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Natural Remedies for Cough and Cold

Last Modified on Mar 27, 2014

Coughing is a natural reflex to help clear out foreign particles, irritants, and secretions from our lungs and airways, an autonomic response also known as tussis. The forced and sometimes violent exhalation can be voluntary as well as reflexive, since coughing is useful for moving and clearing out anything disturbing our breathing from the respiratory system.

Coughing can be indicative of illness when it starts occurring often and produces large amounts of mucus (known as a productive cough), which can harbor bacteria and viruses that can be spread through the air with coughing and sneezing. Common causes of coughs are colds, sinusitis, COPD, and post-nasal drip from allergic rhinitis. Dry coughs, or non-productive coughs, may persist after an infection possibly due to inflammation from the stress of so many productive coughs, and can remain for a number of weeks. An allergy cough may occur to clear the throat, but typically does not clear the airways.

Find Cough Relief!

Here on Earth Clinic we have a number of quite popular home remedies and natural cures for coughs as determined by our readers. We have received numerous positive reports about the use of apple cider vinegar, onions, hydrogen peroxide, garlic, and even menthol rubs to cure a cough. We are always interested in hearing about what you use to combat coughs and colds, and would love to hear about what you try or use regularly. If you have a remedy that isn't listed here, please feel welcomed to share it with us!


POPULAR REMEDIES:

Apple Cider Vinegar80 YEAS
Vicks16 YEAS
Onions10 YEAS
Hydrogen Peroxide6 YEAS
Garlic6 YEAS
Alicia\'s Red Onion Recipe5 YEAS

Alicia's Red Onion Recipe

Approval Ratings
YEA (5)
100%

03/22/2011: Yasmin from London, Uk : "If it's green it's an infection (not getting better as it's coming up' as someone said). Lots of garlic, thyme tea, ivy thyme complex (vogel) half and other half echinacea, high dose vitamin c, zinc 3 times a day, vicks on your chest, steaming with eucylyptus, and if no impovement in a few days go to see a herbalist.

Skip the alomond, the butters, the honey on it's own (manuka with lemon fine), any sugars (like syrups) or these will be very mucous producing and lower immunity..."

Replies
03/23/2011: Silver Nissan from North Yorkshire, Uk replies: "Yasmin, thanks for the advice. What is the best way to take garlic?SN"
[YEA]  06/25/2011: Pinky from Df, Mexico replies: "Hi I am from Mexico I have a great grandma's home remedy for cough with phlegm put water to boil and add dry oregano let boil for awhile and drain the oregano, you will have a tea, it will not taste good you can add honey or sugar to help the flavor but still it will be bitter, but it will help get rid of all your phlegm."


[YEA]  07/31/2009: Alicia Martines from Asheville, NC: "Red Onion. I am from Mexico, and my mother recommended me a red onion home made syrup for nagging coughs.

My first son had a times a cough that would never really go away. My second son was an extremely premature baby and therefore with "weak" immature lungs. I used this homemade syrup after trying everything, including various homeopathic formulas.

The original syrup calls for sugar but I have replaced it with honey or stevia. The onion has to be RED onion and I give it to my children either as lung strengthener or as medicine qwhen they do have a cough or cold.

Ingredients
1 big red onion washed and peeled.
sweetener (brown sugar, stevia, honey)

Cut the onion HORIZONTALLY in slices. Start at the base of the onion. Lay the newly cut base and place base in a bowl. Add a layer of the stevia or honey in here. GO easy as you have many layers to go and the sweetener from the top layers will eventually sip through the bottom layers
Repeat until the whole onion has been cut and reconstructed on the bowl.

Let it rest for at least 15 hrs at room temperature. I do it overnight.
Next day I have a bowl with about half a glass of "syrup". Children like the sweet taste. It doesn't taste like onion at all.

I hope you find this remedy as "miraculous" as I have!"

Replies
08/01/2009: Isabel from Tampa, Fl replies: "Please let me know how you take it, and how many times a day, for children and adult"
[YEA]  08/04/2009: Mary from Lesburg, Fl replies: "I found your Red Onion recipe for coughs to be very effective.I did however, modify slightly. I took 1/4 of a Red Onion and 1/2 cup of Honey and blended them together into a puree and strained the puree through a wire strainer. It seems to work fine. Another thing that helped stop my cough was to buy a bottle of ____ from my local pharmacy and took as directed."
10/05/2010: Cseemungal from Bronx, Ny, Usa replies: "As Isbella asked how often and what amount should be given to kids -- my son is almost 3, I refuse to give him anymore meds thats not doing anything for his awful cough. Thanks"
03/22/2011: Silver Nissan from North Yorkshire, Uk replies: "I have been having a cough for past 6 weeks with varying intensity. To start with it was phlegmy and then turned to a non producing spasmic cough. I have had a course of antibiotics. I was getting fed up with all and then I tried some remedies recommended in EC. Took almond butter with honey, turmeric and honey in warm milk, ginger and honey in warm water, pulped ginger in hot water, thyme leaves in hot water, sugar and honey in layered red onion slices and drinking the juice and finally leaving sliced onion at the bedside table. Now my cough turned into green phlegmy cough. What is the best way to get rid of it? some suggestions, please. Many Thanks, SILVER NISSAN"
05/05/2011: Terese from Terranora, Nsw, Australia replies: "Hi, I tried the red onion recipe and whilst I dont cough as much, I still have a crackling sound when I breathe out and feels tight around my chest. I had a cold several weeks ago which cleared up but the cough stayed. I feel ok, started on ACV & baking soda a week ago, mini protocol two days ago, am feeling not as good as a couple of days ago, but I think that is detox going on. Any advice on the chest complaint."
05/05/2011: Gavin from Manganui, Northland, New Zealand replies: "Re the crackling breath... Garlic and cayenne should clear it up in a couple of days. You will cough some stuff up and that should be that."
05/06/2011: Terese from Terranora, Nsw Australia replies: "Hi Gavin, Thanks for the info, how much of the cayenne and garlic do you take? I find that raw garlic gives me indigestion."
05/06/2011: Gavin from Manganui, Northland, New Zealand replies: "Ive been chopping up three cloves of garlic. Same amount of ginger and giving it a fry in the wok just briefly in virgin olive oil.. Then frying a slice of bread then an egg... Then press about a third of a teaspoon of cayenne into the fried bread on a corner.. and putting some egg yoke over it straight away and eating. The ginger has nothing to do with the crackily throut issue but.. The ginger really does act like a cortico steroid without any side effects for stopping back pain... (The actual recipe for backpain is ginger tumeric and cayenne) and need a full week to clear up any pain... but as far as the Throat and lung issue goes The cayenne alone will do it in no time."
[YEA]  10/26/2013: Josey from Las Vegas replies: "I have had a nonproductive cough for about 2 weeks. I tried the red onion and honey this morning and I feel like new! Just a little cough left but not bad at all. Thank you Earthclinic (again! ) and thank you Alicia for the recipe. This is a keeper and I will use it everytime a cough comes up."
[YEA]  01/03/2014: Deborah from Prescott, Az replies: "Fantastic remedy. I made it this week for my husband who had a nagging cough after a week-long illness, and at the same time recommended it to a friend with a 12-year old daughter who had been coughing for 3 weeks.

Both my husband and my friend's daughter a) loved the taste of the recipe and b) had excellent and fast results from it.

My friend actually wrote me the morning after her daughter's first dose; it had been the first night in 3 weeks that both she and her daughter slept through the night due to a complete cessation of coughing. She was absolutely thrilled and continued to give it to her daughter in the days to follow with great results.

Excellent and highly recommended remedy!"


Almond Paste or Butter

Approval Ratings
YEA (1)
100%

[YEA]  01/30/2010: Adamo from Toronto, Ontario, Canada: "Here's something that works for me. For relief of dry coughs, take one teaspoon of organic almond paste or butter. You can add a half teaspoon of honey if you like. Have as often as needed but 3-4 times a day is usually sufficient."

Replies
01/31/2010: Kay from In The Valley, Ca replies: "Chrissy, do you have any idea why it works? Did you read about it somewhere, or did you just fall upon it by accident? I'm curious to know. Thanks for sharing!"
12/27/2011: Carly from Duluth, Mn, Usa replies: "The almonds are high in magnesium which helps lung function. :)"


Anise Seed Tincture for Nonproductive Cough

Approval Ratings
YEA (1)
100%

[YEA]  01/11/2008: Brigitte from Houston, Texas: "re: anise seed tincture for treatment of nonproductive coughs. A nonproductive cough is another name for a dry cough which does nothing to move phlem from the throat and lumgs. This is often a precursor to a more serious ailment like pneumonia. It is of the utmost importance that you remove the excessive phlem from your system. I have found that the best expectorant that I can find is made by placing five tablespoons anise seeds into 1 cup of rum. I take no more than 2 teaspoons of this as needed to induce a cough which allows for the mucus to be removed from the body. A note to nursing mothers who have problems with milk production; a good side affect of anise is that it increases milk production in lactating mothers. I know this for a fact as my last child was born when I was 40 and I had problems producing milk sufficient to meet my child's needs. Be cognisant of the fact that you do not want to over do it with alcohol if you are nursing as this would be counter productive to the health and well being of the child who depends on you for nourishment. I used an anise tea when I was nursing it works well for increasing milk production."

Replies
12/22/2008: Ali from Gatron, Kano/Nigerian replies: "yours grateful. i'm have nonereproductive cough i am very happy that i locate this page.glory be to GOD.this is an ailment that was try to terminate my health since 1997,i was conduct difference doctor with difference medices but the syptom persist.thanks. yours faithfully."
01/07/2009: David from Houston, Texas replies: "On the Anise Seed remedy for cough, it does not state how to use. It only states "the best expectorant that I can find is made by placing five tablespoons anise seeds into 1 cup of rum. I take no more than 2 teaspoons of this as needed to induce a cough which allows for the mucus to be removed from the body."

My question is, do I let the anise soak in the rum for a certain amt of time before then taking the 2 tsp of it as needed? If you could be more specific I'd greatly appreciate it.

Thank you."
07/15/2009: Terri from Boulder, Colorado replies: "To David from Houston. I googled this and the recipe is 5 tablespoons anise seed in one pint of rum. Let it age for two weeks. Is this how you are doing your tincture??"
02/05/2012: Susan from Brookline, Ma replies: "Hi, could the anise seeds be put in something non alcoholic as I cant drink even a little. Mybe glycerin?"
03/07/2012: Adrienne from Kansas City, Mo Usa replies: "Susan, RE: Non-alcoholic tincture: For a non-alcoholic tincture dose pour the tincture into a spoon and set it on fire. The alcohol will burn off."


Apple Cider Vinegar

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Apple Cider Vinegar Cure for Coughs

Home Remedy Ingredients

  • Apple Cider Vinegar - 1 Teaspoon
  • Filtered Water - 8 to 10 Ounces

The apple cider vinegar tonic, taken two-three times a day, can quickly break up congestion and soothe a cough. Add one tablespoon each apple cider vinegar and honey to a tall glass of warm water, and sip.

03/27/2014: Jill from Illinois: "Has anyone experienced a persistent cough from acid reflux? If so, does apple cider vinegar help?"


02/07/2014: Mey from Leb: "My 4 years old daughter have cold and coughing since three weeks, she is really bad, I visited a lot of doctors and she took a lot of medication, but it ls not stoping, can I try the Apple Cider Vinegar steam for her? Please need answer"

Replies
02/07/2014: Mama To Many from Tennessee, Usa replies: "Dear Mey,

I am so sorry your little one has been sick with a cough for so long.

I have never tried the vinegar steam. I would worry a bit that it might sting the eyes. Perhaps someone else has tried and would be able to advise on that.

We have dealt with many coughs and I can share some things that work very well.

Garlic Salve is easy to make and works so very well.

Garlic Salve

  • 1/3 c. Coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cloves peeled garlic
  • 5 or so drops of lavender oil

"Pour everything into a blender and mix until smooth. Strain off the bits of garlic, and store the liquid in a wide-mouth glass jar in the fridge. It will solidify as it cools. If your child has super sensitive skin, you might try adding more coconut oil and olive oil.

