home remedies for cough
home remedies for cough

20 Home Remedies for Cough

A persistent cough is awful. It disturbs your sleep and prevents you from properly doing what you have to.

Coughing is actually how your body naturally reacts when your airway is irritated or blocked. It can also come with allergies, colds or flu. Although there are several home remedies that work great, it is useful to be aware of the cause of the cough.

If food particles have entered your airway by accident while you were swallowing, you will only experience a temporary block of the airway and a hard cough. Nevertheless, this is solved quite fast. On the other hand, bacterial and viral throat infections can cause shallow but painful coughing. In this case, attacking the infection is the best solution.

Types of Cough

Dry cough, which is due to your airway lining being irritated, is usually caused by respiratory allergens. In this case, it is better to suppress the cough. Otherwise, it may worsen your airway.

Deep cough, which usually has phlegm, are often caused by respiratory infections. In this case, you should get rid of mucus blocking your airway. It is better to use home remedies that help you to bring out the mucus until the infection goes away.

However, dry cough can still be present afterward in case the mucosal lining of your airway got some damage. To solve this, you should keep your airway moist and hydrated.


1. Salt Water Gargle

Since a very long time, salt has been used to treat infections and inflammations. As a matter of fact, we can find salt treatments recipes in Egyptian papyrus scrolls dating of 1699 B.C. To this day, salt water gargle is recommended by dental surgeons to prevent infections and to heal faster following surgical procedures. In fact, gargling with salt water temporarily increases pH, which makes it difficult for bacteria to survive.

In a cup of warm water, add half a teaspoon of salt and mix. This isotonic solution, which is similar to tissue fluids found in salt concentration – will not irritate the mucous lining of your oral cavity. It will relieve the pain in your throat, regardless of it being caused by step throat, tonsilitis or common cold and allergies.

The effect that salt water gargle has on inflammation lasts for many hours. However, the longer the solution is in contact with throat tissues, the better. So, gargle with salt water throughout the day.

2. Inhaling Steam

Both dry cough caused by allergies and wet cough caused by respiratory infections such as bronchitis can be treated by inhaling steam. This method is very simple, yet works great. It helps to moisturize your airways, unblocks the phlegm built up there and helps against inflammation. In short, it cleans your nasal and chest congestion. Inhaling steam before bed can allow you to sleep without being disrupted by any coughing.

To make this method even more effective, you can add some eucalyptus essential oil to the water. Boiled water can provide sufficient steam for 10 to 15 minutes. Inhale the steam with your head covered with a towel. Make sure to stay at a safe distance so as to avoid being burnt. You need the vapor and not the heat.

3. Fresh Ginger

Ginger has great anti-inflammatory properties. It helps against throat soreness and airway inflammation, whether they are caused by allergens or infections. To prepare a cough syrup, you can mix ginger juice, extracted from a fresh rhizome, to honey. To soothe your throat and stop a cough, take some drops of the syrup.

You can also make ginger tea. It is very helpful against coughing bouts. Add some crushed ginger slices to water and boil for two to three minutes. You can store it in the refrigerator and warm some when needed.

4. Lemon and Honey

Lemon and honey make for a light bedtime drink that will help to soothe your throat and keep your airway hydrated during your sleep.

In warm water, add the juice of a small lemon and two tablespoons of honey and mix. This drink will help to unblock the mucus and to more easily bring it up. You can prepare this in a batch and use it when needed. A glass of lemon and honey water daily will make you feel great!

5. Dry Ginger and Black Pepper Powder

Dry ginger and black pepper powder is a traditional Ayurvedic cough remedy. It can provide you with immediate relief.

To obtain dry ginger, simply steam the ginger root lightly and let it dry. However, it is different from the fresh herb in terms of taste, flavor and therapeutic function.

All you need is a pinch of the mixture on your tongue as it is very spicy and has a strong taste. You can add some sugar powder or honey to the mixture to hide the taste.

6. Turmeric Milk

Turmeric is very popular in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. It is used to treat respiratory, digestive and skin ailments. It also has wonderful anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

The part of turmeric that is used is the yellow-colored rhizome of Curcuma longa, which is a herb related to ginger. Curcumin is the main active agent in turmeric and is what gives the spice this golden yellow color.

In a cup of hot milk, add one to two teaspoons of turmeric powder and mix. Drink this two times daily. Traditionally, it is recommended to use goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk because it is thought that the latter increases phlegm. You can also boil turmeric in water with a teaspoon of butter or coconut oil. The fat will enhance curcumin’s availability.

7. Raw Garlic

You can eat raw garlic cloves to get rid of a cough, whether it is caused by throat irritation or respiratory infections. Raw garlic has also been used to treat respiratory diseases including pneumonia and whooping cough. It contains bioactive chemicals that have wide-ranging antibacterial activity against both gram-positive and gram-negative pathogenic bacteria. This is mainly due to sulfur compounds like alliin and allicin, along with their derivatives.

Slightly crushing a garlic clove in your mouth will release some of its juice, which will help you to control coughing bouts. Adding crushed garlic to food can also help to prevent secondary infections following a cold or respiratory allergies.

8. Onion Juice

A milder alternative to garlic is onion. However, onion has several organosulfur compounds and flavonoid polyphenols that contribute to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Onion juice helps to treat bronchitis, to unblock mucus and to prevent bacterial growth in the throat.

Extract the juice of a grated red onion. Ingest half a teaspoon at a time. Mix with honey, sugar or juice to make it more palatable.

9. Hot Soup

Hot broth and soups soothe the throat and relieve coughs during cold and flu. Chicken soup is usually the go-to soup. However, it is, in fact, the spicy ingredients, such as onion, garlic, ginger and black pepper, in the soup that do the magic.

