Natural remedies for a persistent cough by Goodhealth

Natural remedies for a persistent cough

September 1, 2023

Coughs are a common irritation this time of year. Not only does coughing spread germs quickly, whether it is dry and irritable or chesty and productive, a persistent cough can be extremely disruptive to you and those around you. There are two primary types of coughs, and it is important to understand the difference between the two to ensure a rapid recovery.

A productive cough

Often sits on the chest and is easily identified by the production of mucus or phlegm; often you may not be coughing mucus up however feel like you should be. This type of cough should not be suppressed; as the mucus needs to be lifted off the chest, however this can be extremely frustrating in the evening.

A dry cough

The familiar tickle at the back of the throat should be suppressed to relieve irritation. A dry cough is often made worse from cold, dry air, allergies, or a dusty environment; therefore, it is important to keep warm and soothe the throat.

Many of us will suffer from either a dry or chesty cough this winter; we have 5 natural remedies to help soothe a cough this winter and get you back on the road to recovery.

1. Get steamy!

When you are feeling under the weather, a steam inhalation can work wonders, supporting the airways to deal with congestion, helping to bring up mucus and soothe the throat. Adding key oils like tea tree and eucalyptus helps to impart their wonderful supportive benefits which can include antimicrobial actions, as well as supporting blood circulation and overall relaxation.

You will need:

  • 3 drops of tea tree oil
  • 2 drops of eucalyptus oil 
  • 2 drops of your favourite essential oil (optional)
  • A hot water bottle with a cover.

Directions: bring water to boil and let sit for a few minutes. Pour water into a hot water bottle so it is just over half full and add in essential oils. Sit upright in a stable chair with the hot water bottle against your chest and lid off, and deeply inhale the steam. Remember to sit very carefully to avoid water spilling and remember steam can also burn. Ideally do this for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times a day however this can be done as often as feels comfortable. Alternatively, you can try the old-fashioned way of placing in a bowl and covering your head with a tea towel.

2. Tea Thyme

Thyme has been used for centuries to support immunity. Thyme has an expectorant effect which helps to clear mucus, as well as supporting the relaxation of the throat muscles, the opening of the airways and the soothing of coughing. Thyme is also antimicrobial and so will support our body to deal with infection.

You will need:

  • A handful of fresh thyme sprigs (or 2 Tablespoons of dried thyme) 
  • 1 cup of fresh water
  • Honey or lemon to taste (optional)

Directions: Using a mortar and pestle, lightly bruise the thyme then place in an infuser. Bring water to boil and pour over thyme. Cover the mug to contain medicinal properties and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Add some lemon and honey to taste and drink; this can be consumed 2-3 times a day as required, especially before bedtime.


3. Liquid Liquorice

Liquorice root works to support the body to loosen mucus, soothe the throat and ease congestion. Liquorice also works to support the immune response to the after-effects of coughing.

You will need:

  • 2 Tablespoons of dried liquorice root
  • 1 cup of fresh water

Directions: Place liquorice in an infuser, bring water to boil and pour over liquorice root. Steep for 10-25 minutes and drink; this can be consumed up to twice a day.

4. Saltwater gargle

A popular remedy for sore throats, a saltwater gargle is not the most pleasant remedy, however it is one that works well! Saltwater gargles work through osmosis to support the immune response in the throat. When the concentration of sodium outside of the cell is higher than inside the cell, water naturally follows sodium out of the cell, helping the body to lower swelling and discomfort. This can also help to dislodge and expel mucus.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of warm water (boiled and left to cool)
  • 1 teaspoon of table salt

Directions: Thoroughly mix salt into water; gargle for 15 seconds a expel. Rinse with plain water afterwards. Repeat up to 3 times a day as needed however be careful not to repeat too often as you can risk drying out tissue.

5. A (spicy) spoonful of honey

Manuka honey is well-known for its antimicrobial properties however it is also effective in supporting the body’s response to a dry cough. Manuka honey provides not only a sweet taste but also soothes an irritable throat and is especially effective when taken at night. Manuka honey can be taken alone, or with added black pepper or garlic. Black pepper is the worlds most traded spice and makes a great remedy for coughs accompanied with mucus as it helps to expel congestion. If you have ever lent to close to freshly ground pepper in the kitchen, it is likely sneezing, or a cough followed! The pungent properties of garlic support the immune system.

You will need:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Manuka Honey
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic (optional)
  • 1 cup of fresh water 

Directions: Place the Manuka honey, black pepper and garlic in a mug and cover with boiling water. Give it a stir to disperse ingredients and melt the honey. Let cool for 10 minutes, stir again, and drink. Repeat 1-2 times a day as needed.

Don’t let a persistent cough slow you down this winter. The best defence against a cough is to prevent it from happening in the first place, by ensuring your immune system is well supported; however, if a cough does occur, natural remedies are a great way to help support the body’s natural healing process and as a bonus, many of these remedies will already be within your kitchen cupboard!