Between winter’s cool, dry air, and peak sick season, it’s no wonder that more than a third of us are battling a stubborn cough right now. For a quick rescue, try these simple swaps and learn how to soothe a cough naturally!
Dry cough? Trade cough suppressants for this tea.
Marshmallow root is packed with throat-coating mucilage that calms a dry cough almost instantly when sipped in a warm cup of tea. Indeed, 90 percent of folks in a Swiss study rated marshmallow root as good or very good at relieving their persistent dry cough — and without drugs’ side effects like drowsiness and restlessness.
Tip: Sweeten your tea with one teaspoon of honey. Research in the journal Canadian Family Physician finds that it calms nerves that trigger coughing even better than the most popular dry-cough suppressant.
Chesty cough? Trade OTC tablets for a mini tent.
Instead of trekking to the drugstore for pricey expectorant or chest-congestion tablets, try this: Add three drops of eucalyptus oil and 1 tablespoon of sea salt to a bowl filled with steaming water. Then lean about 12 inches over the bowl with a towel tented over your head as you breathe slowly and deeply for 10 minutes. German investigators found this reduces a chesty “wet” cough by more than 62 percent.
The reason? Salty steam opens lungs and nasal passageways so they can more easily loosen and expel mucus. And compounds in eucalyptus (called monoterpenes) help block viruses, the top cause of productive coughs, from breeding.
Tickly cough? Trade cough drops for a truffle.
A “tickly” cough is likely caused by postnasal drip, when mucus runs down the back of the throat. Instead of using cough drops, let a chocolate truffle melt in your mouth. British research suggests chocolate relieves persistent coughs better than codeine, a doctors’ go-to for tickly coughs. Cocoa’s theobromine blocks nerves responsible for the cough reflex for four hours.
Still wondering how to sooth a cough that’s persistent? Check out these tips for calming a cough while you sleep and relieving other cold symptoms.
And remember: These tricks may work for mild symptoms, but it’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor. A doctor will likely call you in for an office visit and give you a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.