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Treating coughs with herbs


Coughing is a common symptom of upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. There are many types of coughs including coughs due to colds, chronic coughs, dry coughs, cigarette coughs, productive coughs, nervous coughs, hacking coughs, and whooping coughs.

Many herbs are well known for their ability to soothe a cough. Herbal cough syrups, lozenges, and teas have been used throughout history and many exisitng recipes are tried and true. Horehound, slippery elm, mullein, wild cherry bark, lemon, and honey are the most common ingredients in cough remedies although other herbs are just as useful.

Marshmallow is a proven demulcent and expectorant. Take an infusion, tincture, or syrup made from the flowers or leaves. Combine with a phlegm reducing herb like white horehound for an effective herbal medicine.

Hyssop is useful in the treatment of coughs associated with bronchitis and is best combined with mullein, plantain, or white horehound. Sage, ginger, cloves, peppermint, and rose hips are also recommended additions.

Anise is an excellent expectorant that relaxes hard spasms. Anise is good for any dry, irritating cough and can be combined with thyme or hyssop. Use three times a day as tincture or in massage.

Wild cherry bark is a powerful cough suppressant and is used for dry, nervous coughs or coughing associated with a sore throat. Combine in syrup form with licorice, garlic, onion, and slippery elm.

A cough with a fever is best treated with yarrow and angelica. Mullein is good for congestion. Elderflowers and berries are often used for coughs due to sinus infection.

A hacking smoker's cough can be temporarily relieved with a mix of two tablespoons honey, two tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of water. Take a teaspoon of mixture as needed.

Dry hard coughs benefit from inhaling steam infused with cypress, hyssop, eucalyptus, or chamomile essential oil. Mix essential oils or herbs in a bowl, pour on hot water, lean over bowl, and make a tent with a towel.

Coughs may also be treated with massage. Blend any good carrier oil with sandalwood, eucalyptus, frankincense, and myrrh essential oils and gently rub into chest and back.

Sometimes a gargle or throat spray can help. Echinacea, yellowroot, or any of the herbs listed above can be made into tea, cooled, and used as a gargle or spray. Mix in a few drops of tea tree essential oil for added strength.

Chronic coughing and congestion can often be relieved with a change of diet. Milk and dairy products should be avoided due to their mucous forming properties. Patients should drink lots of fruit juice, eat sprouts on a daily basis, and add green peppers, broccoli, and cherries to the diet. Supplements such as royal jelly, ginseng, propolis, Vitamin C, and zinc may also help.

In cases of infection avoid commercial cough syrups and over the counter medications. They suppress a cough which can drive infection deeper into the lung tissues.

*Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedies.

Janice Boling
322 EV Farm Drive
Blairsville, Georgia 30512


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