A Spoonful of Honey
Studies, such as one conducted at Penn State College of Medicine, have found that honey can work more efficiently to calm a cough than over-the-counter drugs. It is a rich demulcent, with a high viscosity and stickiness that does an incredible job of coating and soothing those irritated mucous membranes. Thanks to an enzyme added by bees when they harvest honey, it also has antibacterial properties as well, which may help shorten how long you have the cough if it is due to bacterial illness.
Note: This is an excellent alternative remedy for both kids and adults, but should never be given to children under the age of 2 years due to the risk of botulism.
You will need…
-1 tablespoon of organic, raw, honey
Licorice Root Tea
Licorice root is both an expectorant and demulcent, simultaneously soothing your airways while loosening and thinning mucous, easing congestion. It can also ease any inflammation that may be irritating your throat. Its main constituent, glycyrrhizin, is responsible for most of its effects. 30-50 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), it inhibits an enzyme 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (how would like you to write that on a name tag?) This enzyme regulates access of glucocorticoid (a steroid hormone) to steroid receptors, ultimately slowing the conversion of cortisol to cortisone. This increases the effect of cortisol and reducing inflammation. If you are on steroids, or have any problems with your kidneys, it is best to steer clear of licorice root.
You will need…
-2 tablespoons of dried licorice root
-8 ounces of fresh water
Gargle Salt Water
Also a popular remedy for sore throats, salt water can ease the discomfort caused by a cough the same way it helps a sore throat-through osmosis. When the concentration of salt is higher outside of the cells in your mucous membranes, water flows out of the cells to balance everything out. When water leaves the cells, swelling goes down, and discomfort is decreased. If you have a cough that happens to come along with inflamed tissue, this is a good route to take. It can also help dislodge any phlegm that’s hanging out and allow you to expel it easily.
Steam, Steam, Steam!
I can’t say how underrated steam is when it comes to anything dealing with a cough, cold, or congestion. Not only does the steam quite literally loosen mucous and phlegm, almost immediately, but you can add numerous essential oils that will impart wonderful healing benefits. These benefits (anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory etc.) do become airborne, so you inhale them while you breathe in the steam. For this particular blend I’ve included both tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil, which can help soothe and open your airways as well as help fight off bacteria or a virus.