Whether you have a pesky tickle in your throat or sudden hacking fits that won't quit, a persistent winter cough is undoubtedly one of the worst parts of the season. A cough is often the last symptom of a winter cold to disappear — you can feel mostly better (your head finally cleared up, ready to return to work), but still be coughing up a storm. In the time of COVID, it feels more important than ever to get rid of a cough as soon as possible. While there's no one-size-fits-all remedy, we've gathered three expert-recommended natural cough cures that may help you finally find relief, so you can get back to work and spend time with family and friends without hacking.
1. For a Productive Cough: Try Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus oil, which comes from the eucalyptus trees originally native to Australia, has long been used as a natural remedy to clear a productive cough (one that brings up mucus or phlegm). Eucalyptus oil is an active ingredient in the classic over-the-counter cold aid Vick's VapoRub, and Mount Sinai Health notes that it can also be used in its essential oil form (rather than as a lotion like VapoRub) to help loosen phlegm. To try this potential remedy for yourself, tent a towel over a bowl of hot water infused with 12 drops of eucalyptus oil. Place your face beneath the towel, about a foot away from the bowl, and breathe deeply for 10 minutes. Steam may also help soothe your cough by clearing up nasal passages.
Note: While eucalyptus has a long history of use as a cough treatment, additional research has found it may not be the most effective remedy. More research is needed to prove that eucalyptus is as effective as other cough remedies, according to scientists reporting in the Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine.
2. For a Throat-Clearing Cough: Try a Nasal Rinse
If you constantly need to clear your throat, blame postnasal drip. Dry air triggers mucus to run down the back of your throat, irritating tissues and causing a persistent, tickly cough. The fix: Flush your sinuses using a neti pot. A review published in American Family Physician found that giving your nasal passages a saline rinse is "an effective management strategy for many sinonasal conditions." Try pouring one cup of distilled water and half a teaspoon of Dead Sea salts or kosher salt into a neti pot or nasal spray bottle and flush your sinuses twice daily.
3. For a Dry Cough: Try Marshmallow Root Tea
Marshmallow root tea may sound odd, but it actually might help that nagging dry cough. A small study published in the Journal of Complementary Medicine Research found that an herbal cough syrup containing marshmallow root provided cough relief for some subjects. When sipped in warm tea, the ingredient brims with throat-coating mucilage that may calm the upper respiratory irritation responsible for a dry cough. Try a cup of this tea sweetened with a teaspoon of honey, which is another cough-soothing ingredient.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman's World.