Apply liberally to the chest, back, and bottoms of feet (covered with socks) at least four times a day, and as often as every couple of hours, as needed. This isn't something that you can overdose on, so don't be afraid to use too much. If it doesn't seem to be working, use more! "

Rachel Weaver, the creator of this recipe, has used this to treat babies with pneumonia. She uses it like an anti-biotic, except it is also anti-viral. (She will say to use it every two hours if you are treating pneumonia. )

If you do not have coconut oil, just substitute more olive oil for the coconut oil. You can skip the lavender if you don't have it. The garlic is the most important thing, it just must be diluted in the olive oil.

We have also used the steam method with just kitchen spices. We boil 2 cups of water and add 1/4 teaspoon of the following: garlic, onion, clove, cinnamon, caraway seeds, thyme and sage. You can leave out something if you do not have it. I put the pot on a chair on a potholder and the child on a couch. I put the rungs of the chair between the pot and child, so they are less likely to get burned. Then I drape a sheet over the child and the chair with the pot. It is a little steam tent. This can be done as often as needed. The spices are helpful in killing germs

You can steam and do the garlic salve if you like. Do avoid dairy while getting over a cough.

I hope your little one is better soon!

~Mama to Many~"


[YEA]  11/05/2013: Linterest from Brisbane, Australia: "My son has had a cough for several weeks. He has had a diagnosis of mild pneumonia and 2 course of antibotics. The cough has remained. I tried another apple cider vinegar remedy on another site. I decided to check what works for most earth clinic peoples and found that generally apple cider vinegar and honey in warm water seemed successful. I made him drink 2 tabs of apple cider vinegar and 1 teas of honey (I am a mean mum and I am strict on sugar). It honestly worked a treat and his cough seemed to have cleared up in a day!"


[YEA]  10/05/2013: Yolanda from Texas: "Wow, just took the apple cider vinegar with a little lemon and a squeeze of honey and my cough stopped almost immediately. This stuff is really great."


[YEA]  06/04/2013: Jeanette from Houston, Tx, Usa: "I've been coughing for almost a year. Tried every cough syrup on the market and even gone to see four different doctors and still no cure. Well, I left for Maryland on May 28, 2013 and found a cure. A young lady there told me to try Organic ACV with the Mother. You can find it at any Whole Foods Market or Sprouts Market. I mixed 1-TBLS with 1-16.9 oz of water at room temperature and slowly sipped until all gone and guess what.... Coughing has completely stopped. I guess the right type of ACV makes the world of difference. Give it one more try before giving up."


[YEA]  04/02/2013: Kl from Coughville, Ct: "My slight headcold turned into a nasty watery cough. Plus I lost my voice off and on throughout the day. Although I felt completely fine, people at work treated me like I was dying and I knew my coughing was distracting them.

Over the counter medicine did nothing for my congestion - seemingly turning everything into what felt like glue in my sinuses.

After checking out the site, I tried ACV. It really did the trick. However, I wish it didn't taste horrible to me.

I started with 1 TB ACV, 1 TB honey, 1 TB lemon juice, 2 TB water. Drinking it like a "shot" wasn't so bad, but it didn't seem to keep the cough away very long.

Next, in the evening I tried 2 TB ACV, 1 TB honey, in a small glass of warm water. No coughing at all during the night. Woohoo!

At 7am this morning, I took the same 2tb ACV with honey in a glass of water. It worked until it seemingly wore off at 11am. Then it felt like I was drowning in phelegm. Thankfully it was (sorry to be gross) now the consistency of saliva I was coughing up. When I was first sicker and not using the ACV, it was a yellow mucus. So I know I'm getting better even when I have to cough a little. I'm just not 100% yet.

Once I got home from work and drank another 2TB ACV 1 TB honey mixure in water, the coughing and "drowning in water" feeling is completely gone."


01/28/2013: Liz from Ojai, Ca: "Hello. I have a terrible cough and the flu. The fever broke finally but I am coughing like crazy. I am insulin resisant and should not use honey. Has anyone had success without the use of honey? Is this just used for taste or is there a medicinal purpose for the honey [in the apple cider vinegar cough remedy]?"

