When my baby boy woke up the other morning with what appeared to be an upper respiratory infection, I was pretty desperate to find something that would help him fight it off quickly.
He was wheezing, and lethargic, and his breathing was rapid- as if he couldn’t get a full breath. Every time I got him out of his crib, he would just lay himself down on the floor and suck his thumb with his eyes half closed. It was a little frightening, to be honest. There was no fever, just a bad, very deep cough.
I scoured the internet for treatments, and I found a ton – some of which might surprise you! If you’re looking to cure a cough naturally, or even just to treat it, here are some ideas for you to try.
My Personal Favorite: The Garlic Salve
I immediately hit all of my herbal books, looking for something that would treat RSV type symptoms and cure a cough quickly. And I came across a recipe for a garlic salve in the book Be Your Own Doctor by Rachel Weaver, M.H.
I had all of the ingredients on hand, and I’m a total believer in the healing power of garlic, so I knew this was the one to try.
- 1/3 cup Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic peeled
- 5 drops lavender essential oil
- Pour everything into a blender and mix until smooth.
- Strain off the bits of garlic.
- Store the liquid in a wide-mouth glass jar in the fridge. It will solidify as it cools.
- If your child has super sensitive skin, you might try adding more coconut oil and olive oil.
Pour everything into a blender and mix until smooth. Strain off the bits of garlic, and store the liquid in a wide-mouth glass jar in the fridge. It will solidify as it cools. If your child has super sensitive skin, you might try adding more coconut oil and olive oil.
Apply liberally to the chest, back, and bottoms of feet (covered with socks) at least four times a day, and as often as every couple of hours, as needed. This isn’t something that you can overdose on, so don’t be afraid to use too much. If it doesn’t seem to be working, use more!
I made the salve, and slathered it on baby Elias’ chest, back, and the bottoms of his feet about every 2 hours or so throughout the day, and even a few times during the night.
I also ran a humidifier in his room and put some of the salve with a couple of drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil in the cup where the Vapor Rub is supposed to go.
About half way through the day I also started rubbing oregano essential oil (1 drop diluted in 1/4 tsp. coconut oil) over the salve on his body.
By the next morning, his breathing was perfectly normal again, and he was actually up and playing! He still had a cough, but it now sounded looser, like it was more productive.
That garlic salve, along with the oregano oil REALLY worked wonders. I can’t tell you how relieved I was! This is now my go-to aid for treating coughs and supporting the immune system!
When you’re sick, it’s important that you stay hydrated. In fact, drinking plenty of liquids can help alleviate the discomfort of a cough, as coughs are often made worse by dry conditions.
Warm liquids can help soothe a cough even more. The best options are warm water, decaffeinated tea, and clear broth.
Avoid Triggering Foods
If you have acid reflux or another medical condition, there are all kinds of foods that can trigger a cough. Avoiding trigger foods is one easy way to prevent a cough from ever arising at all.
Every person will have different triggers, but generally, if you have a cough you are going to want to avoid alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, dairy, fried foods, garlic, and spicy foods. Tomato- or onion-based foods can also be problematic for some people, but this varies.
Clean it Up
If your home is filled with allergens or inhaled irritants of any kind, you’re probably going to have a cough – that’s straightforward enough! Take some time to clean away mold, pollen, dust, perfumes, or other allergens.
You might need to wash all of your sheets and linens in hot water or scrub with a bleach solution. Investing in a HEPA-filter vacuum and air purifier can also help relieve and prevent a cough.
If the culprit behind your cough is upper airway inflammation, irrigating your sinuses might help heal your coughing. Use a Neti Pot or bulb syringe to flush your sinuses with saltwater. It’s unpleasant at first, but you’ll feel much better afterward.
If you’re suffering from a dry cough, steam can help loosen things up. Either take a hot shower or long bath and let the bathroom fill with steam.
Allow yourself to remain in the steam for several minutes – your symptoms should subside. If you find yourself sweating a lot after this steam treatment, drink a tall glass of water to prevent dehydration.
Tea with Honey
This one’s a classic – likely a treatment your grandma, your great-grandma, and even her great-grandma before relied on!
If you drink a cup of tea with some honey, you’re going to find that your cough becomes much less severe. The best honey to use is a dark honey, since it will supply the greatest relief from your cough.
For best results, mix together two teaspoons of honey with an herbal tea, like Echinacea or green tea. It will not only make you feel better, but it will taste great, too!
Bromelain is a unique enzyme that comes from pineapples. It has long been recommended as a treatment for sinus infections and other ailments. It’s also really good at relieving a cough.
Found in the core of the pineapple, bromelain has anti-inflammatory and mucolytic properties, helping to break down mucus and remove it from your body.
