Eight Simple Home Remedies for Cough and Sore Throat
Growing up in the country, we didn’t go to the doctor when we had sniffles, dry cough or sore throat. Mother’s cupboard was stocked with medicinal herbs and teas, and Mom always had a tried-and-true home remedy for cough, cold and sore throat. Here are eight easy ways to treat cough and sore throat at home.
Through the ages, these eight home treatments have stood the test of time. These natural remedies can help treat:
- dry cough
- tickle in the throat
- sore throat
- throat tension
- cold symptoms such as sniffles and stuffiness
- nervousness or anxiety
1. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is a staple on the home medicine shelf, although its mild, pleasant flavor and gentle sedative effects can help you relax anytime. Chamomile offers such a wide range of benefits, some call it the Wonder Herb. Chamomile helps cure stomach upset, menstrual cramps, insomnia, acne and other skin ailments, and relieves nervousness and anxiety.
Chamomile has a soothing effect on the throat, and helps calm a persistent cough. See also: Chamomile Health Benefits.
2. Gargle with Salt Water
To relieve a sore throat, gargle with warm water and salt. Use about 1 tsp salt to one cup warm water (adjust proportions as desired). A salt-water gargle is one of the most effective home treatments of sore throat. Salt also kills harmful bacteria in the mouth.
3. Warm Milk and Honey
Honey is an ancient remedy for illness, low vitality and even sexual potency. For cough and cold, honey soothes and coats the throat, and the relaxant properties of milk can warm the body and release tension from the mind.
Milk aids in respiratory ailments and in treatment of hypertension, and helps reduce stomach acidity. Honey has been used by humankind for over 2,500 years to boost the immune system, for youth and vitality, and for its antioxidant and antiseptic benefits. Honey can even aid in weight loss, because it helps the body digest stored fat.
Ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and Egyptians knew the benefits of milk and honey, and drank it to cure constipation, flatulence and intestinal disorders as well as cough, sore throat and respiratory problems. Taken together, warm milk and honey are more effective on staphylococcus bacteria than milk or honey alone.
If one of us had a cough, cold or sore throat, Mom would boil up a big pot of water. She put it on a towel on the kitchen table, and draped a sheet or other available fabric over it (do not use plastic). Sometimes she rigged up a makeshift tent by attaching the fabric to a ceiling hook with a piece of string. This made a small sauna.
We stuck our heads into the tent-sauna and inhaled the steam until the water cooled. Not only did it help our coughs, sore throat or stuffiness, but it gave our skin a healthy glow.
Sweating helps clear impurities from the body, and steam is the best way to unclog pores in the face and chest. Steam helps clear the sinuses and soothe a cough or sore throat.
Ginger is also an effective remedy for upset stomach and nausea. As a cough cure, add grated ginger to tea, or make a medicinal tonic by adding ginger to lime juice.
In India, basil has long been used for medicinal and religious purposes. The ancient treatises on Ayurveda (a system of traditional medicine) say that regular ingestion of basil “keeps palate, throat, teeth, gums, bronchus and lungs free of infection.”
To treat a cough, chew fresh basil leaves for the juice, or mix fresh/dry basil leaves with honey. Take 2 tsp a day of the honey mixture, by itself or in milk or tea.
Make basil tea by steeping a handful of fresh basil leaves in a cup of just-boiled water for 2-4 minutes.
7. Hot Toddy (Adults Only)
The hot toddy has long been touted for its medicinal properties. This hot alcoholic beverage can soothe sore throat, cold and cough, and helps you sleep soundly. A hot toddy has a strong sedative effect, so don’t plan any sudden moves after drinking one.
Drink in moderation. Not for children.
Recipe for Hot Toddy
- one cup hot water or green tea
- 2 whole cloves
- cinnamon stick
- 1 lemon wedge or 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 ounces brandy, scotch OR rum
Add cloves and cinnamon stick to hot water or tea. If using tea, let tea steep for 2-4 minutes. Add honey and lemon. Add liquor of choice. Serve hot.
8. Home-Made Chicken Soup
Canned soup doesn’t cut it. Fresh chicken or turkey has healing properties, and is also known to elevate mood. In the simple chicken soup recipe below, the garlic, basil and onion provide valuable antioxidant and antiseptic benefits. Garlic boosts the immune system and is also linked to heart health. Basil has long been known for its cough-relieving qualities, and is high in essential nutrients. A dash of hot sauce helps clear the sinuses.
This is a basic chicken soup recipe. Feel free to adjust the ingredients to taste.
- leftover chicken bones, with some meat still on them
- add 1 cube chicken bullion or chicken stock (= one cup chicken broth)
- one small onion, diced, or onion greens
- vegetables – peas, carrots, celery, broccoli, cabbage, kale, or whatever you have handy
- pasta, potatoes or instant rice
- 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, or to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh basil or 1-2 tsp dried basil
- fresh ground pepper
- shot of hot sauce
- salt, to taste
- optional: a bay leaf
- optional: Add 1 Tbsp oil or 1/2 Tbsp butter (even if you’re on a diet, a small amount of added fat helps the body absorb over twice as many essential vitamins from vegetables and leafy greens)
Put leftover chicken bones in a medium saucepan. Add water until chicken bones are submerged. Boil gently on medium until meat separates from bones (about one hour). Remove bones from pot. Clean off the meat and add meat to soup. Discard bones.
Add 1 tbsp oil or 1/2 tbsp butter, if desired. Add diced onion or onion greens. Add bay leaf if desired. Add a shot of hot sauce.
If using potatoes, chop 2 medium potatoes and add. If using instant rice or pasta, wait until about 15 minutes before soup is done, to prevent over-cooking.
Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Chicken stock often contains salt, so added salt may not be necessary.
Simmer 1-2 hours over low heat to allow flavors to blend. Leave uncovered to allow water to boil off. Add more water or chicken broth if soup is too thick. If using rice or pasta, add it about fifteen minutes before you’re ready to eat the soup.
See also: Linden for Health and Good Luck.