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Numerous natural home remedies for cough can make it easier to cough up and relieve the cough, but they are not equally suitable for all forms of cough. In addition to runny nose and hoarseness, cough is one of the typical cold symptoms. Cough is also part of the symptoms in a number of other diseases, such as smoking cough (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; COPD), asthma, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. Home remedies can only relieve the urge to cough to a certain degree. If the symptoms persist for weeks, a doctor should be consulted.
Cough can have many causes
Coughing means exhaling violently against the still closed glottis, which then suddenly opens. The outgoing breath can reach speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour. Cough is a protective reflex that protects the airways from inspiration from foreign bodies or other penetrating stimulants. The coughing up of secretions, which usually form as a result of inflammation, is also subject to the natural reflex mechanism. Cough can be completely harmless, but this symptom persists for several weeks if a doctor is urgently consulted.
A respiratory tract infection usually begins with a dry cough. In technical terms, this is spoken of unproductive cough, since this cough is still without expectoration. If the inflammation continues, mucus develops. There are different expectorants as home remedies that you can use in addition to home remedies for cough if necessary. This slime is then coughed up as a secretion. The patient is usually consulted with the doctor about this sputum (coughed up secretion). If the secretion has turned a little greenish, there is reason to suspect that bacterial inflammation is in progress, which may require the use of an antibiotic. Most often, however, there is a viral infection in which an antibiotic does not help.
There are many helpful home remedies in naturopathy that are used for a wide variety of types of cough. However, there are also limits to nature, even if numerous studies have confirmed the evidence of herbal extracts. If the cough has lasted more than three weeks, the secretion is greenish and if symptoms such as fatigue, chronic fatigue, headache, dizziness, fever and other symptoms are added, a doctor should be consulted. However, treatment with an antibiotic does not mean that naturopathy cannot be used.
On the contrary, an accompanying treatment with plants from nature can usually support the healing very well. It should also be noted that after antibiotic therapy, the intestinal flora is usually impaired for many months. Therefore, you should rebuild the intestinal flora after antibiotic drug therapy, preferably with natural aids.
A general distinction is made between morning cough and all-day cough.
Lollipops with plant extracts
Suitable cough drops can provide initial relief from an unpleasant cough. We recommend pastilles with plant extracts from ribwort, marshmallow, mallow, thyme or Icelandic moss. You can get these in drugstores or pharmacies. The medicinal plants have an anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory effect and lie like a protective film over the irritated mucous membrane in the throat and throat. There are also cough lozenges with propolis or zinc added. Sucking the candy also brings extra moisture into the throat area, which makes it easier for the bacteria to be washed away.
Cough wraps and pads
Wraps and pads are ancient methods that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers have successfully used. A warm stimulus from outside stimulates blood circulation, a cold stimulus has an anti-inflammatory effect. In addition, the substance with which the wrap or overlay is impregnated supports the natural healing processes. When using diapers or pads, those affected must of course not freeze and must therefore always be kept warm.
Quark wrap for cough
The well-known curd wrap is mainly used for coughs that don't want to stop. For example, in children who wake up at night and are tormented by an unquenchable cough. This wrap is also helpful for bronchial tubes with mucus. The low-fat curd is applied in the middle of a tea towel, in the size of the area to be treated. The two empty ends are then struck over it. The wrap is then warmed to room temperature - for example with a hot water bottle - and placed on the chest. A wool scarf or a silk scarf comes over it. The best one in the color blue, since blue is believed to have a cooling and anti-inflammatory effect in color therapy. The wrap can remain on the body until the patient no longer wants it, i.e. also overnight.
The lemon wrap is more used for stuck cough. To do this, an unsprayed lemon is first washed and then cut into thin slices. These are placed in the middle of a cotton cloth, as many as the area to be treated requires. The empty ends of the cloth are folded over and then a little tapping on the lemon slices with your fist so that a little lemon juice can escape. Then the wrap comes on the chest and then a woolen cloth. If the patient feels an itch on the skin, which can result from the use of the lemons, the wrap must be removed. Otherwise, it can remain there for as long as those affected want it to.
