9 Home Remedies for Coughs


©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Eating garlic raw is great for aiding a hacking cough. If you can't swallow that home remedy there are many others that help as well.

The common cough can be harmless, but it can also signify a more serious illness.  Learn more about the reasons why we cough and how to treat it with a few simple home remedies.

Hampering the Hack

Annoying, loud, and disruptive, a persistent cough can put a damper on your daily routine. Coughs can be defined by how long they last. A brief cough is caused by such factors as cold air, irritating fumes, breathing dust, or drawing food into the airways. A persistent cough, however, typically results from mucus and other secretions brought on by respiratory disorders such as the cold, the flu, pneumonia, or tuberculosis. (Note: A persistent cough always should be checked by a doctor, as it also can be a symptom of a serious medical condition, such as cancer.)

Moisture content also differentiates coughs. Some are dry, accompanied by a ticklish or sore throat. Others are accompanied by a thick phlegm and are called wet coughs.

A Beneficial Reflex

Regardless of time and moisture content, a cough is produced when viruses, bacteria, dust, pollen, or other foreign substances irritate respiratory passages in the throat and lungs. The cough reflex is the body's effort to rid the passageways of such intruders, and it spares no power in the expulsion. A cough reflex can expel a foreign substance at velocities as high as 100 miles per hour.

Determine what kind of cough you have and search out cures specific to that type. Some remedies aim to moisten dry throats, while others are expectorants, helping you cough up and get rid of mucus and irritants. Most of these kitchen cures aim to battle both coughs, unless otherwise noted.

From the Home Remedies Candy Jar

Licorice. If you love licorice, you're in for a treat with this remedy. Many folk remedies use licorice root to treat coughs and bronchial problems. It serves not only as a flavoring agent but also as a demulcent (a substance that soothes inflamed or irritated throats) and an expectorant. Real licorice or candy that's actually made with real licorice (look for "licorice mass" on the label) works best. Reach into your candy jar and slice up 1 ounce licorice sticks. Add 1 quart boiling water and steep for 24 hours. Drink throughout the day, adding a teaspoon of honey for sweetness. If you can't find real licorice in your part of the country, try horehound, another old-fashioned candy that is a demulcent and helps to relieve coughs.

We've got a few home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of a cough on the next page.

For more information about coughs and how to treat them, try the following links:

  • To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
  • A more serious cough usually accompanies bronchitis.  Read about this illness in Home Remedies For Bronchitis.
  • Starve a Cold/Feed a Fever? Learn the best approach in Home Remedies For Colds.
  • Don't get knocked out by the flu this year.  Keep from getting sick in the first place, and get better if you do, by following these Home Remedies For The Flu.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Home Remedy Treatments for Coughs

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Pepper is more than a spice. This home remedy can assist you with that nagging cough.

To take away the sting of a cough, and to keep from coughing in the first place, you should try some of these easy home remedies.  The good news is, a little goes a long way.

From the Home Remedies Cupboard

Garlic. Eating garlic won't have you winning any kissing contests, but who wants to kiss you when you sound like a seal? Since kissing isn't on your agenda, you can indulge in one of nature's best cures for coughs: garlic. It's full of antibiotic and antiviral properties; plus, garlic is also an expectorant, so it helps you cough up stubborn bacteria and/or mucus that are languishing in your lungs.

Some experts advise that to reap garlic's full cold- and flu-fighting benefits, you have to eat it raw. Yet swallowing 4 to 8 raw garlic cloves a day (the recommended amount) is hard for most people to stomach. Cheat a little by mixing the cloves into plain yogurt and putting a dollop on your soup. If you make a pasta sauce, put the garlic in at the last moment (because heat can spoil raw garlic's effectiveness), or toss garlic slices into your salad.

A cup of garlic broth may do the trick for your cough, too, and it is easy to prepare. Smash 1 to 3 cloves garlic (depending on how strong you like your garlic), add 2 quarts water, and boil on low heat for one hour. Strain and sip slowly. You can also chop up some garlic cloves and toss them into that pot of chicken soup (again, at the last moment so the garlic remains essentially raw).

Honey. Honey has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for coughs because it's a natural expectorant, promoting the flow of mucus. This is the simple recipe: Mix 1 tablespoon honey into 1 cup hot water and enjoy. Now how sweet is that? Squeeze some lemon juice in if you want a little tartness. Before bedtime, adults may add 1 tablespoon brandy or whiskey to aid in sleep.

