Natural Remedies for the Common Cough

by | Last updated Dec 12, 2023 | Flu and Colds

What can one do to relieve coughing caused by the common cold or influenza? Effective remedies might just be in your kitchen pantry or bathroom! 

Contrast Showers

Alternating hot and cold showers as tolerated;  hot water for 1 ½ minutes and cold water for 30 seconds; do three exchanges. Be sure to make the second and third exchanges hot, then hotter. Finish with cold. Hot and cold showers boost the circulating white blood cells. Perform this treatment twice a day. Rest for 15 minutes afterwards. Both the heat and cold improve the mobility and efficiency of white blood cells. Individuals who have circulatory problems, autoimmune disorders, or neuropathy should check with their physician before engaging in hydrotherapy.

Herbal Vapor Therapy

Low humidity causes dry nasal passages which are more susceptible to cold viruses. Add 2 Tbs. thyme, 1 Tbs. of rosemary, 1 Tbs. of peppermint, 1 tsp. of eucalyptus leaves to one liter of boiling water. Remove the pot from the stove. Hold your face 6-12 inches over the steaming water. Drape your head with a towel while breathing in the vapor.

Eucalyptus loosens phlegm, possesses antimicrobial properties, and is effective against several influenza viruses.1 Its cineole controls airway mucus hypersecretion and can even inhibit certain pro-inflammatory compounds in asthma. It is easily absorbed by the respiratory tract. The menthol in peppermint is a decongestant and good expectorant. Peppermint possesses significant anti-viral activity in  fighting Influenza A.2 Early studies  that inhaling steam with chamomile extract has been helpful in common cold symptoms.3

Herbs Teas that Help Coughing

Herbal Expectorants

Thyme: Because of its antitussive and expectorant effects, thyme is a natural cough medicine. It reduces spasms in the bronchial tubes and also improves the clearance of excess mucus in the respiratory tract.

Fennel reduces inflammation of the mucous membranes in the upper respiratory tract while its antheole and fenchone provide expectorant properties.

Mullein flowers contain anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties and act as an expectorant.

Herbal Cough Suppressants

For cough suppressants, use ginger or anise seed. Ginger also contains sesquiterpenes which fight rhinovirus (the most common cold virus) and other flu-fighting compounds. Anise seed: Add 1-2 teaspoons of crushed anise seed to 1 cup of boiling water, remove from heat, let steep, and strain after cooling. Take at night as this tea acts as a cough suppressant.


A little honey mix with fresh lemon often helps to subdue coughing. Garlic and onions contain anti-viral and other phytochemicals that help the body to clear out mucus. The World Health Organization recommends onions for coughs, colds, bronchitis, and bronchial spasms. Cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, and avocados are rich in the phytochemical glutathione. This compound helps to fight viruses, including the flu viruses.

When to See a Doctor

There are various conditions that can cause us to have a persistent cough. Coughs accompanied by wheezing or shortness of breath need prompt evaluation. Post-nasal drip from allergies trigger coughing. Coughing may also be an important sign for congestive heart failure. If your sputum is colored or tinged with blood or accompanied with high fever, see you doctor promptly.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is helpful and is educational. It is not the author’s or authors’ or Wildwood Health Institute’s intent to substitute the blog article for diagnosis, counseling, or treatment by a qualified health professional.

Copyright through December 2023. All rights reserved by Wildwood Sanitarium, Inc. 

Work Cited:

Craig, Winston, Ph.D., Herbs for Your Health, A Guide to the Therapeutic Use of 40 Commonly Used Herbs, Golden Harvest Books, 2005.
Dail, Clarence, MD and Thomas, Charles, Ph.D. Hydrotherapy: Simple Treatments for Common Ailments, Teach Publishers, 1995.
Duke, James A, The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook, Rodale Books, 2000.
Duke, James, Ph.D., The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods : Proven Natural Remedies to Treat and Prevent More Than 80 Common Health Concerns
Moore, Fred, M.D., et al, Manual of Hydrotherapy and Massage, Pacific Press, 1964.
White, Linda, MD and Foster, Steven, The Herbal Drugbook, Interweave press, 2000.
www.umm.edu › Medical Reference › Complementary Medicine, peppermint.
www.pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/summary/summary, cineole.


© 2024, Wildwood Sanitarium. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.


  1. Claudio Cermelli. Effect of eucalyptus essential oil on respiratory bacteria and viruses. Curr Microbiol. 2008 Jan;56(1):89-92.
  2. Rajesh Aror. Potential of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Preventive Management of Novel H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) Pandemic: Thwarting Potential Disasters in the Bud. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011: 586506.
  3. Janmeiai K. Srivastava. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Report 2010 Nov 1:3(6):895-901

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