Coughing spells are caused by an infection or an allergy, among other things. Depending on the nature and severity of other symptoms, people may or may not choose to consult a doctor for a cough. They may attempt to let it pass or treat it themselves.

Home remedies can alleviate or shorten the duration of a cough, but it is always best to speak to a doctor if symptoms advance, last more than a few days, or if one is taking medications.


Some people report that a spoonful of honey can calm a persistent cough more effectively than over-the-counter medicines. Honey is an age-old dry cough remedy that gets its benefits from its analgesic properties. The golden nectar sticks to the irritated mucous membranes and coats them to provide relief. Honey also has antibacterial properties that can help shorten the duration of the cough if a bacterial infection is to blame.

Simply mix honey in warm milk or water to make a drink that can help relieve cough and chest pain. Note that honey should not be given to children under the age of one.

Cough Relief: 15 Natural Remedies to Try at Home

Gargle Salt Water

Perhaps one of the most well-known and practical solutions for coughing is gargling. Gargling with salt water four to five times a day can help calm a cough by loosening mucus, therefore flushing out bacteria and easing inflammation.

Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in lukewarm water for the best results. The salt can draw excess fluid from cells, which eases inflammation, dislodges phlegm hanging in the throat, and reduces soreness.

woman gargling salt water with cold symptoms


Ginger Peppermint Syrup

  Ginger is another favored cure for cough relief. The natural anesthetic and soothing properties of ginger help reduce irritation and scratchiness in the throat. Even store-bought cough syrups often contain this healing root. Ginger's anti-inflammatory properties ease irritation, as well. Peppermint has a similar effect.

Make your own syrup by boiling three tablespoons of chopped ginger root and one tablespoon of pure peppermint extract in four or five cups of water. After the mixture has simmered a while and cooled, add a cup of honey. Store the syrup in the fridge for up to three weeks and take up to three tablespoons each day.

tea with peppermint and ginger


Hot Milk with Honey

Honey is powerful on its own, but mixing it with milk can make a soothing remedy for a dry throat. Hot milk brings phlegm up from the respiratory tract and reduces chest pain. Mix a spoonful of honey into a glass of warm milk and drink it slowly to experience reduced congestion and coughing.

Try drinking this mixture shortly before bed to get the most of the relaxing qualities, as well.

Cough Relief: 15 Natural Remedies to Try at Home


Chicken Soup

There's a reason grandmothers everywhere have been recommending chicken soup for treating a cough and cold! Scientists suspect that chicken soup contains anti-inflammatory chemicals that help to suppress common symptoms (like coughs and sneezes).

Chicken soup is also a source of mucus-thinning cysteine, and the high electrolyte content (aka, all that sweet, sweet, salt) helps to keep you appropriately hydrated.




Turmeric contains curcumin, which has a therapeutic effect on sore throats and coughing. It increases mucus production and naturally flushes out bacteria in the respiratory tract. Curcumin is known for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Boil a cup of water and add one spoonful of turmeric powder. Black pepper, honey, and cinnamon sticks can make the mixture even more effective. Boil the drink for three to four minutes, and drink this mixture a couple of times each day until the symptoms ease. Warm milk with turmeric can also soothe a dry cough.

Cough Relief: 15 Natural Remedies to Try at Home

Breathe In Steam

Steam is a simple method for treating cough and congestion. It loosens phlegm, moisturizes the throat, and clears nasal passages. Adding essential oils to a steam bath can incorporate the anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties of some oils, though this should be done with care, as strong vapors could cause more issues.

Simply boil water and let it cool slightly. Pour it into a bowl, add a drop of eucalyptus or tea tree oil, and place your face over the bowl with a towel over your head.

man holding his face over a steam bath nasal congestion cough


Have a Hot Bath

Another way to incorporate steam into home cough treatments is by taking a bath. Warm baths will help break up mucus and phlegm inside the chest and throat. In the colder months, when coughs routinely develop, baths can improve these symptoms and ease any accompanying muscle pain, as well as simply feeling good.

Make the water quite warm, but keep in mind that very hot water can result in dry skin. Once the bath is drawn, attempt to remain in the tub, breathing deeply in the steam, for as long as possible.

Cough Relief: 15 Natural Remedies to Try at Home

Throat Lozenges

Throat lozenges can decrease the cough reflex by numbing the back of the throat. This, in turn, reduces irritation.

Lozenges containing active ingredients such as honey, peppermint oil, or menthol are the best choices, though any drop that encourages salivation can moisturize the throat enough to quell coughing temporarily.

Cough Relief: 15 Natural Remedies to Try at Home


Thyme Tea

Thyme is an effective treatment for respiratory illnesses. One study indicated that essence of thyme combined with a pharmaceutical reduced the length and severity of short-term bronchitis and incessant coughing. Thyme leaves contain flavonoids with antimicrobial properties that can relax the throat muscles, reducing inflammation.

Simply mix crushed thyme leaves in a cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it steep for five to ten minutes, then drain the leaves and drink the tea.

Cough Relief: 15 Natural Remedies to Try at Home


Lemon and Cinnamon

Try this warming drink; a mix of hot water, cinnamon, and lemon can support the immune system and reduce the duration of unpleasant symptoms like coughs and blocked noses that come along with a seasonal cold.

You only need a pinch of cinnamon. Feel free to add a touch of honey and some ginger to ramp up the healing benefits.

woman holding a mug of cinnamon tea

Licorice Root

Licorice root assists in bringing up mucus from your lungs. It is also a demulcent, which means it forms a soothing film over the top of your irritated throat tissue and reduces inflammation.

Simply add 2 tbsp of dried licorice root to eight ounces of boiled water, steep the tea for up to 15 minutes, and drink once or twice a day. Avoid taking licorice root if you have problems with your kidneys or are taking steroids.



Echinacea and Sage Spray

A number of studies show that echinacea and sage are just as effective as more expensive medicinal sprays marketed to fight coughs and sore throats. You can find this type of spray in many health food or alternative medicine stores, and it’s generally recommended that you spray your throat every couple of hours while you’re experiencing irritation.

You can also try making the spray yourself by mixing echinacea extract with sage extract and a little bit of saline water. Remember to check with a doctor first if you're on any medications, as some herbs can interfere.



Mustard seeds

Mustard seeds are rich in sulfur-containing compounds that will help to loosen some of those thick secretions in your respiratory tract.

Crush the mustard seeds and soak them in water for 15-20 minutes. Steep them in a cup of boiling water, strain after 5-10 minutes, and drink when it has cooled a little. If you really don’t like the taste, consider drinking it in small doses at 2-3 hour intervals.



Marshmallow Root

The sap of the marshmallow root has long been used to treat coughs and sore throats. Marshmallow contains mucilage that can soothe by coating the throat and removing mucus.

Marshmallow root is available at many health stores as a capsule or tea. Children under three should not be given marshmallow root, however.

Cough Relief: 15 Natural Remedies to Try at Home

Slippery elm

Slippery elm has been used to treat coughs and sore throats by Indigenous groups for millennia. Like licorice, it contains a substance similar to mucus that coats the throat and reduces both soreness and itchiness.

Pour some boiling water over powdered slippery elm bark, stir it, and drink. Some health food stores also carry slippery elm throat lozenges.



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