Replies
04/04/2013: Leesha from <3, Ca replies: "Stumbled across this post while doing research. I'm sure you're healthy by now (I hope!! ) but just wanted to mention for future, check out glycemic difference between raw honey and processed ("regular") honey. It's pretty astonishing. Don't know if that's helpful for you, but just in case, wanted to pass it along.

PS. I believe the honey in this recipe is mostly for taste, though in its raw form it does have healing properties."


[YEA]  11/19/2012: Faith from Kerikeri, New Zealand: "My 5 year old daughter has had a very persistent cough, for over 2 weeks, the last few nights have been very long, as she coughs all night, to the point of gagging, all other remedies were not helping, have today given her 3 doses of 1tsp apple cider vinegar and 1tsp of honey and a dash of hot water to dissolve honey, she drinks it rather happily, and it has made a huge difference today, her coughing has been cut by more than half, I would fully advise everyone to at least give it a try. Am hoping for a quiet night of sleep, so far so good!!"

Replies
[YEA]  11/26/2012: Kim from Smalltown, Fl replies: "I was willing to try anything at this time of night (half past midnight). Tried the ACV with honey and warm water. About 20 minutes after drinking it, I coughed up phelm and have not coughed in almost one hour."
01/01/2013: Patty from Absecon, Nj replies: "Yeah today is 1/12013 I've took 2tsp of vinegar and 2tsp of honey with 6once of warm water @ like 11:30pm to see if it would stop the dry coughing ill let y'all know in like a few hour if it worked."
01/08/2013: Anna M from Austin, Tx replies: "My mother in law swears by ACV. This time after reading about ACV remedies, thought I'd give it a try. I hate vinegar. So you all know that this will be a challenge for me. Here goes! I'll let the message board know if I survived."


09/24/2012: Aurora from Palo Alto, Ca: "Hi, I tried the diluted ACV for several days, and straight ACV for two days now, and it's not helping... I've been getting very little sleep for 3 weeks now due to a bad cough that is getting worse and worse, and am getting desperate. I even tried straight shots of ACV yesterday to see if it would help, but no.

My cough feels different somehow; there was no flu or cold symptoms. There is no phlegm. None! I've had plenty of regular coughs in my childhood, but this feels very different. It all started with an annying "tickle" in the throat. The tickle has now slowly moved down all the way into my lungs. It feels like I just took a breath of dust or something and my body is trying to get rid of it; but it just stays there and so I keep coughing... , I've done some muscle testing (I'm no expert) and what I get is that there is some foreign matter irritating and tickling. It started when I was working temporarily at SF State University for a couple of days.

Does anybody have a suggestion? I've tried ACV, cough-syrups, anise, oil of thyme, oil of oregano, steaming (couldn't continue because I started coughing so bad... ) vapo-rubs, eucalyptos, chamomile tea, green tea with cough-drops, honey and lemon, and milk and honey......... Thank you so much! I am doing oil-pulling and MBP as well, took a break today. I'm soo exhausted."

Replies
09/24/2012: Lisa from Thousand Oaks, Ca, Usa replies: "Hi Aurora, If you can get yourself to a Traditional Chinese medicine Dr. they can take care of this. This happened to me many years ago, at this point, and my TCM Dr. said it's because the lung chi is weak so the coughing is unproductive. Once that is righted, the body can do its work efficiently. Hope this helps, Lisa"


04/16/2012: Katherine from Palisade, Co: "I've had a horrid cough for 6 days. I can't sleep because I wake up every 10-20 minutes coughing sometimes to the point of vomiting. I've been taking the herb extract Mullein, it helps some, but not much. I just took two Tbsp's ACV and a tiny bit of honey as a chaser. Experiencing a lot of coughing now... I hope it is a "final" cleansing of these tired, old lungs. It's been 10 minutes since I took the ACV/honey. I just choked out a lot of mucus and now I am quiet. Hmmmm... My last cough was dry, no phlegm that is progress. I'll check back in a couple hours and let you know how it's going!"

