Natural Ways to Suppress a Cough

Before you reach for the cough syrup, try one of these home remedies.

Got a nagging cough? Before you reach for the cough syrup, try one of these natural remedies.

1. Pick some thyme. Thyme is an officially approved German treatment for coughs, upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, and whooping cough, with good reason. Those tiny leaves are packed with cough-relieving compounds. For starters, thyme flavonoids relax tracheal and ileal muscles, which are involved in coughing. The flavonoids also reduce inflammation. To make a tea, mix 2 teaspoons crushed leaves in 1 cup boiling water, cover, then steep for 10 minutes and strain.

2. Fight back with flax, honey, and lemon. Boiling flaxseeds in water gives you a thick, gooey gel that soothes the throat and the bronchial tract. Honey and lemon act as mild antibiotics and make this syrup super-soothing. To make it, boil 2 to 3 tablespoons of flaxseeds in 1 cup of water until the water becomes thick. Strain, then add 3 tablespoons each of honey and lemon juice. Take 1 tablespoon as needed.

3. Brew black pepper tea. This remedy is rooted in two very different traditions: New England folk medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. The rationale behind it is that black pepper stimulates circulation and mucus flow; honey is a natural cough reliever and mild antibiotic. To make the tea, place 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of honey in a cup. Fill with boiling water and let steep, covered, for 15 minutes. Strain and sip as needed. This remedy works best on coughs that produce mucus and isn’t suitable for dry coughs.

4. A sour approach. This isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is a commonly used folk cure: Quarter a fresh lemon, sprinkle it with lots of black pepper and salt, and suck on it for quick relief.

5. Try some warm milk. Another popular folk cure for a cough is to drink a cup of hot milk sweetened with honey.

6. Consider almonds. Some ancient traditions believe almonds help relieve bronchial problems, including coughs. They recommend blending a few teaspoons of finely ground almonds with a cup of orange juice and sipping it for relief.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest