An intense cold—when you can feel the mucus stuck in your throat, have difficulty breathing, and lost the ability to verbally articulate any thoughts because you're coughing every other word—is pure hell. During cold and flu season, the chances of getting sick are unfortunately pretty high. You can always go the conventional route and stock up on cough drops and cough syrup for a quick fix, or you can go the more natural route and try some remedies that you can find in your pantry.
Natural cough remedies lack many of the negative side effects experienced with pharmaceutical cough suppressants. Many of the pharmaceutical options leave one feeling drowsy with a dry mouth and have a rebound effect where the symptoms worsen once the drug wears off.
Natural cough and cold remedies are typically herbal formulas or vitamin formulas that have antiviral actions, immune-strengthening actions, and lung tissue support. They are not only are designed to kill infections, but they build the immune and heal the terrain. Conventional medicine is usually reducing fevers and cough suppressants or decongestants. They are treating the symptoms and not getting to the root cause.
Do they work just as well as conventional options? The most common misconception about natural cough remedies is that they don't work. However, most often, people are not taking the remedy often enough or not using a quality supplement/herb. The potency and dosage of a remedy can greatly affect its efficacy.
If the fever is low and the cough is white phlegm, then it is most likely a virus and the natural remedies work very well. If the fever is high and the cough is yellow or green phlegm, then it is most likely bacteria and may need an MD to prescribe an antibiotic. As always, check with a doctor for any severe colds before solely depending on these natural remedies for treatment, but if you're looking to stay away from the medicines you find at your local drugstore here some great alternative options.
Scroll down to see natural cough remedies that can get you back on your feet in no time:
Try Some Essential Oils
Essential oils are a complex field to navigate, but scientific studies have found that they can help alleviate all manner of symptoms, from those that come with anxiety to the common cold. Of course, a few drops tend to go a long way—so be sure to read your labels.
Take N-Acetyl Cysteine
For a cough with thick phlegm, try N-Acetyl Cysteine. This is an amino acid that is found easily over the counter in any local pharmacy or even grocery store. NAC is a powerful antioxidant that increases your body's natural production of glutathione (a strong antioxidant). However, use it for coughs because it greatly thins out the mucus by breaking up the bonds of thick phlegm. Once the mucus is thinner, it is runnier and will be easier to clear out of your lungs. It's important to drink a ton of water when you have phlegm because this helps thin out the mucus as well.
Steam Inhalation Can Work Wonders
Saunas have been used for centuries, by cultures around the world who extoll the virtues of heat. And there's a reason for that. Steam inhalation for deep coughs works wonders on opening your airways.
Try adding two or three drops of high-quality essential oil—lavender, eucalyptus, or thyme are all great—to a bowl of gently boiled water. Lean your head over the bowl and cover with a towel to create a mini steam bath. The steam is comforting and soothing, though at first, you may cough a bit as your lungs get used to the moist, heated air. Essential oils can have soothing anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects. They can also help to open up the airways.
Take the Right Supplements
There are a number of herbs and supplements that can help defend the body against a cold. Echinacea root and alkylamides are great immune system defenders by helping to support a quick immune response. Elderberry, ginger, and Andrographis also help to support the immune system. This combination of herbs soothes the lung and respiratory tracts by building the mucous membranes, soothing the lungs, and dissolving the phlegm in the lungs that causes coughs.
Don't Be Afraid of Garlic
Garlic is a go-to component for a good cough protocol. (And yes, we know it's stinky.) But that's because the main route of excretion of garlic's volatile oils is through the lungs. In other words: the stench means it's working.
Eating raw garlic can act as an antimicrobial boost to fight off any bacteria that may grow in the lungs while you're sick. The key here is to chop the garlic and let it sit for a few minutes because this actually activates the medicinal constituents. It's not for the faint of heart, but it does provide nutrients the immune system needs from that raw garlic punch.
Eat a Tablespoon of Manuka Honey a Day
Manuka Honey has studies that revealed the effectiveness against colds, sore throats, and treating antibiotic-immune virus’. The antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of manuka honey can boost and protect your immune system while also starving off any germs or bacteria laying in weight inside your body. A tablespoon a day has wonderful benefits for staying healthy and fighting illness. We know all about the inside and out benefits of using manuka honey every day and you should definitely look into it!
Thyme is widely known to have volatile oils that are antimicrobial but also help thin out mucus. It has long been known to treat upper respiratory infections, cough, etc. Of course, munching on raw thyme probably doesn't interest you. Instead, we recommend turning the leafy herb into a tea. The best way is to add a tea/decoction of fresh thyme to some fresh lemon juice and honey.
Don't Forget About Ol' Reliable Cough Syrup
Cough syrups work by loosening secretions and reducing the cough reflex—so even if they don't necessarily cut a cough short, they can lessen the symptoms so you can function throughout the day.
We hope during this heavy time of illness and prevention from the coronavirus that you stay safe and keep your immune system up with all the natural options available to you!