It seems that every second person at the moment is battling some sort of cough. Whether its that annoying tickle or something a little chunkier, they are equally uncomfortable and debilitating. But first, let’s set one thing straight….. Coughs can be a sign of some more sinister things, or they can be merely a post viral hangover from your head cold. No matter the case, any lingering cough, or a cough that is producing blood stained sputum or is accompanied with night sweats and shivers needs medical assessment. Cases of Pneumonia, whooping cough and bronchitis are incredibly prevalent and need medical attention. Cough can also indicate oesophageal, gastric and digestive condition and can also be a common side effect of many medications, check with your Dr. Stress too, can produce a dry, tickly, nervous cough.
That aside, some coughs sit in the ‘annoying but not sinister’ basket and are really just hanging around to bug you and keep you awake. When there is absence of any other underlying cause, there are some great natural treatments that can reduce the severity and duration of your cough as well as supporting and rebooting your immune system that has taken a hammering.
Most coughs are viral, thus, antibiotics are not indicated, nor effective. Antibiotics will only be effective if there is a secondary bacterial component or indeed you have any of the above red flag symptoms, but always talk to your Dr to see whether they are indicated or appropriate.
In that case, if you have the medical all clear, we can open the door to some herbs and vitamins. This is their bread and butter and can offer relief when nothing else can help. Of course, rest, water, simple foods and warm teas and soups are fantastic for immune recovery, but herbs are the granddaddy of immune support. Nature’s pantry!
Try to refrain from ‘self prescribing’ herbs and always get individual naturopathic advice before taking any herbs, as some herbs used for coughs are contraindicated in high blood pressure and heart conditions. Just because they come out of the ground, doesn’t mean they can’t do harm when used incorrectly. There are some great anti-viral herbs and cough expectorants that work a treat. You may also be lacking in some simple vitamins and need a boost of vitamin C, cod liver oil is a fantastic immune remedy due to its Vitamin A and D content, B vitamins and zinc. General immune support in the way of probiotics are also a good adjunct for lingering cough.
Cough can also give you some other unwanted effects such as headache, flare up haemorrhoids, crack ribs and increase muscular tension.
If you are suffering from an annoying cough, there is relief out there. Simple honey and lemon in water, beef up your dinners with lashings of garlic, ginger and chilli, sip on water throughout the day, avoid really cold drinks, herbal teas can really help, avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates and stick to nourishing, whole foods. Whip yourself up a batch of home made soup using bones and home made stock, go to bed before 9pm every night for a week, lay off intense exercise and convalesce. A tsp of good quality, raw honey can soothe that tickle before bed too. Oh, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!