Coughing is the body’s natural way of clearing the pathways in the throat. These are the passages where food and other substances pass. If the throat is irritated or, if there are unwanted substances entering, the body will try to eliminate them by coughing them out. Same applies with mucous. When one has a cold, mucous build up in the throat and causes irritation. The natural way to remove mucous and relieve the itchiness is to cough it out as phlegm.

Cough suppressantFirst, coughing can be voluntary. It can be done because one wants to pretend that one has a cold or one can do it to remove certain foods that have been ingested accidentally. Also, coughing can be a reflex. when the passage ways are blocked, the body will automatically try to unblock them because air and food should always have a clear passage way. It is the body’s reflex for certain situations such as when one drank too much water or if one eats a very big piece of food.

Lastly, coughing can be behavioural. Different people have different habits and different adaptations to certain situations. Coughing can be a mannerism especially when a person is subjected to extreme pressure. Just like other people who fidget when they are nervous/ some may try relieve the nervousness through coughing.


A chronic cough is not actually a disease in itself. However, a cough that lasts for weeks on end is definitely physically tiring, annoying and embarrassing to say the least’ A cough can be dry or productive, coughing with the presence of mucous. Usually, the first thing a person considers is to take over the counter cough suppressants or expectorants. An expectorant is meant to cure a productive cough. It helps thin respiratory secretions. This will make it easier for the patient to cough up the phlegm. On the other hand, a cough suppressant aims to lessen the urge to cough. This medication does not really work if there is mucous present. But try to remember that coughing can sometimes be healthy, since it is the body’s natural defense mechanism in clearing the airways and lungs of irritants. So it is not really advisable to take a suppressant if one just experience occasional coughing or an itchy throat. Some natural suppressants include:

  • Sage: This is a great natural expectorant which one can take in the form of tea. One can easily make one’s own homemade sage tea by grounding up sage leaves and mix 2 teaspoonfuls of the ground leaves with hot water or mix 1 tsp of dried sage with 1 cup of hot water. Sweeten it with 1 teaspoon of natural honey if one wishes. For a more exotic taste, one might want to add a dash of thyme which is also considered an excellent cough expectorant. Extreme doses of medicinal sage are not recommended for pregnant or nursing women.
  • Licorice can act as a natural expectorant as well as a cough suppressant. It has a great ability to soothe an irritated throat. One can take it as tea or purchase licorice lozenges which are readily available in your local drugstore. Licorice should not be taken if you are suffering from high blood pressure.
  • Cough suppressantEucalyptus is an excellent expectorant and decongestant. For a chronic cough, a eucalyptus chest rub has been proven to be more effective. If the cough persists, make use of eucalyptus steam inhalation. Mix 10 drops of eucalyptus oil along with 4 drops of hyssop oil, another potent herbal expectorant, into a pot of boiling water and inhale the steam.
  • Horehound is yet another effective herbal expectorant which can also act as a cough suppressant. Studies show that this herb helps in stimulating bronchial secretions. Horehound is quite bitter, so you might want to take sweetened lozenges or purchase pure horehound herb in tablet form.
  • Garlic, the popular cure-all herb, is another potent cough expectorant. One can eat it raw, one clove three times a day or use it as a steam inhalant or chest rub. One might also want to prepare homemade garlic syrup by grating a whole clove of garlic, excrete its juice and mix it with 1 teaspoonful of honey.
  • Elecampane root has been used for ages as a cough remedy. lnulin, a compound found in elecampane root, helps in breaking up congestion. One can find this herb in natural health stores in tea or tincture form.
  • Coltsfoot is another popular cough suppressant. Tussilago is coltsfoot’s botanical name which means “cough dispeller.” Coltsfoot leaves and flowers have cough suppressant properties. Traditionally it has been used in treating asthma, excess mucous buildup, dry cough and bronchitis. One can take this herb in tea or tincture form. However, it is recommended to use coltsfoot for only a short term.
  • Echinacea is a Native American herb that has several medicinal benefits and it has been popular for thousands of years in preventing infections and treating wounds. At the present time, Echinacea is popular for its ability to reduce symptoms of the flu, including sore throat, fever and cough. Several herbalists claim that this herb is great in helping boost the immune system and it helps the body fight infections.
  • Essential oils can get into the mucus membrane of the lungs and therefore it is possible to obtain relief from coughs by inhaling essential oils. There are quite a few essential oils that can be used to treat a cough, e.g. black pepper, cedarwood, cypress, eucalyptus, geranium, juniper, lavender, lemon, marjoram, peppermint, pine or sweet thyme. put two or three drops of the oil into hot water and breathe slowly. Continue until the water has cooled down.
  • Saffron is a well-known spice that is obtained from the flowers of a plant known as Crocus sativus. The plant is commonly known as saffron crocus. Saffron is obtained from the dried stigmas of the flowers of the plant. It is used in many cuisines across the globe for its seasoning, coloring properties and prescribed for treating cough, insomnia, heartburn, dryness of skin, mood disorders and depression. It is believed to h ave invigorating and rejuvenating properties.

