There’s nothing like a cough to disturb an entire family’s peaceful sleep. It not only wakes up the one coughing, if it’s loud or long enough it will awaken everyone. Here are some herbs that can help stop the cough so you can all sleep.
Mint: I keep a packet of mints around at all times. They have many uses and one is for coughing. The one thing to watch for is inhaling the mint during a coughing fit. If you need to inhale deeply, hold off on the mint until the spasm passes.
Licorice: This is often used both as a sweetener in teas and as a specific for coughing. It coats the throat which can soothe the irritation. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, do not use this remedy. It can interfere with and raise both blood pressure and blood sugar.
Cherry Bark: The cyanide aspect of cherry bark, when used in very small amounts, can stop the cough reflex. Due to the potential for poisoning, please only use products containing the bark and be sure to follow dosing instructions.
Mallow Root: The roots of the marsh mallow perform a similar function as licorice but without the dangerous side effects. As an aside, marshmallows found at the supermarket do not contain any mallow root. They are all sugar.
Horehound: If it didn’t work so well very few would ever put it in their mouth. As a cough remedy it is often mixed with other, stronger flavored herbs to mask the taste. I’m one of the very few that will eat it, but it’s because it reminds me of my grandfather…not its stunning taste.
Eucalyptus: The chemicals in this tree can open up breathing passages and help stop a cough. This is not something that children under six can have safely, even in a cough drop. It can cause serious breathing difficulties.
Onions: This is a topical application that comes out of the Appalachians. I’m not sure whether it’s the onions or the heat that helps. I have only heard of it being done and have not seen it in practice or studied to see if it works. The idea is to slice the onions, heat them in a skillet and place them on the chest. Care has to be taken to avoid burning the skin.
Rubs: For adults, rubs are very helpful. For children a lot of care needs to be taken when choosing the rub. Peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil are dangerous for children under two. It should never be applied to the skin or given internally…even in a cough drop.
It is a good idea to check with your doctor or pediatrician before trying any home remedies for a cough. The reason for the cough will help decide what treatment is best. If there are other medical conditions or the patient is on medications, check to be sure there are no drug/herb interactions.