1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Natural Remedies for Cough

By

Updated March 08, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

A cough is a reflex that helps clear foreign substances from your lungs and airways.

What Causes Coughing?

In many cases, coughing occurs as a symptom of a short-term illness, such as the common cold, bronchitis, or the flu.

Chronic coughs, on the other hand, may be caused by one of the following conditions:

Chronic cough may also result from smoking or from use of some medications.

If your cough lasts longer than two to three weeks, consult your physician to check for an underlying health problem.

Natural Cough Remedies

Although they won't cure the condition causing your cough, the following may provide natural cough relief:

1) Honey

In a 2009 study, researchers found that honey may decrease the frequency and severity of cough more effectively than the over-the-counter cough-suppressing drug dextromethorphan. Try adding honey to tea, or taking a spoonful on its own.

2) Marshmallow

Compounds extracted from marshmallow (an herb said to soothe irritated tissue) may provide significant cough-suppressing benefits, according to an animal study published in 2007. Marshmallow can be taken in tea form.

3) Mullein

Available in lozenge, powder, and supplement form, mullein is a common weed that contains compounds said to act as demulcents (substances that relieve irritation or inflammation in the throat) and expectorants (agents for loosening mucus and making it easier to cough up). Although mullein hasn't been specifically studied for its effects on cough, it has long been used to treat coughs in herbal medicine.

Home Remedies for Cough

Drinking plenty of water or warm tea can help loosen mucus and treat throat irritation resulting from cough.

If your cough is the result of a cold or flu, consider performing a eucalyptus steam inhalation to help relieve nasal congestion and sinus congestion.

Sources:

Dealleaume L, Tweed B, Neher JO. "Do OTC remedies relieve cough in acute upper respiratory infections?" J Fam Pract. 2009 58(10):559a-c.

Sutovska M, Nosalova G, Franova S, Kardosova A. "The antitussive activity of polysaccharides from Althaea officinalis l., var. Robusta, Arctium lappa L., var. Herkules, and Prunus persica L., Batsch." Bratisl Lek Listy. 2007;108(2):93-9.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.