1. Salt water gargle
Salt has been used as an anti-infective, anti-inflammatory agent from time immemorial; in fact, papyrus scrolls from Egypt dated 1,699 B.C contain recipes of salt treatments. Dental surgeons still recommend gargling with a salt solution after surgical procedures to prevent infections and promote faster healing. When you gargle with a salt solution, a temporary increase in pH makes it difficult for the bacteria to survive.
To make a disinfectant solution that soothes an inflamed throat and relieves a cough, just dissolve a half teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. The idea is to get an isotonic solution––similar to tissue fluids in salt concentration––so that it doesn’t irritate the mucous lining of the oral cavity. Salt water gargle instantly relieves throat pain whether it’s due to strep throat, tonsillitis or common cold and allergies.
The anti-inflammatory effect of a salt gargle often lasts several hours, but the longer you have the solution in contact with the throat tissues, the better it is. So throw your head back and give it a good shot, repeating the procedure several times a day.
2. Steam inhalation
Inhaling steam is a simple, yet effective way to treat both a dry cough due to allergies and wet cough associated with bronchitis and other respiratory infections. Inhaling the warm vapors moisturizes the dry, irritated airways and helps relieve inflammation. It also lightens the phlegm accumulated in the respiratory tract, making it easier to cough up. Inhaling steam before bed clears up nasal and chest congestion and provides for a goodnight’s sleep, without bouts of coughing disrupting your sleep as well as everyone else’s.
A few drops of 100% pure eucalyptus essential oil is sometimes added to the boiling water for extra effect. Water brought to a rolling boil can provide enough steam for the next 10-15 minutes. Cover your head with a towel and inhale the vapors from a safe distance to avoid burns. What you need is the water vapor rather than the heat. Be especially careful with kids.
3. Fresh ginger
The strong anti-inflammatory action of ginger helps relieve a sore throat and airway inflammation whether it’s from allergens or infections. You can extract ginger juice from a fresh rhizome and mix it with equal amount of honey to make a cough syrup. Take just a few drops at a time to soothe the throat and suppress a cough.
Making ginger tea is another option. Crush a few slices of fresh ginger and boil it in water two to three minutes. Sipping this tea warm can stop coughing bouts. Make several cups of ginger tea and store it in the refrigerator. Warm up a cup and drink whenever you need it.
4. Lemon and honey
If night time coughing fits are killing your sleep and disturbing others, let lemon juice, and honey come to your rescue. This light drink can be taken just before bedtime to soothe your throat and keep the respiratory tract well hydrated throughout the night.
Mix in the juice of a small lemon and two tablespoons of honey in warm water and drink it. It helps lighten the mucus and makes it easy to bring it up. Make several cups of this drink and use it as and when you need it. Here are another 11 reasons why you should drink a glass of lemon and honey water every day.
5. Dry ginger and pepper
Dry ginger and black pepper powdered together is a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for a cough. It’s a handy mixture to carry about for instant relief. It has to be mentioned here that dry ginger is nothing but the ginger root dried after light steaming, but it differs from the fresh herb not only in taste and flavor but in therapeutic function as well.
You need only a tiny pinch of the mixture on your tongue, but it is extremely spicy and pungent. Rock sugar is often powdered along with the spices to make it easy on the palate, or you can mix a pinch of ½ tsp pure honey and lick it off the spoon.
6. Turmeric milk
Traditional Chinese and Indian Medicine has long been using turmeric in various herbal preparations to treat respiratory, digestive, and skin ailments. Not surprisingly, it is now recognized as having excellent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The part used is the yellow-colored rhizome of Curcuma longa, a low-growing tropical herb related to ginger. The main active agent in turmeric has been identified as curcumin, which gives the spice its golden yellow color.
Since turmeric can fight both bacteria and viruses, besides relieving inflammation, it is very effective in treating coughs due to a throat and respiratory tract infection. To make turmeric milk mix one to two teaspoons of turmeric powder in a cup of hot milk and drink it twice a day. Traditionally, goat’s milk is recommended as cow’s milk is thought to increase phlegm. Alternatively, you can boil turmeric in water and add a tsp butter or coconut oil since fat enhances the bioavailability of curcumin.
7. Raw garlic
Eating raw garlic cloves is the simplest way to get rid of a cough, be it due to throat irritation or respiratory infections. It has a long history of being used to treat respiratory diseases from pneumonia to whooping cough. The bioactive chemicals in this pungent bulb have wide-ranging antibacterial activity against pathogenic bacteria, both gram-positive and gram-negative ones. Sulfur compounds like alliin and allicin and their derivatives are responsible for this effect.
Keeping a clove of garlic in the mouth and crushing it occasionally to release a little bit of juice can help control coughing bouts. Crushed garlic added to food may help prevent secondary infections that usually follow a common cold and respiratory allergies.
8. Onion juice
Onion is a milder alternative to garlic, but it contains many organosulfur compounds and flavonoid polyphenols that give it excellent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Onion juice is particularly useful in treating bronchitis and helps ease a productive cough by lightening the mucus. It can also inhibit bacterial growth in the throat, easing painful coughing.
Grate a red onion and squeeze out the juice. Take one-half teaspoon at a time, ingesting it slowly in case of throat infection. You can mix it with honey or rock sugar for taste, but unsweetened juice is just about palatable if you want to avoid sweeteners.
9. Hot soup
Hot broth and soups are soothing for the throat and particularly useful in relieving a cough that accompanies cold and flu. Chicken soup is the most popular, but studies show that it’s the spicy ingredients in the soup such as onion, garlic, ginger, and black pepper that do the trick, so any soup containing these should work.
As you sip the hot soup, the steam containing the volatile active agents in these herbs enters your airways and loosens the mucus, while the warm liquid soothes your throat. Drinking lots of broth and soup also helps increase your hydration levels.
10. Fresh grape juice
Fresh juice from red grapes sweetened with a teaspoon of honey is a delicious way to treat a deep chesty cough. When there’s chest congestion due to an accumulation of mucus thickened with microbes and their debris, it’s never wise to suppress it. Grape juice acts as a mucolytic expectorant, helping lighten the phlegm and making it easier to cough up. Make the juice fresh every time to take maximum advantage of the antioxidant phytochemicals in grapes.