When you have a chest infection and are coughing up a storm, the first thing you probably do is reach for the cough medicine. But hold on- it might actually do more harm than help. Have you ever tried the age-old homemade cough remedies? The ones that our grandparents trusted and shoved down our parents’ throats?
How to stop coughing attacks?
In kids, we can stop coughing attacks (caused due to dry or wet cough) by:
1. Drinking plenty of water
2. Sipping hot water with honey
3. Taking over-the-counter (OTC) cough syrup (please consult your pediatrician before going for OTC cough medicines)
4. Giving a steamy shower to your child and not immediately exposing him/her to a cool temperature. The body’s thermostat takes time to adjust.
5. Using a humidifier in the home
Cough medicines are made of chemicals that have different uses. Some are used to block the cough reflex. Others loosen and thin or decrease the amount of mucus in your lungs. In any case, even pediatricians do not advise cough syrup for children less than three years of age.
So before you reach for an over-the-counter cough suppressant, try one of these natural homemade cough remedies for a home cure. The best bit, these remedies are effective for kids as well as adults.
Most effective homemade cough remedies for kids and adults:
1. Thyme – Alternative cough medicine in Ayurveda from centuries
Thyme is an officially approved German cough treatment—and a remedy for upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, and whooping cough. The tiny leaves of thyme are packed with cough-suppressant compounds. Thyme flavonoids relax tracheal and ileal muscles, which are involved in coughing, and also reduce inflammation and headaches. For a homemade tea, mix 2 teaspoons of crushed leaves in 1 cup boiling water, cover, then steep for 10 minutes and strain. Sip this warm.
2. Flax, honey, and lemon cough syrup – Alternative cough medicine in Ayurveda from centuries
Boiling flaxseeds in water give you a thick, gooey gel that eases throat and bronchial tract discomfort. According to Ayurveda, flaxseeds are considered a superfood, the best natural alternative to support the immune system. Honey and lemon act as mild antibiotics and make this syrup super-soothing. For this at-home remedy, boil 2 to 3 tablespoons of flaxseeds in 1 cup of water until the water becomes thick. Strain, then add 3 tablespoons each of honey and lemon juice. Take 1 tablespoon as needed for cough treatment. Because this is thicker than regular cough syrups, it is more like a balm that coats the throat. Best to have it in the night for fast relief. Also, avoid eating or drinking anything for at least 20 minutes after having this ‘balm’.
3. Homemade cough syrup – One of the most effective homemade cough remedies
To make a homemade cough syrup with honey and cinnamon, pour about ½ cup of honey into a small container and mix in about ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon. Both cinnamon and honey are anti-bacterial and anti-viral, and the honey coats and soothes the throat. You can refrigerate this, but do take care to give it a good stir in case the cinnamon settles at the bottom. Also, let it come to room temperature before having this. A tablespoon of this syrup can also be mixed with 30 ml of warm water to be sipped like tea.
4. Golden milk
Grandmothers advised well old ‘haldi-doodh‘ for everything, including coughs. To make soothing milk for coughs, boil a cup of milk with two tablespoons of homemade white butter (especially if you have a dry cough) with a teaspoon of organic turmeric powder or an inch-long piece of fresh turmeric root, two cloves of cardamom, 4 pieces of black pepper and two pinches of cinnamon powder. You may mix 1/2 a teaspoon of palm sugar or jaggery to sweeten this before having it as hot as you can. This will work better for a dry, unproductive cough (not much mucus.) because it will coat and relax the throat.
5. Fenugreek and lemon syrup
Soak a teaspoon of fenugreek leaves and one spoon of thyme leaves in one and a half cups of water. Add half a lemon and leave it for half an hour. Strain the liquid and simmer the resultant liquid until it reduces to one cup. Add two tablespoons of honey to the concoction. Cool it down and store in a jar, in a cool, dry place. You can also refrigerate it to use it for a month or so. Give your child one teaspoon of this syrup at room temperature for a cough, especially when accompanied by mucous. This can also be a preventive formula to keep infections at bay in the rainy season.
6. Anise cough syrup – Effective alternative cough medicine in Ayurveda from centuries
Boil two florets of star anise (chakraphool) and a teaspoon of aniseeds (saunf) in two cups of water. Let it steep for half an hour. Strain the liquid and simmer it for 15 minutes or until it reduces to one cup. Add a cup of honey and let it cool. Store it in a glass jar and refrigerate it (for up to a fortnight). Half a teaspoon of this mix can help ease a cough in children and adults.
7. Ajwain and tulsi decoction
Carom seeds (ajwain or caraway or bishop’s seeds) are popularly used in India to fight indigestion and cold and cough. The seeds have anti-microbial properties that can help in relieving congestion. Boil one teaspoon of carom seeds, eight to ten holy basil (tulsi) leaves, half a teaspoon dry ginger (saunth) powder, one clove, a pinch of ground pepper powder, half teaspoon of turmeric powder, and one-third cup jaggery in half a cup of water. Boil for ten minutes and strain the liquid. Give a teaspoon of it to your child every hour to provide relief from a cough.
8. Licorice tea
A perennial herb that is found in various parts of Asia and Europe, mulethi has been used for centuries, especially in Ayurveda. Licorice or mulethi is known for its properties to ease a sore throat and cough. Add half a teaspoon of licorice root to a cup of boiling water and leave it for ten minutes. Strain the liquid and drink warm.
9. Black pepper tea for a cough with phlegm
This home remedy is rooted in very different traditions: New England folk medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and Ayurveda. The rationale behind it is that black pepper stimulates circulation and mucus flow; honey is a natural cough suppressant and mild antibiotic. To make the tea, place 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of honey in a cup. Fill with boiling water and let steep, covered, for 15 minutes. Strain and sip as needed. This remedy works best on coughs that produce mucus and isn’t suitable for dry coughs.
10. Ayurvedic cough syrup that also battles allergies
This was something my grandmother used to make for us children as soon as the first rains of the monsoon arrived. Add ¾ cup raw organic honey, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil and the juice of three lemons in a steel utensil over medium heat until steaming. Remove from the heat & let it cool. Place it into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store it in the fridge for three months. Warm and stir before having a teaspoon for children and a tablespoon for adults as soon as you feel a cold coming on. This concoction is also amazing for dust allergies or seasonal flu and infections.
by Aarti Kapur Singh