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It is that time of year that coughs, colds, congestion, and runny noses are running rampant! With school back in session and the fall weather just around the corner, it's only a matter of time before you find yourself or your family with a nasty incessant cough causing everyone to lose sleep. This month, September, I have dubbed the month of natural medicine. To prepare for this upcoming cold and flu season, I will be sharing with you all sorts of homemade natural remedies for the ailments you might experience this coming season. Today's post is on coughs!
There are two types of coughs
There are two types of coughs, dry unproductive coughs, and wet productive coughs. Dry and wet coughs are not the same type of coughs and both have different needs for treating them.
Unproductive Dry Cough – Dry unproductive coughs have the tell-tale signs of an incessant tickling in the throat and have intense bouts of hacking or spastic coughs. Sometimes these coughs can even be accompanied by difficulty breathing or even talking. Dry coughs can be caused by a plethora of reasons such as the common cold, laryngitis, asthma, bronchitis, upper respiratory infections, sinus problems, and sometimes even pneumonia. It is best with a dry cough, to address the problems so that sleep is not interrupted, for proper healing. Soothing anti-inflammatory herbs are the best choices for dry unproductive coughs. Rubbing vapor rub on your feet and covering them with socks is also a really great help when trying to ease cough symptoms for a good night's rest.
Productive Wet Cough – A wet cough is very obvious with the constant production of mucus and phlegm. Symptoms can include a phlegmy feeling in the chest and throat, as well as coughing up yellow/brown/green mucus. Wet coughs are most often caused by the presence of excess mucus in the upper respiratory tract, usually common with a cold, the flu, or allergies and hay fever. Hot steamy remedies are the best for wet coughs, such as hot tea, soup, baths, and steams, which all help to loosen up the phlegm and help to break up the congestion. When making a syrup for wet coughs, choose herbs that have expectorant properties, to help with expelling the phlegm from the body.
Honey is clinically proven to help heal coughs
Raw unfiltered honey (don't get any other kind, as it will not work the same and is usually processed with additives such as high fructose corn syrup) is one of those natural home remedies that everyone knows about. It's used in vet offices as a natural wound antibacterial cream, used as a sweetener in tea, to help with acne, and even to condition your hair. It's no secret how amazing honey is for healing all sorts of problems. According to the Department of Pediatrics at the Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences in Iran (Treatment Alternatives for Children);
In a comparison conducted on the effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and diphenhydramine on nightly cough and sleep quality in children and their parents. After studying 139 children, ages 24 to 60 months, researchers found honey to be more effective in controlling cough symptoms compared to conventional treatments. Additionally, honey-treated children slept more soundly through the night.
The many herbs that can help calm and soothe a cough
There have been many herbs over the centuries, that have been used to heal coughs of all types. I have scoured my books and made a list for you of the most commonly used herbs for helping to soothe a cough, no matter your need! You can pick and choose the herbs you want to try in your homemade cough syrup, though I do still give you my personal recipe down below, with the option to modify it to your own needs!
- Anise Seed – Warm and spicy, anise seed is great relieving dry painful spasmodic coughs with phlegm that is difficult to release. Spasmodic barking-like coughs also find relief with Anise seed.
- Chamomile flowers – Chamomile has a long history of medicinal use. It's natural soothing and anti-inflammatory properties make it great at helping to soothe all kinds of coughs. It's also helpful to add chamomile to your syrup for it's natural calming capabilities, to help you sleep better while getting over your cough.
- Cinnamon chips – Like ginger, cinnamon is a warming herb that helps with circulation, congestion, and boosting immunities which make it a great addition to any cold or cough syrup.
- Elecampane root – A natural expectorant Elecampane is perfect for wet phlegmy coughs that produce thick yellow/green mucus. Also great for bronchial and sinus infections that are producing colored phlegm.
- Garlic – Garlic has been used for centuries for all sorts of cold and flu symptoms, as a natural antibiotic. Not only will garlic help boost your immunities, it is a drying herb and an expectorant, making it great for wet coughs that are producing a lot of phlegm.
- Ginger root – A warming herb that has been shown to reduce inflammation, increase circulation, boost your immunities, and even help to relieve coughs and sore throats. Ginger is an all around herb that I use in all of my cold related syrups!
- Hyssop – Hyssop is a fabulous addition to any cough syrup. It's natural abilities to cool and moisten, makes it great for dry unproductive coughs. It's also a great herb to help relieve pain from sore throats as well.