You can drink pineapple juice every day to reduce mucus, but it’s generally agreed that there isn’t enough concentrated bromelain in juice to relieve symptoms.
If you have access to a health foods’ store, taking a bromelain supplement might be a better option. Just keep in mind that it is possible to be allergic to bromelain – which of course can make your coughing and other symptoms worse!
Ginger is a natural spice that not only helps to soothe a cough but also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It can improve your immune functioning – preventing those nasty coughs from appearing in the first place – and can also relieve nausea.
Simply brew a few fresh ginger slices in a cup of hot water, just like you would tea. Let them steep for a few minutes. If you don’t like how ginger tastes, you can always add lemon or honey.
All kinds of mint are good at healing, but peppermint is particularly good at healing a cough. The menthol in the mint soothes your throat and also serves as a decongestant – breaking down mucus.
Either inhale peppermint vapor from a diffuser or steam bath or drink peppermint tea. Both methods are effective at relieving a painful cough!
If you’re suffering from a cough, rub some eucalyptus oil on your chest. It can also be used ina vaporizer or diffuser.
Elderberry is an effective herbal remedy that can be taken as a supplement or as as yrup. It’s a slow acting treatment, but can often help prevent more coughing and other symptoms in the future.
Marshmallow root is an herb with a fun-sounding name – it has long been used as a treatment for sore throat and cough. It eases irritation from coughing because it has high amounts of mucilage.
Licorice root is an expectorant, which means it thins your mucus so you can cough it up more easily. You might not find that the duration of the coughing becomes shorter, but it will likely alleviate some of your symptoms over time.
Mucilage…now doesn’t that sound pleasant? Mucilage is a thick substance that acts like glue and coats your throat, making it a less hospitable environment for germs and allowing you to clear your throat more easily.
You can take marshmallow root as a dried herb or you can steep it in a tea. The longer you steep the tea, the more mucilage will be in your beverage. Just keep in mind that it can cause an upset stomach if you consume too much of it!
Ground flax is really good at soothing your body’s cough reflex. You can combine two tablespoons of flaxseeds in one cup of boiling water. Let the water become thick – it will look a bit like coffee. Strain it, then add some honey and lemon juice for flavor before drinking.
Oregon Grape Root
A less common herbal remedy, Oregon grape root is super helpful when you are trying to relieve your cough. It contains an ingredient known as berberine, which has anti-inflammatory properties. It is best mixed with seltzer water to heal a sore throat and cough.
Apple Cider Vinegar
When mixed with honey, apple cider vinegar can help thin your mucus and alleviate coughing. It doesn’t’ taste great – so the honey can help.
Milk and Turmeric
I know, I said avoid dairy products – but this is one that might help. Mixed with turmeric, warm milk can fight cough because turmeric has powerful antioxidant properties. The milk will make it easier for you to fall asleep and will also coat your throat to allow the turmeric to do its work.
The flowers of the mullein plant can be steeped and put into a tea – this is a super effective way of alleviating a cough.
Oregano oil can be bitter, burning a bit when you are already sick, but it works super well. Just a ply a single drop of oregano oil to each side of your tongue and let it slide back into your throat.
It will make you cough a bit at first, but over time, it will stop your coughing because it kills germs and triggers your immune system to heal your throat.
Thyme is a popular treatment for sore throat, cough, bronchitis, digestive issues, and other problems. It boosts your immune system and can also help relive cough with its antioxidants.
You can take a thyme supplement, but most people find it more effective to make a thyme tea. There are also some cough syrups that contain thyme.
Black Pepper and Sugar
For whatever reason, black pepper and sugar, when combined at a ratio of one teaspoon each and dropped into boiling water, are particularly effective together to ease a nighttime cough.
You’ll notice that the black pepper will settle to the bottom of your “tea,” but that’s okay – just sip the mixture as needed.
This is more of a preventative method than a cure, but it’s worth mentioning. Probiotics can boost your immune system by leveling out the numbers of good and bad bacteria there.
If you have a strong immune system, you’re going to have a much easier time warding off illnesses. One bacteria in particular, Lactobacillus, is especially helpful.
Gargle with Saltwater
If you’re suffering from a wet cough, consider gargling with saltwater. This can not only relieve your cough but it can also reduce the amount of mucus in the back of your throat, helping to relieve a sore throat, too.
A classic Native American treatment, slippery elm bark is used to treat both digestive issues as well as a severe cough. Like marshmallow root, it also contains a high level of mucilage and can help heal your sore throat.
Make a slippery elm tea by combining a teaspoon of it in dried form to hot water – steep for ten minutes.
Do you have a favorite home remedy to cure a cough and cold?
updated 12/04/2019 by Rebekah White