Chemicals Can Harm the Body – Try Homemade Cough Remedies

This time of year colds and coughs are everywhere. There are many over the counter pills and syrups designed to help lessen some of the symptoms of a cold, however I’ve found that a natural, holistic approach can often produce better results than simply drinking a couple tablespoons of high fructose corn syrup and Acetaminophen. I’ve compiled a list of healthy, safe, natural alternatives to the common cold medicine that really do work, and run pennies on the dollar compared to overpriced drugstore formulas.  My recipes will not leave you with a groggy drug hangover, and there is no danger of overdose, even for children.


Natural & Holistic Cold Remedies

1. A Spoonful of Honey

Several studies have found that a simple spoonful of honey can be extremely effective in calming an out of control cough. Honey is a rich demulcent that coats and soothes your irritated mucous membranes deadening your cough. Thanks to an enzyme that it gets from bees during harvest, Honey also has antibacterial properties that can help shorten the length of a cough if it is related to bacterial infection. As a side note you should NEVER give honey to children under the age of 2 due to the risk of botulism (read more about that here.)

2. Coconut Oil, Honey & Lemon

These three ingredients are usually pretty common in most kitchens, once combined they create a very effective, natural cough medicine. One tablespoon of each ingredient should do the trick.

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix and drink – as mentioned earlier, honey on it’s own is a great cough supressant but once you add the anti-bacterial, antiseptic power of lemon juice and the healing power of coconut oil you have a very potent, natural cough medicine.

3. Licorice Root Tea


Licorice Root Tea

Hot licorice root tea will soothe your airways and ease congestion by loosening and thinning mucous. Licorice root can act as an expectorant, which makes it useful for reducing phlegm and other upper-respiratory symptoms. Glycyrrhizin, is the element contained within licorice root that is responsible for most of its positive health effects. 30 – 50 times sweeter than regular table sugar or sucrose, glycyrrhizin helps to decrease hormonal inflammation in the body that creates coughing and irritated airways. On a related note if you have kidney problems it may be best to steer clear of licorice root. Here are the steps for the tea:

  • Pour a large mugful of boiling water over 2 oz. of dried licorice root (available at any health food store or online)
  • Steep for 10 minutes
  • Sip slowly

4. Salt Water

A popular remedy for sore throats, salt water can ease the discomfort caused by a cough the same way it helps a sore throat-through osmosis. When the concentration of salt is higher outside of the cells in your mucous membranes, water flows out of the cells to balance everything out. When water leaves the cells, swelling goes down, and discomfort is decreased. If you have a cold / cough with inflamed tissue, gargling salt water can be very helpful. It can also help to loosen phlegm and clear bacteria from the throat. All you need to do is stir a couple tablespoons of salt (preferably non iodized sea salt) into water until it is thoroughly dissolved. Gargle for 15 seconds, spit out and repeat. Rinse with plain water afterwards.

5. Brown Sugar & Ginger

Ginger and dark brown sugar (or Muscovado) drink is another great cold & cough remedy. This comes from a traditional Chinese recipe for treating colds. The drink warms you from within and can also calm an unsettled stomach. Ginger itself is widely used in Chinese remedies due to it’s warming and healing properties. The second element, dark brown sugar (in Chinese referred to as ‘red sugar’) contains many nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Several remedies utilize its benefits for health purposes. Here’s what you will need to make a brown sugar & ginger based cold remedy:

  • 2 pieces of fresh ginger root, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of water

Heat your water in a tea kettle or in the microwave, stir in the brown sugar and add the sliced ginger so that its nutrients can seep into the brew. After it has cooled sip gently.

Thyme Herbal Tea

Thyme Herbal Tea

6. Thyme Tea

Thyme has a very long history of healing and medicinal use. Dating back to 14th century Europe, people burned thyme as well as carried it around in their pockets to help ward off sickness and disease. For the purpose of healing a cold, though, thyme can relax the trachea and bronchi. It also has anti-microbial properties that can kill infectious bacteria. You can make a very effective cough suppressant tea using the following:


  • 4 – 5 fresh thyme sprigs (fresh is preferred as the volatile healing oils are still intact)
  • 8 ounces of fresh water
  • Honey or lemon (optional for flavor)

Lightly crush the thyme (e.g. with a mortar and pestle) then place in a mug. Add your heated water, cover and let steep for 10-15 minutes. Add lemon or honey to taste, and drink the whole cup.

These are only 6 examples taken from a multitude of natural, holistic ways to treat a cold. You can also be creative, mix and match ingredients and create your own remedies using the healing properties of natural items. Be well!