Cough – Natural defense and a natural treatment


Cough-a natural defense a natural treatment

When we cough it serves a purpose. For the most part we have been programmed to fear the cough for the worse possibility , pneumonia, bronchitis,  asthma. But the vast majority of coughing is a result of a mild cold or allergies. Nowadays  doctors and patients just want something to quell the cough automatically when it starts regardless of the etiology. However, like most of the things we’ve been discussing the over reaction and quick treatment of coughing is much worse than the actual disease associated with the cough. When you reflexively treat to suppress the cough you are not letting the body do its job of protecting the lungs by bringing up phlegm and keeping the bronchioles open. Suppressing it can lead to the mucous dripping down to the lungs and settling where it shouldn’t including bacteria that we naturally carry in our upper respiratory system.  If you’re asthmatic not being allowed to cough in order to  keep your bronchioles open can lead to an asthma attack . So the misinformation of what we think we know about a symptom and the fear of unknown can lead to more problems than the natural course of the disease itself. ( not to mention the side effects of the medication ) Treat a cough only at the direction of your physician. Treating coughs with cough suppressants, mucus thinners, and expectorants are more often than not the cause of complications and delay the healing rather than a cure. It is common for a cough to seem worse at the very end of a cold or virus as the mucous and congestion starts to drain . Especially when you lay down at night and wake up after a night of mucous dripping down the back of your throat. Any cough should be observed closely and a cough accompanied by fever breathing distress, prolonged,  painful , or any additional symptoms always needs to be brought to the attention of  your physician. There are numerous over the counter products to help suppress the cough but we know they are only to help sleep not treat the condition and we do not recommend cough suppressants for children under 4. Everyone is now turning to natural organic homeopathic cough syrups, since they think this is less harmful and natural means safer. But once again like all the natural products they are not reviewed,licensed by the FDA, or researched. There is no substantive evidence that any of the natural , homeopathic, or naturopathic products have any benefit, and certainly there is always the  possibility of them causing harm.   If you or your child have a chronic condition such as asthma, bronchitis, allergies, or sinus infections then you should automatically notify your physician and not self medicate with cough syrup. For everybody else there are options that are both natural non harmful and beneficial for the typical non infectious cold cough, when used after consulting with your physician.

Natural physiological methods are the best in a alleviating symptoms and helping the body fight the underlying source of the cough. It is always better to enhance the body’s own defense mechanisms to help fight an infection than go against it. My motto is to help the body fight the source of infection in any way you can naturally and physiologically  but only treat the symptoms when necessary in order to help a patient be comfortable enough to sleep ( since we do need sound sleep to maximize our immune system and heal ourselves).

Cough – Home treatment

General congestion and cough advice

Steam, saline washes in the nose, eucalyptus oil in a humidifier or steam shower , eucalyptus oil on the pillow or clothes. Not directly on a child.

Lots of dark fruits and vegetables ( see my fighting cold section)

Superpowered chicken and non-chicken soup. With immune enhancing foods.

Move- don’t just lie there if you are able, mobilize the mucous, walk, expand your lungs and thin the mucous by exercise-approved by your doctor.

Good teas with anti-inflammatory properties to help fight the cold and drain your sinus.

Turmeric tea

Hibiscus tea with ginger

Green tea with honey and ginger

Peppermint tea

Natural ingredients which have been found to help a cough.

( If you buy a product you should look for these natural ingredients for effectiveness)

Honey- tablespoon, raw, organic ( not for any child under 1 year of age). Manuka works the best.

Teaspoon of GInger

Peppermint oil. Steam and breathe in the oil..

Apple cider vinegar mixed to make it tolerable has many vascular and health healing effects


Pineapple with its bromelian ingredient ( supplements not for children) helps mobilize immune system and mucous.


Natural home cough treatments ( may adjust some ingredients for children due to taste)


Homemade cough syrup

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 tablespoon ground ginger

I tablespoon honey ( raw , only children over a year)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons water


Thyme tea specifically for cough

2 teaspoons of crushed thyme leaves to one cup boiled water, steep for 10 minutes.

Add 2 teaspoons organic raw honey ( over one year of age )   

Lemon wedge.

1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger

[ All contents here are for informational purposes only and not intended as medical advice. For any symptoms including cough please contact your physician first ]
Warren Krantz MD, FAAP