5 Home Remedies for Cough Backed by Scientific Research

Coughing is one of the top medical complaints causing over 30 million clinical visits each year with around 40% resulting in a pulmonologist referral [R].

Coughing is your respiratory system’s way of expelling harmful pathogens and irritants from your lungs. It is a natural bodily reaction that keeps your lungs healthy. However, it can also be painful and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, most over-the-counter cough medications don’t really treat the underlying cause of a cough. Sometimes, they don’t even completely alleviate cough. This is why natural home remedies are being considered by many when it comes to cough relief [R] [R].

1. Eucalyptus Oil and Peppermint Oil

The cineole in eucalyptus oil has antiseptic and expectorant properties that help loosen mucus for easier expulsion. Eucalyptus oil can also help relieve excessive coughing since it dilates the blood vessels and allows oxygen to enter your lungs, alleviating chest tightness and shortness of breath [R].

If you have a diffuser or humidifier at home, you can use 4 to 5 drops of eucalyptus oil for symptomatic relief of cough. Otherwise, you can simply rub 2 drops on your chest and the back of your neck. Eucalyptus oil, along with peppermint oil, makes for a great homemade vapor rub to alleviate cough.

On the other hand, peppermint oil can help unclog stuffy nose brought by cough or colds due to its cooling properties. It can also help relieve sore throat, a common symptom of dry cough. You can drip 5 drops of peppermint oil in a diffuser or humidifier, or simply apply 2 to 3 drops on your chest, temples, and the back of your neck [R].

Peppermint can be applied directly on your skin or combined with a carrier oil for greater skin coverage.

2. Serrapeptase

Serrapeptase or serratiopeptidase is a proteolytic enzyme used in proteolysis, which is the breakdown of proteins into smaller chains of amino acids. Additionally, it is used to alleviate pain and inflammation [R].

One study done with 29 patients having breathing difficulty due to obstructed airways showed that serrapeptase reduced mucus clearance. This treatment also decreased the frequency of cough, and the amount of phlegm and mucus in the airways [R].

Additionally, a study done with 193 patients with ENT conditions showed that serrapeptase helped reduce nasal secretions and obstructions, and relieved difficulty swallowing [R].

Serrapeptase should be administered to a patient either before meals or 2 hours after meals. The recommended dose is 15 to 30 mg per day, and the patient should refrain from eating for 30 minutes after taking a dose [R].

Taking serrapeptase with certain synthetic drugs (clopidogrel, aspirin, and warfarin) and natural substances (fish oil, garlic, and turmeric) is ill-advised due to an increased risk of bruising and bleeding [R].

3. Honey

The antimicrobial effects of honey is a potential benefit in the treatment of cough and colds. Aside from being a rich source of antioxidants, honey also relieves irritation, decreases inflammation, and promotes cytokine release [R].

One double-blind, randomized clinical trial showed that honey displayed significant results in lowering the severity and frequency of cough in 300 children. As a result, the children and their parents were able to sleep better [R].

To use honey for cough, you can consume 1 to 2 tablespoons of manuka or raw honey until your symptoms are resolved. According to your preference, you can also mix chamomile tea or lemon with honey for a warm, soothing drink.

4. Theobromine

The FASEB Journal shows a study on their online edition that features theobromine as a more effective treatment than codeine for persistent cough. Currently, codeine is universally considered as the most effective cough treatment [R].

To add to that, a double-blind, randomized, clinical trial with 289 chronic cough patients showed a significant improvement in their symptoms after they received treatment with a theobromine-based compound [R].

Eating chocolate can be a great source of theobromine. A bar of 70% dark chocolate contains 810 mg of theobromine, while a bar of milk chocolate has about 65 mg. Additionally, a bar of unsweetened chocolate contains 375 mg of theobromine. Theobromine supplements in capsule form are also available with doses of 350 mg to 500 mg [R] [R] [R] [R].

5. Thyme

Normally a spice in the kitchen, thyme is also unexpectedly an expectorant that helps easily expel mucus and phlegm. It even contains flavonoids that help in the relaxation of the ileal and tracheal muscles, which are both responsible for coughing. It can also alleviate related symptoms like headaches and inflammation [R] [R].

In fact, thyme has been officially approved by the German Commission E as an effective treatment for cough, bronchitis, and other common respiratory infections [R] [R].

Drinking thyme as tea is the best way to take advantage of its healing benefits. Simply crush thyme leaves and mix 2 teaspoons in one cup of boiling water. After allowing it to steep for up to 10 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also add honey for a sweet taste and additional healing benefits.

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