Breast wraps with oil
The oil wrap is an extremely beneficial wrap. The effect depends on the essential oil used for it. It is important to pay attention to the purity when buying an essential oil. The carrier oil that is supposed to absorb the essential oil must also be of high quality. Mostly olive or almond oil is used for this. Five to six drops of essential oil are added to one hundred milliliters of carrier oil. The choice depends on the type of cough. For cramping coughs, lavender oil is the remedy of choice. Eucalyptus oil promotes expectoration, thyme has an expectorant and antitussive effect and myrrh has an expectorant and anti-inflammatory effect.
To apply the brood wrap with essential oils, a breast-wide cotton or silk cloth is soaked in the oil mixture, wrapped in aluminum foil and warmed between two hot water bottles. The compress comes on the chest and is covered again with a woolen cloth. The wrap usually stays there for about an hour, but can also be used overnight.
Potato wrap is also thought to have a positive effect on coughing, with slow, continuous heat release being the most beneficial. The potatoes are cooked soft, then wrapped in a linen cloth and crushed. To avoid burns, the whole thing should cool down briefly (the temperature can be easily controlled with your hands) and can then be placed on the chest. The potato wrap remains here until it has cooled completely. As long as possible, the patient should relax and not move.
Hay flower sachet
Pillow cases with hay flowers are also a good home remedy for coughs. In the meantime, ready-made hay flower bags can easily be purchased in stores. If the cough is stuck, they are a real treat. The sachet is heated above the steam, placed on the chest as hot as possible or bearable and wrapped in a woolen cloth. The sachet keeps its warmth for about three quarters of an hour. Then the breast is rubbed with a good oil, such as almond oil.
Inhalation with herbal vapors
Inhalations have a very pleasant effect on the airways when coughing. Herbal tea, a sea salt solution or even essential oil such as eucalyptus oil can be used. Please only add essential oils sparingly, because they are usually so intense that just a few drops in a water bowl are sufficient. If salt is used for inhalation, you can add one tablespoon per liter. More on this below. Lime blossoms, thyme and sage leaves are equally suitable for inhalation with herbal tea. Brew the tea as much as usual, you need at least a liter of it. Be careful, the vapors can be very hot - so leave the tea covered longer.
Tea recipes for cough
Mother Nature has numerous medicinal plants for cough ready, although not only skeptics are surprised that simple tea recipes can only be effective with local medicinal plants. However, it is important to know which herb works for what and against what. For all types of tea, drinking the lukewarm tea in sips is the most helpful. All the types of tea mentioned here can be refined with a little honey, as required.
anise For example, it is known as a home remedy for bloating. Anise is also found in many cough tea recipes because it contains an expectorant component. For the preparation, one to one and a half teaspoons of crushed anise are poured over with a quarter liter of boiling water and left to steep for about 10 minutes.
Linden blossom tea (Tiliae flos) is an extremely mild and tasty tea. The linden flowers have a diaphoretic, antipyretic and, above all, soothing effect on the affected mucous membranes. Take one heaped teaspoon per cup and let the tea steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
Marshmallow has a soothing effect on inflammation in the mouth and throat, but also on cough. A teaspoon of the marshmallow roots is placed in a glass and poured with cold water. After an hour and a half of drawing, the strain is taken. To make a healthy remedy without impurities, the whole thing should be heated before drinking.
fennel is especially known for its anti-flatulence effect. However, fennel is also used for coughing, especially when stuck mucus is involved. The tea is prepared from a teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds, which is poured with a quarter liter of boiling water and strained after ten minutes.
Even a tea Cowslips can be used against cough. This is either produced as a tea infusion with boiling water from the flowers of the cowslips, which has to take about five minutes to be drawn and then strained, or from the roots of the flower, which is boiled in water for about 20 minutes and then strained. Especially with viscous sputum, the cowslip tea is said to have a positive effect, although the tea from the roots is considered to be significantly more effective than the infusion from the flowers. However, many people find the taste unpleasant and therefore prefer tea made from cowslip flowers.
