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9 Home Remedies for Coughs

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.