From the Home Remedies Refrigerator

Ginger. Ginger, which has antiviral properties, shares the limelight with licorice and anise in this cough remedy. To make ginger-licorice-anise tea, combine 2 teaspoons freshly chopped ginger root, 2 teaspoons aniseed, and if available, 1 teaspoon dried licorice root in 2 cups boiling water. Cover and steep for ten minutes. Strain and sweeten with 1 or 2 teaspoons honey. Drink 1/2 cup, every one to two hours, but no more than 3 whole cups a day.

We've got a few home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of a cough on the next page.

For more information about coughs and how to treat them, try the following links:

  • To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
  • A more serious cough usually accompanies bronchitis.  Read about this illness in Home Remedies For Bronchitis.
  • Starve a Cold/Feed a Fever?  Learn the best approach in Home Remedies For Colds.
  • Don't get knocked out by the flu this year.  Keep from getting sick in the first place, and get better if you do, by following these Home Remedies For The Flu.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

More Home Remedies for Coughs

The additional home remedies found below are easy to locate and should help to some of the symptoms of your cough.  They'll make your dinner taste great as well!

From the Home Remedies Spice Rack

Mustard seed. An irritating but useful spice for wet coughs, mustard seed has sulfur-containing compounds that stimulate the flow of mucus. To get the full effect of the expectorant compounds, the mustard seeds must be broken and allowed to sit in water for 15 minutes. Crush 1 teaspoon mustard seeds or grind them in a coffee grinder. Place the seeds in a cup of warm water. Steep for 15 minutes. This concoction might be a little hard to swallow, so take it in 1/4-cup doses throughout the day.

Pepper. Pepper is a bit of an irritant (don't try sniffling it!), but this characteristic is a plus for those suffering from coughs accompanied by thick mucus. The irritating property of pepper stimulates circulation and the flow of mucus in the airways and sinuses. Place 1 teaspoon black pepper into a cup, and sweeten things up with the addition of 1 tablespoon honey. Fill with boiling water, steep for 10 to 15 minutes, stir, and sip.

Salt. A saltwater gargle is a simple solution to a cough, although you have to remain devoted to gargling to get results. Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt into 4 ounces warm water. Mix and gargle. Repeat this every one to two hours each day for best results. The salt, combined with soothing warm water, acts as an astringent to help ease irritated and inflamed throat tissues and loosen mucus.

Thyme. Store-bought cough syrups are often so medicinal tasting that it's hard to get them down without gagging. Here's a sweet, herbal version, made of thyme, peppermint, mullein, licorice, and honey, that's guaranteed to go down the hatch easily. Thyme and peppermint help clear congested air passages and have antimicrobial and antispasmodic properties to relieve the hacking. Mullein and licorice soothe irritated membranes and help reduce inflammation.

To make the syrup, combine 2 teaspoons each, dried thyme, peppermint, mullein, and licorice root into 1 cup boiling water. Cover and steep for half an hour. Strain and add 1/2 cup honey. If the honey doesn't dissolve, heat the tea gently and stir. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to three months. Take 1 teaspoon as needed.

From the Home Remedies Stove

Chicken soup. Take some advice from your grandma: Sip a bowl of chicken soup. It doesn't matter if it's homemade or canned; chicken soup is calming for coughs associated with colds. While scientists can't put a finger on why this comfort food benefits the cold sufferer, they do believe chicken soup contains anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent a cold's miserable side effects, one being the cough. Plus, chicken soup contains cysteine, which thins phlegm. The broth, chock-full of electrolytes, keeps you hydrated -- although for hydration, homemade soup is best. (Commercially prepared chicken soup is loaded with salt, which may actually dehydrate you.) The steam helps soothe irritated mucous membranes and air passageways. Last, but not least, it tastes yummy.

Steam. One of the kitchen's best remedies for a cough is also one of the easiest. Inhaling steam helps flush out mucus, and it moisturizes dry, irritated air passageways. Fill a cooking pot one-quarter full with water. Boil, turn off the heat, and if available, add a couple drops essential oil of eucalyptus or a scoop of Mentholatum or Vicks VapoRub. (These work as decongestants and expectorants.) Carefully remove the pot from the stove, and place it on a protected counter or table. Drape a towel over your head, lean over the pot, and breathe gently for 10 to 15 minutes. Don't stick your face too far into the pot or you'll get a poached nose.

For more information about coughs and how to treat them, try the following links:

  • To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
  • A more serious cough usually accompanies bronchitis.  Read about this illness in Home Remedies For Bronchitis.
  • Starve a Cold/Feed a Fever?  Learn the best approach in Home Remedies For Colds.
  • Don't get knocked out by the flu this year.  Keep from getting sick in the first place, and get better if you do, by following these Home Remedies For The Flu.

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.