3 homemade cough remedies
When you feel a sore throat coming on, raid your pantry instead of your medicine cabinet to prepare affordable all-natural cough remedies that really work
Ditch the chemical syrups
Chemical-laden cold and flu syrups leave much to be desired. In fact, according to Leslie Solomonian, naturopathic doctor and assistant professor at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, studies have demonstrated that over-the-counter cough and cold remedies for kids are actually potentially harmful and no better in addressing symptoms than homemade syrups prepared with honey. Here's how you can whip up your own all-natural cough and cold-fighting mixtures.
1. Honey, onion and garlic syrup
Combine a half-cup of honey and a half-cup of water. Add in one whole chopped onion and one chopped clove of garlic. Add a dash of sage, thyme or oregano and allow to steep overnight at room temperature. Strain and use the liquid as a cough syrup. Store in your refrigerator.
Why it works:
Honey, onion and garlic are all naturally antimicrobial, says Dr. Solomonian. "Honey also acts as a demulcent, meaning it relaxes the cough reflex and soothes the throat." Not cooking the mixture helps preserve the full antimicrobial properties of the onions and garlic, which lose some of their potency when heated. Finally, herbs like sage, thyme or oregano add even more antimicrobial benefits.
If you can't wait overnight for your syrup to steep, simmer the mixture for five to 10 minutes until the onions soften. Although you'll lose some antimicrobial properties, you will get some relief before heading to bed.
2. Castor oil chest rub
Start with a half a cup of good quality, cold pressed castor oil. Crush one or two cloves of garlic and stir them into the oil. Add a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger, three or four drops of eucalyptus oil and about half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Rub on chest.
Why it works:
Castor oil is well absorbed by the body and helps to increase circulation, which stimulates our immune response. The ginger and cayenne pepper also help warm the body, stimulate circulation and dilute mucus. The garlic and eucalyptus oil are added for their antimicrobial properties.
"This is a very messy paste," warns Dr. Solomonian. She recommends putting on an old T-shirt directly over the chest rub and wearing your pajamas over that. The extra layer will help trap added warmth.
3. Horseradish syrup
Add a dash of grated horseradish to a quarter cup of honey. Allow it to sit for a few hours then use as a cough syrup.
Why it works:
"Horseradish promotes perspiration, making it useful in the treatment of fever," says Dr. Jean-Jacques Dugoua, naturopathic doctor and director of clinical pharmacology for Newtopia. "When mixed with honey, it can be an effective remedy for hoarseness and cough from colds and flu." Horseradish also stimulates appetite and promotes digestion. However, just a small amount does the trick. Eating large amounts may cause stomach upset.
Although you may be tempted to add essential oils to a homemade cough syrup, it's best to stick with whole foods as ingredients. Essential oils are very concentrated and can be very hard on the liver if ingested. Instead, reap the antimicrobial benefits of essential oils by adding them to a steam inhalation. Simply boil water, add in a few drops of the essential oil of your choice, place a towel over your head and breathe deeply. This will help dilute mucus and clear the nasal passages.