A well-known medicinal plant, which is also used as a tea against cough, is the thyme. This has an antispasmodic and expectorant effect. This is a good remedy especially for cough attacks. For the preparation, one or two teaspoons of thyme herb are used, poured with a quarter liter of boiling water and passed through a sieve after about ten minutes.
Especially with dry cough, the plantain is also known as a remedy for nature. A teaspoon of the plantain herb is brewed with about 250 milliliters of boiling water and strained after about eight to ten minutes.
All in all, a variety of medicinal plants can be used to prepare a tea that also works as a home remedy for cough. Which mixtures should preferably be used here depends on the individual symptoms and the stage of the disease. The general rule here is that dry cough is more likely to be used to relieve the cough or to relieve the cough reflex, while the secretion should be liquefied if there is more secretion.
Full baths with additives
Full baths with essential oils as an additive have a soothing effect on the urge to cough, can loosen mucus and help to relax the bronchi, but also the whole body. Only those who like to take a bath should bathe. In addition, such a health bath should never take place without supervision, particularly in the case of health-impaired patients. If the patient has a fever or the circulation is weakened, bathing should be avoided.
A thyme bath relaxes the bronchial muscles and loosens the mucus. A spruce needle bath strengthens the respiratory system and the eucalyptus bath has a beneficial effect on breathing. The bath additives are commercially available as ready-made oil bath mixtures.
Inhale with salt
Inhaling is good for the bronchi. In the case of an acute cough, inhalation can be carried out at least twice a day. Inhaling with table salt is a simple but extremely effective method. Salt moistens the mucous membranes and releases stuck secretions. Good sea salt or Himalayan salt is used for inhalation. Put ten grams of salt and one liter of boiling water in a saucepan. As soon as the mixture is no longer too hot, those affected bend over the pot and cover a towel over their heads and vessels so that the heat is retained for a long time. The nose is inhaled and exhaled through the mouth. Inhaling is only suitable for adults and older children. Small children and infants should be kept away from the hot steam.
If no cough syrup helps, the homemade onion syrup is often the last resort. A small chopped onion is mixed with a little honey and placed in a glass. The whole thing must then stand and pull in the warm overnight. Then the onion juice is ready. Straining the resulting juice and taking a teaspoon of it several times a day promises to relieve the cough and make it easier to cough up.
Instead of the onion, a radish can also be made into juice. A black radish is hollowed out in the middle and filled with honey. This has to drag for a day. As with onion syrup, juice forms, from which several spoons are drunk throughout the day.
Cough at night
If the cough occurs frequently in the evening and at night, the following measures are quite helpful. First, the headboard of the bed should be raised a little, this can already greatly relieve the urge to cough. A warm thyme tea before sleeping, possibly sweetened with a little honey, also calms the mucous membranes. What helps is curd wrap, which can stay on the chest all night. Dry air in the apartment is also irritating to the mucous membranes, which is why a few damp cloths should be hung in the bedroom, for example.
Old home remedy: milk with honey
Who doesn't know our grandmothers' old home remedy - hot milk with honey. Only something has to be considered for the application. Milk should only be drunk when the cough is still dry. Once mucus was formed, milk would only increase mucus production, making the cough worse. In the evening before going to sleep, drinking a hot milk with a little honey helps to sleep peacefully and not to be awakened by an annoying dry cough.
Stone medicine for cough
For those who believe in stone healing, the red coral is the treatment of choice for coughs. Worn on a leather or silk ribbon around the neck and in such a way that the stone has contact with the chest, it is said to have relaxing and loosening healing powers. In addition, the chalcedony promises to remove hoarseness and also to relieve dry cough.
Herbal medicine for cough
Herbal medicine knows numerous proven effective agents for the treatment of cough. Here, too, a general distinction must be made between the herbal preparations for relieving cough and the means for liquefying the secretion. There are also herbal active ingredients that are said to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. For example, the oral intake of extracts from ivy leaves in bronchial diseases with strong cough and viscous mucus is said to have an extremely positive effect. The secretions in the lungs are liquefied, the cough is relieved and an antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal effect is achieved. It is not without reason that common ivy was chosen as a medicinal plant in 2009.
