to cure your cough, why not try some natural cough remedies to alleviate the symptoms?
Natural cough remedies that you can make yourself range from old wives tales to those that you’ve never even heard of before, but they all avoid the pharmacy.
Although a doctor’s visit isn’t a necessity for all colds, if you are wondering how to treat a persistent cough, it is best to visit your GP in case the cough is a symptom of another problem rather than just starting to treat a cough with natural remedies.
Home remedies for a cough:
Thyme has antibacterial, antifungal and expectorant (ridding the body of excess mucus) properties. One study showed that a fluid extract containing thyme herb and ivy leaves helped to reduce coughing fits in a group of adults suffering from acute bronchitis with productive cough. While it may not have quite the same effect you may want to try steeping time leaves in hot water for 15-20 minutes to make a tea to try and ease your cough.
Apparently dreams do come true – recent scientific studies have shown that chocolate is actually better at treating a cough than standard medicine!
According to Dr Sarah Jarvis, this is due to two reasons: the first being that chocolate, like honey, ‘forms a sticky coating on the throat that can protect the nerve endings which get irritated when you have a cold’, therefore helping to calm the cough itself.
The second finding is that cocoa contains a substance called theobromine, which ‘has proved to be quite promising in studies looking a suppressing coughs.’ The theobromine is believed to help with coughs as it cuts down the body’s need to splutter.
These reasons give us excuse enough to treat ourselves! However, before tucking in on a whole load of chocolate at once, it’s important to know that there is a certain way that you need to eat it in order for it to help as a natural cough remedy: by slowly sucking on a single square of dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate has less sugar and higher doses of cocoa than the milky version, which will provide a quick relief for a tickly throat.
This has got to be one of our favourite natural cough remedies.
Honey and homemade cough syrups
We’ve all heard that honey does a great job of soothing irritated throats – it’s known to be a substance that relieves irritation with high viscosity (not to mention it is really sticky), so coats your mucus membranes completely and soothes the scratch. Patients are now being advised to use this sweet ingredient instead of using antibiotics which are often ineffective and could help counteract the surge in antibiotic resistance.
Dr Susan Hopkins, a deputy director at Public Health England, said: ‘Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem, and we need to take action now to reduce antibiotic use.
‘These new guidelines will support GPs to reduce antibiotic prescriptions and we encourage patients to take their GP’s advice about self-care.’
Instead of just adding honey to water, make it even more effective by adding a pinch of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. People also sometimes combine a squeeze of honey with hot water, a slice of lemon and some fresh ginger which has soothing, anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger and garlic
Our grandma always used to say that ginger and garlic were good for a cold, and now science has proved she was right! Ginger and garlic contain anti-viral agents which make a fantastic cold remedy and will reduce the length of your cough. To make ginger and garlic edible you should blend fresh ginger root with a few cloves of fresh garlic and a little water to make a paste, then add a small amount to hot water, stir and drink throughout the day.
Read more: Home remedies for colds
The sweet licorice herb has been used for centuries to as one of the natural cough remedies treat sore throats and alleviate coughing. Similarly to honey, it is a demulcent, which works to coat the irritated membranes in your throat and calm down the cough. Healthline.com also reports that a study of mice found that components in licorice decreased cough frequency by between 30 and 78%. Place one teaspoon of the dried herb into two cups of water and boil. Allow it to steep before drinking. Equally, many cough syrups contain licorice extract. But licorice root is not suitable to give to children, so it’s best to only use for yourself.
Pineapple might not seem like one of the most conventional natural cough remedies, especially on a dark winter’s evening when you’d much rather have a cup of hot chocolate than a pina colada. But bromelain, an enzyme found in the flesh of the tropical fruit, has been proven to suppress coughs and loosen mucus in the throat, the perfect treatment for a cough and a great natural remedy. Make sure you eat fresh pineapple, rather than a smoothie or dried versions for the best results.
Learn a new coughing technique
This natural remedy might sound a little speculative, but it’s great if you’ve been suffering with a cough for more than a week and your throat is feeling strained. Next time you feel a cough coming on, instead of coughing normally force yourself to take small, gentle, shallow coughs and end on a large one if you need to.
Smaller coughs encourage the mucus higher up your throat so it can leave your body, leaving you feeling less congested in general – once the phlegm is out of your system, that is!