A cough is a very important mechanism through which the body disposes off unwanted particles, pathogens and the like, by expelling air at high speeds away from the body, it can be expressed as the forceful expulsion of air and foreign materials through the mouth. Even if the sound itself has become associated with disease, coughing is a defense reaction of the body.

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To clear his or her throat and respiratory system of debris and unwanted particles, the average person will cough one or two times every hour of the day. If the substance that she or he is trying to expel form the body makes him or her hack uncomfortably, it is then that coughing becomes uncontrollable and distressing, such discomfort is caused when the body is trying to eject pathogens or some corroding environmental substances.

Essentially coughs can be divided into two types: the dry type of cough in which no sputum or liquid of any sort is evident, in the wet type of cough on the other hand, a lot of liquid or sputum is ejected and such coughs are typically very productive. The exudates include mostly mucus, this substance has within it all the germs and the pathogens that the body has expelled. The mucus therefore serves a very important and vital role during a cough.

Minute receptors in the passages of the throat, the lungs and the bronchi detect the intrusion of irritants or pathogens into the respiratory system, these areas respond to this invasion increasing the production of mucus, which is where such invasive particles will become entangled before they are expelled from the body.

The ultimate action of the cough only occurs after a lot of processes have been triggered by this stimulation of the nerve endings, soon the body is set on a sequence of events, that finally bring about the completion of the cycle and the resulting cough in the person. The cough thus can be said to be a reaction to some external or internal stimuli, it is brought about by a variety of factors and conditions in the body and in the environment.

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Wet coughs are typical of infection form many pathogens like the flu or the common cold causing bacteria or viruses, the body senses these infective particles and starts the massive production of mucus in response, the mucus is expelled carrying large amounts of the pathogens with it, during the cough reflex which is triggered by the body, such coughs are more evident at night when the sinuses are being drained.

Coughs of the dry and the wet variety are produced during the worst manifestations of respiratory disorders such as asthma, pulmonary conditions like bronchitis, due to the affect of pollutants and irritants from the environment, including chemicals, allergens, perfumes and cigarette smoke, and in allergenic reaction like hay fever. Gastric acids can rise up the esophagus to burn and irritate the lining of the throat, causing heartburn, this condition also leads to coughing as a way for the body to cope.

Many medications including those that are used in the treatment of a high blood pressure have coughing as a side effect. The presence of a tumor in the lungs, in the throat, or in the larynx can all lead to the presence of a persistent cough in the person, the accumulation of fluid in the lungs during congestive heart failure can also lead to persistent coughing in the patient.

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Supplements and herbs

Many forms of prescription medications available form conventional drugstores can be replaced in the treatment of mild forms of the cough by the use of natural cough remedies. The treatment and eradication of a cough has two aims and involves two independent but related processes. Because of the fact that many coughs are painful and often disturb sleep, the first aim of the medication given should be to eliminate or subjugate the cough reflex in the person.

Since coughs also involve the production of enormous amounts of mucus in the body and its ejection through the mouth, the medications must also be able to thin or reduce the mucus; this makes it easier to eject the mucus from the body and to eliminate the substances that it has trapped within it.

Dry coughs can be suppressed by drinking an herbal tea made from the herb known as the slippery elm; the herb will also help soothe the throat. For taste add some marshmallow to the herbal tea for effect. The reason for the addition of marshmallow is for the mucilage it releases into the herbal tea, this is a gel-like plant substance, which can help quiet down the cough receptors in the throat and the larynx by forming a coating over them.

Other herbs also contain mucilage in good amount sand one of these is the flower of the mullein, which can be used as a substitute for the marshmallow. The bronchial spasms can be relaxed and the phlegm can be slowly induced to come out through the addition of expectorants to the herbal tea, this function is achieved in the herbal tea through the addition of licorice, which is a very powerful herbal expectorant. However its use in the tea must be carefully monitored as the use of licorice for more than three weeks at a stretch can elevate blood pressure extremely and cause all sorts of adverse effects in health.

Therefore other plants, which do not raise the blood pressure but have comparable properties to licorice such as the horehound, can be used in an herbal tea form. These herbs are available in the market in the form of tea bags, containing a combination of all the herbs in optimal amounts. The tea can be drunk thrice a day as a herbal treatment for cough, however some people prefer a tincture form of the herbs, which can also be made form the same tea bags by following the intrusions on the label, add a tincture of any of the herbs to a glass of water and drink thrice daily during the treatment period.

A few drops of the oils of the eucalyptus or the peppermint herbs can be added to steaming and boiling water, the steam produced can be inhaled slowly to help open clogged sinuses, and clear out the respiratory passages, this inhalation can also greatly minimize bronchial spasms and painful contractions that can result during the cough. Other remedies that suppress the cough reflex by causing you to swallow more saliva are the use of come types of hard candies and cough drops infused with the essential oils of eucalyptus or the peppermint, and containing the essences of the anise, or the fennel, these herbs increase the production of saliva in the person.