Replies
[YEA]  04/24/2012: Akgirl from Kenny Lake, Alaska replies: "I live in a remote area of Alaska so I do not have immediate access to many organic remidies. After suffering from a persistant, wet cough for days, I read everyone's posts here. I decided to try the remedies with simple, store bought ingrediants that I had on hand. 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar, 2 tsp Lemon Juice, 1 tsp Honey in a cup of Green Tea ~ It WORKED! I haven't coughed in several hours now! Thank you so much for the tips!"
[YEA]  09/22/2012: Latrese from Calera, Alabama replies: "ok, let me start from the begining. I have had a chronic cough and excessive mucus problem for about 5 years. Its like I woke up one day with a little cold and it turned into a long dreaded, hacking cough followed by mucus. I am up all night from coughing and can feel the mucus in the throat at night when trying to sleep and I wake up coughing which ends in throwing up from coughing so hard. I have coughed so hard within this year that I started coughing up a little blood and I assumed it was from irritated lungs. I tried every cough syrup otc and nothing helped. I tried cough drops and went to the doctor for meds that did not help.

I started looking up remedies today out of pure desperation as I felt like I could die at anytime from coughing ( literally ). I would ask god to please help me and felt helpless. I dont have a lot of faith in doctors as they usually take my money and have no idea what the hell they are doing. I think sometimes we are just a big experiment for some doctors and it sucks to just be prescried some meds and sent off as if your illness is all in your head.

I googled remedies for coughs and mucus today and earthclinic popped up first on the list. I clicked on the link and thank god I did. I read about ACV and honey and decided that I had nothing to lose and decided to try as these things are already in my cabinet. I was heading out with the kids for a day out and took the ACV and honey at 11:30. I usually cough every couple of minutes but 10 minutes had went by and no cough so Im timing things and getting excited at this point. 30 minutes go by and no cough or the thick, sticky mucus. So now 2 hours go by and still no cough so I say OMG this can't be real. The kids decide that they want to go to the movies and I never go with them because of the coughing and throwing up. I decide to go and no coughing or mucus for the entire movie. we leave the movie at 2:45 and still no mucus but I feel a cough coming on but its a different feeling. I cough and its a small cough and last a couple of seconds. it is not 10:39 pm and still no cough. I am going to take some before bed and pray that I sleep well as I am always up all night coughing. I advise anyone who is having a coughing problem to give this a try. What do you have to lose? I will let everyone know the results of my night. If I sleep well it will be for the first time in 5 years. GOOOOO ACV AND HONEY!!!!!!"

[YEA]  10/12/2012: Marbrill from Brooklyn, Ny/usa replies: "Just tried ACV, a pinch of cayenne, honey, lemon and hot water. I cannot believe it. It didn't work immediately but now, 10 minutes later, my cough is much calmer and my throat doesn't hurt as much. I am going to make a base of this, and add hot water and sip throughout the day. I'll also take zinc and garlic and I'll report back!"


03/18/2012: Mamamia from Victoria, Tx: "Okay. I am your typical hate-going-to-the-doctor, hate-taking-medicine (even if it tastes good), hate-eating-my-vegetables kind of person. Which is probably why I developed bronchitis. I did give in and went the doctor to get antibiotics (jury's still out on their effectiveness). But I have this horrible, non-ending cough that is driving everyone in the house crazy and keeping me from getting any sleep. Like other women out there, after 4 children each 18 months apart, my bladder is no longer any friend of mine. So coughing is extremely irritating. I am allergic to dextromethorphan and cannot take most of the OTC medicines out there. I was referred to this site by a friend and have been reading about everyone swearing Apple Cider Vinegar is a cure all. I happen to have ______ organic, raw un-filtered, with the 'mother' ACV on the shelf, and tried mixing 2 Tbsp of ACV with 4 Tbsp apple juice. OMG. It was the most godawful taste. It tasted like I accidentally drank the kids' Easter egg dye. But I got it down and I am awaiting the results. I will try another glass before bedtime, adding honey in to hopefully make it more palatable. I just need some sleep! I will try to keep everyone informed of this little journey I've put myself on. This is the first time I haven't relied on a Rx to make me feel better."






 



 

DISCLAIMER: Our readers offer information and opinions on Earth Clinic, not as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician, pharmacist, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested by anyone on this site. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history.

 

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