UK’s Royal College of General Practitioners’ vice chair, Dr. Tim Ballard, has warned that cough medicines are a waste of money. “The medical evidence behind cough medicines is weak,” he stated. “And there is no evidence to say that they will reduce the duration of illnesses – as such, GPs are unlikely to prescribe them.” He goes on to say that traditional homemade remedies with lemon and honey is a better approach. Cough medicines are part of an over-the-counter drug industry worth £3 billion (equivalent to US$4.8 billion) a year.
“Coughing actually has an important purpose,” explains Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University. “It’s your body’s way of keeping unwanted stuff from getting into your lungs. But unfortunately, post-virus, this irritating symptom can really linger.”
Instead of suppressing the cough, try supporting the respiratory system and immune system with these natural approaches:
1) Lemon and Manuka honey- but don’t give honey to babies under the age of 1 as there is a risk of infant botulism.
2) N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)- This nutraceutical breaks the bonds in mucus, making it easier for your body to cough the mucus up. It also offers protection to cells as it supports the body’s antioxidant systems during infections and inflammatory conditions by raising the levels of glutathione, a potent antioxidant.
3) Elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra)- A popular medicinal herb commonly found in the form of a syrup, elderberry is rich in antioxidants and enhances immune function. Studies show people taking elderberry recover from the flu faster than those who don’t. It is deemed a safe and effective treatment for the cold and flu.
4) Essential oils in the form of inhalation and vapour rubs can help combat and soothe a cough. Thieves, lemon, peppermint and eucalyptus are popular ones. Make sure the essential oils are 100% pure.
5) Luo Han Guo (Siraitia grosvenorii, 羅漢果)- Traditionally used in Chinese medicine for diabetes and obesity, Luo Han Guo is cooling in nature and is commonly used to treat dry (heaty) coughs, sore throats and tonsillitis.
See a licensed naturopathic doctor for a tailored treatment plan. If the cough persists for more than 3 weeks, is affecting young children or results in shortness of breath/ high fever/ coughing up blood, see your healthcare practitioner. Also, for coughs with an underlying cause, specific treatment should be given.