Commonly used essential oils for cough:


The homeopathic treatment of coughs is made easier when the coughing is divided into three symptomatic classes, such a differentiation of the symptoms aids in the treatment of each type of cough according to the symptom it produces in the patient, appropriate homeopathic remedies are thus available for each type of cough in turn.

An irritating and persistent tickling sensation is often evident in the types of tight, hacking and dry coughs are tight, and these can be said to be one symptomatic class of coughs. Mucus production may be much reduced in such coughs or the mucus may be adhering to the walls of the respiratory passages too thickly, thus the exuding of mucus is minimized and reduced in all cases.

The accumulated mucus in the bronchioles and the bronchus is an indicator of the loose or wet type of coughs that result in a person, in this type the mucus production is enormous and a lot of mucus or phlegm is produced every time the person coughs. The cough may elicit a loose rattling sound; this sound may be present even during the respiration of the individual.

The mucus may become tenaciously stuck and can become hard to expel out of the respiratory passageways, it is also very liquid and profuse in consistency. The types of mucus during viral infections is a commonly a clear appearing mucus, yellow and green foul smelling mucus is typical of the type produced during infection by bacteria.

Coughs that have prolonged periods of occurrence and violent spasm during the coughing period characterize the types of coughs known as spasmodic coughs. Long gasp for air with a suffocating gasping or whooping behavior is present and resembles those that are indicative of more serious disorders like asthma and whooping cough in a person. The homeopathic remedies provided in the section on croup can be used for the treatment of coughs affecting the larynx or voice box, with the production of a barking sound.

Both chronic and acute cases of cough can be treated using similar remedies and treatments, the strength and dosage of the medication can be varied according to the severity and the persistence of the cough, which simply means that in coughs that last longer and are more vigorous, stronger dosages may work better.

Dosage strengths can be varied from potencies ranging from 6, 12 to the 30th level dosage strength consumed every hour of every day, or in some cases a single dose one or two times a day will suffice. If the nature of the symptoms alter and change, the remedies used may need to be changed.


Aconite is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of patients suffering from dry painful coughs, which may elicit very hoarse or heavy sounds. These kinds of coughs tend to worsen in their effects during the nighttime; breathlessness is typically seen in the affected person for short periods of time, especially during moments when the cough is exceptionally violent in its expression.

The symptoms of croup can also be treated using this homeopathic remedy. In all cases the appearance of one or more of these manifestations requires the immediate use of Aconite as a homeopathic remedy in the afflicted individual.


Bryonia is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of patients suffering from very painful, harsh and dry coughs. The pain is extensive, and the person often holds the area of the chest as tremendous pain results during the cough and the chest may be extremely painful. The conditions of the patient tends to improve when seated or if he or she drinks cold water regularly, the condition of the patient may worsen within warm rooms, signified by an increasing rate of the coughs.

Provided that the symptoms given above are present in the patient, even a disorder such as bronchitis can be treated using Bryonia. The presence of one or all of the given symptoms requires the use of Bryonia as a homeopathic remedy in the treatment of cough in the affected person.


Drosera is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of patients suffering from a persistent and recurring barking cough that comes on quite strongly. The patient may choke so much, that retching may result in him or her, and breathlessness is a very common result of the coughs. The inner lining of the throat feel as if they were being tickled or brushed by a feather, this sensation persist as long as the symptoms of the cough is present in the person.

The patients often hold onto the sides of their abdomens as the coughing often has depth and great strength. The presence of one or any of these symptoms requires the use of Drosera as a homeopathic remedy in the patient.

Hepar sulph

Hepar sulph is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of individuals suffering from a cough, the types of coughing in these cases tends to be a harsh barking cough. An exposure to cold air or getting cold can often cause the coughs in the patients to worsen to a great degree. Coughing does not bring up a lot of mucus, and it is very difficult to cough out the enormous amount of mucus produced, there is a sensation of rattling in the chest and to the patient the chest may seem, filled with mucus, the mucus produced is thick and yellow, if the patient manages to expel some.

The patient shows psychological signs like a bad temper and may weaken greatly. If the use of Aconite and Spongia fail to treat croup, the third choice is the use of Hepar sulph. The presence of one or more of these symptoms and types of cough requires the use of Hepar sulph as a homeopathic remedy in the treatment of the cough.


Spongia is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of individuals suffering from a hollow, barking and painful cough that resembles the sawing of wood in sound. Suffocation is one of the sensations normally felt by patients and the region of the chest may feel extremely full or loaded with mucus. If the use of aconite has not succeeded in the treatment of croup in a person, the use of Spongia is recommended. The presence of one or any of these symptoms in a person requires the immediate use of Spongia as a homeopathic remedy in the treatment of cough.

Additional things you may do

Because of its effects on thinning the mucus in the body, drink a lot of liquids every day, these may be the form of teas, warm broth, a lot of water, or fruit and vegetable juices that are not chilled nor warmed. Humidify the air or moisten it in the room through the use of a good quality humidifier. Irritating and noxious fumes and smoke, including polluted air must be avoided at all cost and smoking is not recommended during the cough, and is not advised if you are a non-smoker.

