Cough and sore throat are some of the more common illnesses we experience throughout our lives, especially during flu season. They are normally nothing to worry about and can often be treated at home. However, the recent pandemic has spiked up concerns and with people needing to isolate, more have turned to natural cures to deal with the symptoms. So what exactly are some home remedies you can try to cure cough and sore throat?
Ginger helps treat cough and sore throat by relieving pain through its anti-inflammatory effects. Gingerols and shogaols, the compounds that make ginger pungent, are mainly responsible for this along with other medicinal properties. A 2011 study even found that ginger extract had superior antibacterial effects compared to antibiotics against two pathogenic bacteria that cause strep throat.
Ginger can be taken in a number of ways. Simply chewing on a piece of fresh ginger root is highly effective though the pungency may be too much for most people. A less intense alternative would be in the form of lozenges you can suck on. However, the most common way is to make warm ginger tea.
Ginger Tea Recipe
1. Boil peeled ginger root or grate an inch of ginger into 2 cups of hot water.
2. Let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Strain the liquid to remove the ginger pieces.
4. Add lemon juice and honey to taste.
Thyme helps ease coughs and colds through decongestion. It thins out the mucus and also reduces inflammation and relaxes the muscles in the throat. In fact, a review on herbal medicine for cough has shown that a preparation of thyme, ivy, and primrose helped alleviate cough symptoms in patients in terms of frequency and severity.
Thyme Tea Recipe
1. Place 1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves in an infuser or mash 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves.
2. Add hot water and steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Remove the leaves and add lemon juice and honey to taste.
Black currant alleviates flu symptoms by boosting the immune system. It contains many vitamins and even carries four times the amount of Vitamin C compared to oranges. In addition, it has several beneficial properties like being antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antitoxic, and is high in antioxidants.
Freshly pressed juice from the berries would be most effective, but they are usually hard to come by during flu season. You can instead take it as tea by dissolving a large tablespoon of black currant jelly or jam into half a pint of boiling water.
The pungency of onions helps with decongestion by thinning down mucus. In a 2004 study published in the Journal of Food Chemistry, it was found that stronger-flavored onions like Western Yellow, New York Bold, and Northern Red have higher antioxidant activities compared to milder onions. This is due to a higher concentration of flavonoids, a component that has health properties like being anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, and anti-carcinogenic.
Onion Juice Recipe
1. Chop 3 to 4 medium-sized onions and add to a blender or juicer.
2. Strain the juice.
Alternative: Combine the juice of one lemon and one onion with a cup of boiling water. This can be drunk or used as a gargle.
Onion Syrup Recipe
1. Slice one big onion and add to a bowl.
2. Coat with 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw honey or 3 heaping tablespoons of white granulated sugar.
3. Cover and marinate overnight at room temperature.
4. You can give 1 teaspoon every couple of hours to younger children or 1 tablespoon for older children and adults.
Caution: Never give raw honey to children aged 1 and below.
Salt Water Gargle
The American Cancer Society, Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, and the Mayo Clinic all recommend a salt water gargle to ease sore throats. It may not be an instant cure, but it does speed up the process by keeping the mouth clean and preventing further infection. The solution can kill some bacteria, but more importantly, gargling salt water draws the bacteria to the surface which you can then rid your body of when you spit it out.
How to Use
1. Dissolve ¼ to ½ teaspoon of table salt to 8 ounces of warm water.
2. Gargle in the back of your throat for as long as you can.
3. Swish around the teeth and mouth.
4. Spit out.
Caution: This practice is not advised for children aged 6 and below or other people who have difficulty gargling.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of home remedies available to alleviate cough and sore throat. Some of which require ingredients you can easily find at home. However, if symptoms persist more than a week, it would be best to consult a doctor.
Can’t afford a trip to the doctor? Learn all about natural remedies using things you can find at home.
Grab your own copy of The Home Doctor: Practical Medicine for Every Household written by Dr. Maybell Nieves, Dr. Rodrigo Alterio & Claude Davis.