Got an annoying cough you can’t wait to get rid of? Whether it’s from allergies, or the leftovers from a cold you’ve recently kicked, a cough can disrupt your days and destroy your nights.
If you don’t want to gulp down heavy duty cough medicine when you don’t even feel sick, or pop prescription steroids when you’ve already gotten over your cold, there are some natural solutions you can try instead.
We admit these cough calmers might seem a bit strange at first, but these safe and effective solutions could have you back to your old self in no time, without having to face the dangerous drug side effects.
1. Coffee and honey:
If your cold has already hit the road, but your cough refuses to take the hint, head to the kitchen for this delicious, but strange, dynamic duo. Down a cup of coffee followed by one and a half tablespoons of honey three times a day.
According to researchers this crazy combo beats steroids when it comes to calming post infection coughs. In a study published in Primary Care Respiratory Journal the coffee and honey team practically eliminated coughing, beating out prednisone which only delivered minor improvements.1
Why it works:
The warm coffee soothes your irritated throat tissues, while the caffeine serves as a minor pain reliever. Meanwhile the honey reduces the swelling that can kick off a round of coughing, while it helps heal damaged throat tissues.
2. Dark chocolate:
Savoring a few squares of dark chocolate, letting them slowly melt in your mouth, could be all it takes to quiet your stubborn cough. In fact, experts say it can be even more effective than the drug codeine.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study a chocolate extract quickly and effectively calmed capsaicin triggered coughing.2 And according to researchers there were zero side effects. In another study, 60 percent of a group of patients hospitalized for cough experienced relief using a cocoa-based treatment.3
Why it works:
The key to dark chocolate’s cough calming abilities is theobromine, a molecule that’s partially responsible for its slightly bitter bite.
The chocolate coats the throat relieving inflammation, and allowing the theobromine to help to calm the nerves that causes us to cough.
Honey has long been prized not just for its taste, but for its healing properties. Its medicinal use stretches all the way back to ancient Egypt, and it’s believed that honey can help prevent the growth of yeast, bacteria and viruses.
As a natural antibacterial the sweet stuff has often been used to treat burns and minor wounds. And countless singers, actors and other folks who work with their voice swear a combination of honey and lemon keeps their throats in tip top shape.
But it turns out honey alone can be as effective as the cough suppressant drug dextromethorphan. When coughing kids were given a small dose of honey before bedtime (up to two teaspoons) they coughed less and slept more soundly than children given the drug, according to a study published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.4
Just make sure to not give honey to children under two years old.
Why it works:
The stickiness of the honey is the key to its throat soothing and cough calming abilities. Honey is what experts call a demulcent. Which simply means it naturally calms irritation by creating a soothing film.
4. Salt water:
Countless moms and grandmas have recommended gargling with salt water for a sore throat and cough. And countless kids and grandkids haven’t listened. But if you’re one of them it’s time to give this age-old advice another look, because according to experts it works.
Dissolve a half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water, gargle with it for 10 to 15 seconds and then spit it out. This will instantly ease a scratchy, irritated throat and help get rid of that annoying cough as effectively as many over the counter drugs.
In a randomized controlled trial, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a group of volunteers who gargled with salt water during the study period slashed their risk of the upper respiratory infections that cause coughing by 40 percent.5
Why it works:
When you get a sore throat and cough your throat tissues get irritated and swollen as fluids build up in them. The salt gently pulls some of the water from the inflamed tissues, easing pain and irritation. As a result you aren’t triggering to cough as often.
In addition the saline helps flush out the allergens or bugs that are behind your cough, and makes your throat an unfriendly environment for them to return too.
Next time you’re fighting an irritating cough skip the cough meds, and their ugly side effects, and quiet that hack with one of these natural solutions instead.