Usual dosage

Licorice, one cup tea or 45 drops of licorice tincture three times daily. Steep one tsp dried licorice herb in hot water with marshmallow or slippery elm. Or add licorice tincture to herbal cough teas or to water.

Marshmallow, one cup up to 3 times daily, as a tea. Use two tsp of dried marshmallow herb per cup of hot water, it can be blended with slippery elm.

Slippery elm, one cup up to three times daily, as a tea. Use one tsp of dried slippery elm herb per cup of hot water.

Horehound, one cup up to three times daily, as a tea. Use one or two tsp dried horehound herb per cup of hot water. Horehound can be taken alone or with herbs mentioned above.

For kids

See age-appropriate dosages of herbal remedies

The congested lungs of the patient can be cleared through the use of the coltsfoot herb; this herb will remove the excess of mucus, and aid in alleviating the congestion. For children, a tea may be made from this herb by steeping it in boiling water, a single dose thrice a day for a treatment period of two days is sufficient and effective as a decongestant.

A sweet tasting herbal tea that soothes the throat and the respiratory passages at the same time can be made form the tincture of the licorice herb, alternately a tincture can also be made from the herb, the licorice is beneficial in that it is also bactericidal in its effects. Licorice works at the optimal level when warmed, and it should be warmed for use on a cough. Dosages of this herb for children can be a single dose, given thrice a day, for a total treatment period of two or three days during the cough.

Licorice can also be used in combination with the coltsfoot herb. For your attention: children with a high blood pressure must not be administered licorice or any of its derivatives. The medication to use in cases of children having a diarrhea along with the heavy cough is the herb known as the lungwort. Besides clearing a cough, the herb has a high content of ascorbic acid or vitamin C, besides these abilities it can also act as an astringent.

Dosage for children of this herb can be a single dose, twice or thrice a day, for a treatment period of two to three days in total during the cough. The respiratory tract and the throat can be soothed and alleviated through the use of the root of the marshmallow herb. Dosages of the marshmallow tea can be a single dose trice daily, for a treatment period of two days in total.

Peppermint oil is the active purified and refined agent in menthol lozenges, the Food and Drug Administration also recognizes peppermint oil as an effective cough suppressant in people afflicted with severe cases of coughing. The most preferred form of the menthol lozenges are those manufactured without using sugar.

As and when needed during the treatment period, children should be given a single lozenge every hour, during the cough. Tea made from the mullein herb is the best medication for children in whom the cough has just begun. The throat and the lungs are greatly effected and relieved through the actions of this herb, when used in the form of an herbal tea in a child with cough.

Therefore it can precede the use of an expectorant, with particular reference to the early stages of the cough where it is the most effective treatment that can be given. Dosages of this tea for children can be a single dose, taken two or three times everyday, for a total treatment time of two or three days during the cough. The lungs can be cleared of congesting mucus through the use of an effective aromatic herb known as the osha root, this herb can be taken in the form of a tea or in tincture form, whichever is preferred by the child. A dry cough is the type of cough where this herb is particularly effective in alleviating.

Dosages of this herb for children can be a single dose, taken thrice daily, for a total treatment period of three or four days during the cough. Excessive amounts of mucus in the lungs can be eliminated through the use of an herbal tea made form the sage and the thyme, during a cough. Dosage of this herbal tea for children can be a single dose of the tea, taken thrice a day for a total dosage period of two days during the cough.

An herbal tea or a soothing lozenge can also be made from the bark of the slippery elm. Dosage of this tea or tincture can be a single dose, taken thrice a day for a total dosage period of three to four days during the cough. Native American tribes have made traditional use of the flavored and effective bark of the wild cherry bark, and have traditionally made a herbal tea or syrup to combat bronchitis, colds and coughs in a sick person. Dosages of this tea or syrup for children cab are a single dose, taken two times everyday, for a total dosage period of three days during the cough.

For you attention: if taken in large amounts, the bark of the wild cherry is known to be toxic to people. Therefore its utilization by children less than four years of age and by women in any stage of pregnancy is not advisable at any time or for any reasons. Topical applications made from herbs can be tried in its stead.

Prepare an external or topical herbal massage oil or rub using four tablespoons of olive oil, to this oil can be added two drops of one or all of herbs and plant essences given: two drops of the rosemary essence, and or two drops of the oil of the peppermint herb, or two drops of eucalyptus oil or two drops of the essence of sage.

This massage oil mixture must be slowly and thoroughly rubbed onto the chest of the affected child to alleviate and remove the coughing and to relieve and soothe her respiratory tract during the worst fits of coughing or at night. A warm bath for affected children can also be prepared by adding a few drops of the oils of the sage the thyme or eucalyptus, sage into the prepared bath water. An irritated throat can be greatly soothed and relieved through the inhalation of herbal vapors by the child.

Other beneficial herbs


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