Tips for treating coughs with medicinal herbs, essential oils, and home remedies

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 existing herbal recipes are tried and true. Horehound, slippery elm, mullein, wild cherry bark, lemon juice, and honey are the most common ingredients in cough remedies although other herbs are also useful.

Lemon and honey are time honored home remedies for coughs.
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Lemon and honey can help treat coughs and set the lungs on a path to recovery.


Hyssop can help heal bronchitis inflammation and stop painful coughing.

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 for added strength. Try different combinations depending on what is available and what works best for you.

Coughing is the body's way of clearing the lungs.

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. Coughing is usually the body's way to get rid of phlegm. When coughing becomes so severe that breathing becomes difficult, seek emergency help.

Marshmallow is a good herbal remedy for treating coughs.

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.

Anise is an excellent expectorant.

Anise is an excellent expectorant that brings up mucus and relaxes hard spasms. Anise is good for any dry, irritating cough and can be combined with thyme or hyssop for extra strength. Make tea from the herb or take in tincture form three or four times a day. You can also buy anise essential oil and use it in chest rubs. Do not use essential oil without diluting first with a good carrier oil.

Wild cherry bark suppresses a cough.

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. Wild cherry bark brings relief so that the patient can get a good night's sleep.

Other herbs for treating coughs

A cough with a fever is best treated with yarrow and angelica. Mullein is good for congestion and to protect the lungs from lasting damage. Elder flowers and berries are often used for coughs due to sinus infection.

Smoker's cough remedy

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.

Using essential oils in a steam bath or steam tent

Dry hard coughs benefit from inhaling steam infused with cypress, hyssop, eucalyptus essential oil , or chamomile essential oil. Mix essential oils or the fresh herbs in a bowl, pour on hot water, lean over bowl, and make a tent with a towel. You can also use a few drops of essential oil in a hot bath.

Coughs may be treated with massage.

Blend any good carrier oil live olive oil with sandalwood essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil, frankincense essential oil , and myrrh essential oil. Gently rub on chest and back to bring relief from coughing spasms and pain.

Use homemade gargles and sprays to treat cough.

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 cough? Avoid dairy foods!

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.

Do not suppress cough when infection is in the lungs.

In cases of lung infection where yellow or green phlegm is being coughed up, avoid commercial cough-suppressants. They can drive infection deeper into the lung tissues. Coughing is a way for the lungs to clear bacteria and foreign matter from the body. Coughs should not be suppressed in most cases. The only time to use cough suppressants is when the patient really needs to get some rest or there is dry, hacking cough causing throat irritation.

Learn more about treating bronchitis with medicinal herbs.

* If blood is present when coughing, seek emergency help. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedies.

Payne Mountain Farms

Buy yellowroot and other wild-harvested herbs at Payne Mountain Farms.

Herb Articles by Janice Boling

"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... , herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer

"Ointment and Perfume Rejoice the Heart." Proverbs 27:9

Every Green Herb is a place to learn about medicinal herbs and essential oils. Visit my online store to buy wild harvested yellowroot, mullein, bee balm, and other herbal products at Payne Mountain Farms.

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