When you drink the soup, it soothes your throat and the steam that contains the volatile active agents in those ingredients enters your respiratory tract and loosens the mucus. Soup can also help to keep you hydrated.

10. Fresh Grape Juice

A delicious way to treat deep chesty cough is with fresh red grape juice mixed with one teaspoon of honey. Chest congestion caused by a build-up of mucus, microbes and their debris should not be suppressed. Instead, you should use a mucolytic expectorant, such as grape juice, that will unblock the phlegm and help you to cough it up more easily. To experience the full benefits of this remedy, consume it fresh.

11. Licorice

Dried licorice is a traditional cough remedy in some parts of Europe and Asia. Licorice is the root of a leguminous plant called Glycyrrhiza glabra, native to those countries. The remedy is popular in the form of sticks and candies, although many of today’s candies are just sugar and no licorice.

Licorice can be used to treat hoarseness caused by laryngitis as well as to treat sore throats, cough, bronchitis and other inflammatory conditions of the respiratory tract.

For licorice herbal tea, in two cups of water, add a teaspoon of licorice powder and boil. It is naturally sweet. You can add it to black pepper or herbal teas to sweeten them.

12. Mullein Tea

The leaves of the mullein Verbascus thapsus were traditionally used in Europe to fight stubborn coughs and lower respiratory diseases, especially before DTaP vaccine and antibiotics. Often, the leaves were rolled into a cigar and smoked.

Mullein’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects are excellent. There are saponins in the leaves and flowers and they act like natural detergents. These unblock the phlegm in the airway. Mullein can be used in the long term and does not have any undesirable side effects nor is toxic. It can treat nagging coughs and other chronic lung infections.

In one and a half cup of boiling water, add one to two teaspoons of dried mullein leaves or flowers and leave them in for fifteen to twenty minutes. You can drink a maximum of three cups daily. You can also gargle with it.

13. Homemade Cough Syrup

Commercial cough syrups contain many synthetic chemicals which can make you drowsy and have other side effects. Natural cough syrups are way better and you know exactly what goes into your homemade version.

With thyme and peppermint for decongestion and licorice and mullein for anti-inflammation, you cannot go wrong. In a cup of boiling water, add two teaspoons of each herb and leave it for half an hour. Strain the infusion and, when cold, add half a cup of honey and mix. Refrigerate the mixture. Drink one teaspoon when required.

14. Black Seed Oil

Black seed, also known as black cumin or black caraway, is the seed of Nigella sativa. For coughs, you can crush the seeds and mix them with honey. However, black seed oil is even more effective. It can relieve all kinds of coughs, regardless of whether they were caused by cold, flu, airborne allergens, tonsillitis, laryngitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis or asthma.

Mix half a teaspoon of cold pressed black seed oil with half a teaspoon of honey and consume the mixture twice daily.

15. Echinacea Tea/Tincture

Echinacea, or purple coneflower, is a North American wildflower that is used for cough and cold. In addition to relieving a cough, it also attacks the underlying cause. However, it takes some time to act.

This remedy combats the infection before it becomes a full-fledged one, by promoting white blood cell activity and stimulating your immune system. Moreover, it has been observed that for chronic coughs that don’t yield to quick fixes, regular use of echinacea has worked great.

To make echinacea tea, in boiling water, add fresh or dried flower heads and leave it in for twenty minutes. To make echinacea tincture, in alcohol, infuse the herb. You can also use the tincture as a supplement in your regular or herbal tea for boosting your immune system.

16. Marshmallow Tea

When infused in water, marshmallow root produces a viscous, mucilaginous liquid which soothes the mucous lining and reduces inflammation. It is very safe and effective if you have a cough along with a sore throat.

Marshmallow tea helps greatly in the case of a dry cough. It moisturizes the throat’s mucous lining and upper airways. It also stops coughing caused by tissue irritation, whether it’s from allergens or infections like tonsillitis, laryngitis or bronchitis.

In four cups of warm water, add a handful of crushed dried marshmallow roots and filter out the thick liquid. You can drink it as is or add honey or sugar to sweeten it.

17. Aloe Vera Juice

The natural gel of aloe vera has great soothing effects on an inflamed tissue, whether it’s your skin or your throat lining. Its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties soothe non-productive dry coughs caused by allergies and throat infections and fight the germs responsible. It also has an analgesic property, which is a bonus.

Cut open a section of two to four inches from a mature aloe vera leaf and extract the clear gel. You can eat it on its own, although it can be a little bitter, or you can add honey or fruit juices to sweeten it.

18. Sage Tea

Sage, also known as Salvia officinalis, is an aromatic plant used as a medicinal herb to treat coughs and cough-related respiratory diseases. It was often used by indigenous people in cough remedies. Even Discorides, a Greek physician from the first century B.C., used sage tea against coughs and hoarseness.

In four cups of boiling water, add a handful of sage leaves and leave them in for 5 to 10 minutes. Three cups of sage tea daily is fine. You can also gargle with sage tea in the case of a throat infection.

19. Environment Humidity

A humid environment apparently helps against coughing as it reduces irritation in a dry airway. In the case of a stubborn cough and chest congestion, a hot bath or shower will help as it will unblock mucus and you will more easily cough it up.

As for dry cough caused by allergies, a humidifier in your bedroom can prevent coughing fits.

20. Hydration

Being hydrated helps to get the body fluids to move more freely and also contributes to your immune function. This is even more important if your temperature is high and you have a cough and a cold.

In this case, warm water will soothe your throat. In addition to this, fruit juices, herbal teas and clear soups can help you to stay hydrated.

How do you treat cough? What are your home remedies for cough? Feel free to share with us in the comments!