- Licorice Root – Another mucilaginous herb that helps to soothe inflammation, licorice root is great for all sorts of coughs. Its mucilaginous properties make it great for dry irritated membranes, while it's also a natural expectorant, making it great for helping rid a wet productive cough of all the phlegm. Licorice root is also used in many syrups to help sweeten the flavor due to some of the bitter tasting herbs that many syrups contain.
- Marshmallow Root – Its mucilaginous and anti-inflammatory properties make marshmallow root great for dry inflamed throats. Marshmallow root is wonderful to soothe sore throats and dry irritating coughs, including bronchitis.
- Mullein Leaf – Mullein leaf has been known to be both antispasmodic and a great expectorant, making it a great remedy for deep wet coughs and spastic coughs. Mullein leaf is very effective at fighting an infection and reducing pain as well.
- Onion – Probably one of the most surprising ingredients that I find is great for all sorts of cold and flu symptoms, used for centuries to help clear a room of germs when people are ill, there are many old remedies for coughs, cold's, ear infections and more. With natural antibacterial and expectorant properties, as well as its anti-inflammatory properties, onion is a great addition to any cough syrup.
- Thyme leaf – Thyme is a powerful disinfectant and antiseptic, so it also helps to fight off colds and infections. Great for all sorts of coughs but especially for dry coughs.
- Wild Cherry Bark – A Native American medicinal staple, cherry bark has long been used for coughs and colds. Cherry bark is great at combating dry and irritable coughs. Overuse of cherry bark can be toxic. Do not use for more than 2 weeks at a time.
- Slippery Elm Bark – Another great mucilaginous herb, slippery elm is great for all sorts of coughs, helping to soothe inflamed membranes.
- Red Clover Blossoms – Used for centuries to help cleanse the body and boost the immune system, red clover has long been used to treat bronchitis and other upper respiratory infections. A warming expectorant, red clover is known to help relieve chest congestion and syrup is a really simple and easy cough syrup that works really well! In the heat of the moment, if you do not have all the herbs and ingredients to make the other syrup, this one will do in a flash!
Easy Homemade Cough Syrup (with ingredients from your pantry)
I thought it would be prudent to give you two types of cough syrup. This cough syrup is simple yet effective and contains ingredients you can grab quickly from your pantry. Sometimes you just don't have the time to acquire the ingredients for an herbal cough syrup, but your pantry does contain ingredients that are wonderfully soothing for coughs! This remedy can be whipped up in a jiffy and it really does work wonders!
- 3/4 cup raw unfiltered honey
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2-4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (you can substitute raw apple cider vinegar here if you don't have the lemons on hand)
- Combine ingredients and keep in your fridge for 4-6 weeks. This can be kept out on the counter top for up to 2 weeks. Just look for any molding as a sign that it has gone bad.
TO USE: Safe for use in children 12+ months. Take 1/2 to 1 tsp. as needed.
The Hippy Homemaker's Soothing Herbal Cough Syrup
This recipe is the one that I make in my own home for coughs and chest congestion. I have set up this recipe so that you can pick and choose which cough soothing herbs that you have on hand, to make your own Herbal Cough Syrup. You can omit the cinnamon and ginger, but they are great for coughs, circulating blood, and helping to boost your immunities. The honey can be substituted with maple syrup, vegetable glycerin, or white sugar, but raw unfiltered honey is by far the best option. It has been clinically proven to be more effective than your commercial cough syrups, plus it tastes WAY better!
- 3 cups filtered water (you can use boiled filtered water, but for the best shelf life distilled water is more of a guarantee)
- 1/4 cup licorice root (or another cough soothing herb of your choice)
- 1/4 cup wild cherry bark (or another cough soothing herb of your choice)
- 1/4 cup mullein leaf (or another cough soothing herb of your choice)
- 1 Tbsp. (or 1 stick) cinnamon chips
- 1 Tbsp. ginger root
- 1 cup raw unfiltered honey
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- In a saucepan, combine water, and herbs. Bring to a boil and reduce down to simmer for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove from heat and strain herbs with a mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Be sure to squeeze out the herbs to get all of the herbal liquid from them!
- Combine herbal liquid with raw unfiltered honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Allow to cool on the counter top before putting a lid on and storing in the fridge. Will keep in the fridge for 4-6 weeks.
TO USE: Safe for use in children 12+ months. Take 1/2 to 1 tsp. every half hour or as needed.
All information on The Hippy Homemaker is meant for educational and informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their health care provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your physician.