There’s almost nothing worse than having a nagging cough, no matter if it’s dry, wet, or whooping. Whatever the type may be, all coughs are terrible in my book, especially when coughing at night or not being able to breathe properly.
So, if you’re suffering from hacking hysteria and want to know how to get rid of a cough fast, then you’re in luck because today we’re going over 12 of my best home remedies for cough and how to use them!
12 Home Remedies for Cough That Actually Work
Believe it or not, coughing is actually good for us as it’s our body’s way of keeping the lungs clean and free of irritants, allergens, and mucus. While that may be fine and dandy most of the time, sometimes you just can’t take it anymore and will do just about anything to get rid of it – even knock back some whiskey!
Today, we’ll go over some of my favorite natural remedies for cough that are quick and easy to throw together so that you can get relief fast. And the best part? These remedies actually work, so don’t worry about trying to find the best ones, they’re all right here.
Types of Cough
In order to use these remedies most effectively, you will, of course, need to know what type of cough you have. Doing this is quite easy!
Home Remedies for Cough – Dry Cough
This type of cough is super irritating to deal with because there is an incessant tickle in the throat that causes you to cough constantly. Sometimes the force of dry coughing makes you gag and it is almost always worse at night.
A dry cough is typically caused by an infection in the upper respiratory system as a result of the common cold. Post nasal drip can exacerbate symptoms and a “chesty cough” or “mucus cough” may follow as the cold progresses.
Dry cough is accompanied by symptoms of:
Nagging tickle in the throat
No mucus or phlegm
The chest feels clear with no or little wheezing or congestion
The cough sounds dry and can feel painful
Cough is worse at night or when laying down
Muscles of the chest and back may feel sore from the force of constant coughing (a good massage can help loosen up mucles and restore comfort)
How to Stop a Dry Cough
First and foremost is hydration!
Keeping the soft tissues of your throat well hydrated will help with some of the irritation and tickling sensations you experience with a dry cough. Drink plenty of water, herbal tea, or consume brothy meals to keep yourself hydrated.
2. Demulcent Herbs
Taking demulcents (herbs that promote moisture in soft tissues) is key to soothing incessant coughing.
3. Anti-Spasmodic Herbs
Anti-spasmodics are natural cough supressants, so they’re key to getting a comfortable night’s rest if you have a tickly dry cough when lying down.
I highly recommend reading my post on how to stop a dry cough for more in-depth information!
Home Remedies for Cough – Wet Cough
I like to refer to this unpleasant type of cough as “the lung grunge” because wet coughs are gross and mucusy.
Most people, when faced with a wet cough, will immediately reach for an OTC cough suppressant.
That is the last thing you should do for this type of cough! Not only will you be keeping all that germ-filled mucus in your lungs, you’ll also be well on your way to potentially developing a much worse infection as a result. Using cough suppressants is what can give you pneumonia. So, don’t do it!
Symptoms of wet cough include:
A heavy, boggy feeling in the lungs
Copious amounts of phlegm and mucus
Mucus that is clear, white, green, or brown
Wheezing or difficulty breathing
Worse in the morning
How to Stop a Wet Cough
The best way to get rid of this type of cough is to keep expectorating and keeping the lungs as clear as possible. This may go against everything you know about treating coughs like bronchitis or croup but believe me, you don’t want to keep infected mucus in the lungs any longer than the few hours while you’re asleep.
Once again, it’s important to keep up your hydration levels no matter what type of cough you have, including a wet one.
Drinking enough water, herbal teas, or drinking broth will ensure that expectoration is as easy as possible. Without enough hydration, you will quickly find that your coughs are less productive and that the mucus may be thicker. I know it sounds gross, but this is why you need to stay hydrated!
2. Expectorant Herbs
Taking herbs that will encourage the lungs to release mucus is going to be the fastest way to get rid of a chesty cough.
I recommend making a strong ginger tea and drinking it throughout the day while taking the other herbs as tinctures in a little bit of water for best results. Bee balm is a tasty tea as well if you can find it!
Eating spicy foods is another great way to help expectorate stubborn mucus, so be sure you add some cayenne to your food as is comfortable.
Be sure to check out my post on herbal remedies for wet cough to get more indepth information and recipes.
A Few More Simple Home Remedies for Cough
Aside from my tried and true natural remedies for cough above, there are of course a few other things you can incorporate to relieve symptoms and get well faster.
Fresh Lemon Juice
Lemons are naturally expectorant, so these bright little beauties are perfect for when you need an extra boost that helps you expectorate phlegm and mucus.
They’re also high in Vitamin C which is exactly what you need when dealing with a cold or flu!
I like to steep a few fresh slices of lemon in boiling water (covered) and drink it as a tea. Add some raw honey to make it extra soothing.
Elderberry syrup is an excellent herbal remedy for fighting cold and flu and while it isn’t directly linked to getting rid of a cough, it will boost and strengthen your immune system so that your body can get rid of illness faster.
Plus, it’s full of Vitamin C and even children can take it!
These are a given no matter what type of cough you have and come in a variety of flavors and formulations.
I like to look at what herbs are included in the formula so that I know if they’re best for dry or wet coughs.
Here are a few of my favorites for each:
Dry Cough Lozenges
Wet Cough Lozenges
Herbal Cough Syrup
The difference between herbal cough syrups and the OTC variety is that the herbal versions will actually treat the root cause of your cough instead of trying to dangerously suppress symptoms.
You can take the herbal syrup and get not only an immune boost, but also get relief from incessant coughing and stubborn mucus.
I particularly like the herbal cough syrups by Gaia since the formulation has both soothing and expectorant herbs. This is the one I use.
Whiskey (or other booze)
There’s a reason whiskey is known to help with coughs, especially the dry variety – it works!
I’m not sure if it’s because of the warm slightly burning sensation you get from sipping on whiskey that does the trick, but I can tell you that it really soothes even the worst hacking coughs.
Maybe this is why most cough syrups you can buy have a hefty dose of alcohol in them? Something to ponder for sure!
You can even add a splash of whiskey to your tea!
Of course we can’t leave out the essential oils! These potent powerhouses are great to use for treating coughs naturally.
For wet coughs, you want to use essential oils that are high in keytones like camphor and thujone and those high in cineol are amazing for breaking up congestion and mucus.
These essential oils include:
For dry coughs, you would want to use essential oils with anti-spasmodic qualities.
Some great antispasmodic essential oils include:
To use these essential oils, you can either add a couple drops of each to a personal nasal inhaler, a diffuser, or add 1 drop of each to 1/2oz of carrier oil and use it as a massage oil for the chest and back.
What have been your best home remedies for cough? Please share them in the comments below!
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