Thyme is also one of the particularly effective herbal remedies for cough. Extracts of the medicinal plant have an expectorant effect, make it easier to cough up secretions and have an antibacterial and antiviral effect. The essential oils in particular are attributed to extremely positive effects. Real thyme was already voted medicinal plant of the year in 2006.
Other medicinal plants whose extracts can be used against cough are, for example, cowslip, ribwort, liquorice roots, Icelandic moss, coltsfoot, common horehound, coneflower (Echinacea) or Kalmegh (Indian medicinal plant used in Ayurveda for cough). The repertoire of herbal medicine for the treatment of cough seems to be almost inexhaustible and in many cases the active ingredients are now part of modern medicines. As a herbal remedy for cough and bronchitis, Umckaloabo should be mentioned here, which is derived from the roots of a special African pelargonium genus and has meanwhile also experienced a real boom in distribution.
Other home remedies and tips
Drinking is very important for coughs. If you drink too little, the mucus will not come loose. Warm water or tea is best here. It should also be borne in mind that not all home remedies are suitable for children and infants. Be especially careful with honey. This should never be given to the little ones before the first year of life. In addition, not every essential oil is suitable for children and infants. This must be clarified beforehand.
Moist air relieves the urge to cough. Bowls of hot water, possibly enriched with a few drops of essential oils, increase the humidity in a beneficial way. Especially at night, the air in the bedroom shouldn't be too dry.
In the case of cough, brushing the soles of the feet with garlic helps. That may sound adventurous, but many naturopaths have already tried it successfully. The reflex zones for breathing are located on the soles of the feet directly under the toes, in an area of approximately four centimeters across the entire width of the foot. This zone is rubbed in with a clove of garlic, socks on and off to bed. The whole thing does not smell pleasant, but it can be extremely helpful.
Coughed up phlegm
If patients first decide to use home remedies for the cough and refrain from visiting a doctor, they should definitely keep an eye on the consistency of the coughed up mucus (medical: sputum). This provides information on the cause of the complaints and whether a doctor's visit is urgently needed. The sputum also gives the doctor important clues for making a diagnosis. If the sputum is yellow-green, it could be a purulent infectious disease caused by bacteria. If the mucus is rather white, there is usually an infection by viruses. If the expectoration is white / foamy when coughing, this is a possible indication of a congestion of the lungs or an edema. If the color is gray, there is a bacterial infection in the healing state, which usually indicates pneumonia. If the sputum is brownish, in many cases this is due to old blood.
If the cough persists for a long time and is very pronounced, the bronchial mucosa can be damaged. In such cases it sometimes happens that coughed up secretions also contain blood threads. A medical examination is required in all of the above-mentioned cases, it is best to spit the coughed up mucus directly into the toilet and do not swallow it.
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Strengthen the immune system against cough
If you often suffer from cough or cold, you can certainly strengthen your own immune system against it. Eat foods that contain vitamin C, especially in the cold season. These include citrus fruits, but also peppers, spinach and cabbage contain a lot of the important vitamin. Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to boost the immune system. So eat more sea fish or take fish oil as a dietary supplement. Last but not least, magnesium is an important nutrient for strengthening the immune system. Bananas and nuts are perfect suppliers of this trace element. (sb, sw, fp, dp)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
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- Ute Baumgärtner, Brigitte Merk, Annegret Sonn: Wraps and pads (nursing practice), Thieme, 2014
- Ursula Uhlemayr, Dietmar Wolz: "Wraps and pads: advice, selection and application", Deutscher Apotheker Verlag, 2015
- Pia Dahlem, Gabi Freiburg: The Great Book of Tea, Moewig, 2000
- Katharina Zeh: Handbook of Essential Oils: 70 portraits of the most common fragrance oils for medicine cabinet and wellness applications, Joy-Verlag; Edition: 2 (August 3, 2005)