Unlike over the counter medications, herbal remedies for treating chronic cough have very few known side effects, sometimes, none at all. Besides, these herbs are all natural and have been proven time and again to be potent cough expectorants and/or suppressants.


Cough suppressantThe most used natural cough suppressant is honey. Although it is not essential to suppress cough but at times one will need some relief. But if one is using honey, it can be as good as these prescription medicines or even better. The first benefit of the honey is that its thick and sweet texture will remove any form of irritation which is causing the cough reflex. The difference between the honey and the other medicines which give instant relief is that when the throat and various other airways are soothed and relaxed. Honey also has an antibacterial agent working in it since honey has been used to treat insect bites and various other wounds. When bees make the honey, they also input a chemical substance which is hydrogen peroxide which is the real agent fighting the bacteria. The next important thing about honey and its healing powers is the ant oxides which it contains are also very important in treating a cough.


Generally, cough falls under two categories; productive or non-productive commonly described as dry or chesty respectively. Identifying which type of cough the child have, is important in deciding whether the cough should stop or not. This directly impacts on the type of medication the child will need.

Non-Productive – (Dry Coughs)

As its name implies, a dry cough produces no sputum. It is often described as “irritating” or, as mentioned earlier, “dry”. In most cases, the cause of this type of cough is not due to an infection, although this must be considered along with other symptoms. In some cases, the patient may claim that the cough is dry but that they can feel phlegm on their chest. If this is the case, then it is best to regard this as a chesty (productive) cough.

Generally dry coughs are irritating to the child and those who surround them. Its causes can be due to many reasons such as change in temperature, a dry atmosphere, air pollution and passive smoking. In some cases it can be due to drug reactions but this is more applicable in adults. Sometimes a dry cough can be attributed to asthma especially if it is troublesome at night time but this is not always the case. Local pharmacist will be able to advice as to what medicines would be appropriate if any. Also, they may decide that the child would need to see a doctor. They will ask few questions to determine the outcome. Generally, if there is no cause for concern, the pharmacist may prescribe a cough suppressant or a linctus. Always ask which is suitable as many of them have more than one combination, such as the addition of an antihistamine, which not only helps in suppressing the cough but can also sedate the child allowing them a good night sleep. Cough medicines with antihistamines may also be useful if there are any associated nasal secretions, since this will dry it up and prevent it from causing post nasal drip (mucus dripping from the back of the nose into the throat)which in itself can initiate a cough.

Productive – (Chesty Coughs)

Cough suppressantChesty coughs in general produce sputum or phlegm. By identifying the colour of this phlegm the pharmacist may be able to decide whether a referral is necessary or not. Unless produced in copious amounts, clear or white sputum can be considered generally as being of little significance. Due to the presence of phlegm, medicinal treatment is different to that of dry coughs. If a cough suppressant were to be given in this case, then phlegm would not shift. In this case, it is desirable for the cough to continue to allow the child to remove the phlegm’ When the child coughs up the phlegm it is removed from the airways and is swallowed down into the stomach via the food Pipe.

Again, local pharmacist is conveniently accessible without an appointment to advice on any treatment, referral or just advice. Sometimes the child may need antibiotics if it is due to an infection, but this is not always the case. Unfortunately, many believe that antibiotics is the solution for most of the children’s illnesses. This is not the case and can in-fact be harmful to the wider community. When antibiotics are used unnecessarily or not correctly, the bacteria can build up an immunity against the antibiotic. This is beginning to cause problems in that bacteria are becoming stronger. If there are no causes for concern then an expectorant may be of some use. These apparently help by breaking up the bonds in the phlegm thus easing its expulsion by the cough reflex. As is the case with many cough remedies, there are many combinations. Some expectorants again contain antihistamines. This may at first seem desirable since it will help the child to sleep, but the antihistamine may have some cough suppressive activity which may contribute in keeping some of the phlegm down. Also it can dry up the phlegm a little making it more difficult to cough up. Give them plenty of fluids to drink and the use of something like Karvol may be useful.

It is important to identify the type of cough a child has. Always ask pharmacist for advice before purchasing anything since in some cases, referral may be required.


For coughs that are caused by illnesses that irritate the throat, there are certain remedies that can be used. prescription medicines will immediately help in relieving the itchiness of the throat. However, one should consult a doctor first because there are too many cough medicines in the market and some of them may not be suitable for one’s condition. There are also some home remedies one can try such as honey. Honey is a natural sugar and mixing it with hot water will soothe the irritation. It is known to be a very good cough suppressant. Coughing is not a problem in itself because it helps the body remove harmful materials off the trachea. However, it can be a symptom of a more serious, condition, so it should not be ignored.