Man coughing in his elbow

A persistent cough is as annoying as it is uncomfortable. Some side effects of a bad cough include sore throat and aching chest or ribs. If you have asthma, a persistent cough can also make these symptoms worse. If you don’t want to use over the counter cough medicines with unpleasant side effects, then there are a few natural remedies you can try. Some depend on the type of cough that you have, while others will work for both wet and dry coughs.

1. Steam

If you have a wet cough, which is one that produces mucous, then steam may be a good remedy. There are a few different ways that you can try this. Taking a hot shower or bath will fill the bathroom with steam. Stay in the bathroom for several minutes after your shower or bath to take advantage. Make sure to drink a big glass of cool water after to stay hydrated. Another method is to fill a bowl with hot water and add either aromatic herbs or essential oils. Rosemary, tea tree, and eucalyptus are good examples to try. Lean over the bowl with a towel over your head and the bowl. This traps the steam and allows you to inhale the vapors. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes. You may also want to try using a cool-mist humidifier in your home as this can mitigate dry air and loosen congestion.

2. Marshmallow Root

This herb is high in mucilage, which is a thick substance that helps coat the throat and soothe irritation. Sometimes dry coughs are caused by a tickle in the throat that is actually throat irritation. Marshmallow root can be taken in a variety of ways. You can either get an herbal cough syrup that contains it, or you can brew marshmallow root tea with dry herbs or tea bags. The longer you steep the tea, the more mucilage content you will get. You can drink the tea either hot or cold. Marshmallow root can cause nausea in some cases, but if you drink extra water while taking it, you may be able to avoid this.

3. Natural Cough Syrup with Honey

Honey is an excellent antibacterial agent with soothing properties for your throat. As such, many natural cough syrups include honey as one of the main ingredients. Natural cough syrup with honey has antiviral powers. A natural cough syrup should not include any chemicals or pharmaceuticals and won’t make you sleepy like over the counter syrups can. This remedy can help with both dry and wet coughs. Honey has a number of other health benefits as well, including helping upset stomach, regulating blood sugar and fighting infection. The only caveat with raw honey is that it should not be given to very young children or babies.

4. Bromelain

This is an enzyme that is prevalent in pineapples and especially deep at the core of the fruit. It is known for being an anti-inflammatory agent, and studies show that it may help break down thick mucous. In order to take advantage of this enzyme, you can either eat pineapple or drink pineapple juice. However, the enzymes might not be enough just in eating or drinking it. You can also take bromelain supplements, which gives you a more effective dose of the enzyme. Bromelain can also help digestion and congestion. If you’re taking blood thinners or antibiotics, you may want to ask your doctor about side effects.

5. Turmeric

You may be familiar with turmeric as a brilliant yellow powder that is used extensively to flavor Indian curries. However, turmeric has a number of health benefits through its anti-inflammatory properties. The compound in turmeric that does the most work is called curcumin. This compound has antibacterial and antiviral properties as well. Some studies show that turmeric is effective in relieving respiratory and asthma symptoms. Turmeric tea is usually easy to find in health food stores and may be combined with ginger, which is another root that can help with coughing and respiratory problems. Turmeric tea usually does not cause any side effects.

Find natural relief from your annoying cough with this list of remedies. You can easily combine multiple remedies as well.