For instance, the safest way to treat a cough is not to try to eliminate it completely, but rather to soothe the throat. Many people rely on cough drops for that purpose. The Practical Encyclopedia of Natural Healing by Mark Bricklin (1983) says that:
The active ingredients in many commercial cough drops, suitable for common, uncomplicated coughs, are wholly or largely herbal. One English brand [Fisherman's Friend], for instance, “which is quite powerful, contains eucalyptus oil, cubeb (an extract of the berries, I presume), tinctUre of capsicum (an extract of red pepper in alcohol), extract of glycyrrhiza (licorice), and menthol (the essential oil derived from peppermint). All this is put together in some kind of sugar base, although they don't specify what kind. Many cough drops use honey instead of sugar.
You can make your own herbal preparations for coughs colds and sore throats, too. Instead of gargling with some commercial mouthwash, make your own herbal gargle, starting with a strong brew of elder blossoms and sage leaves and tops. To this add some honey, a small amount of oil of sweet almonds, and five drops of oil of cloves for every 8 fl. oz of gargle. A strong tea made from honeysuckle may help soothe mucous membranes. And kidney beans when brewed and boiled (for at least 10 minutes) with garlic, may go a long way towards relieving a persistent cough.
For a post-nasal drip-related cough that might keep you from sleeping, one source advises sleeping on your stomach.
Lots of fluids, such as fruit juices and chicken soup, work better than expectorants, others say. Vaporizers and humidifiers sometimes help a cough but adding aromatic jellies to the steam may lower the body's resistance to infection, according to one doctor we consulted.
Subodh Jain is a freelance writer with more than 25 years experience as a health care professional. He is a contributing editor to Home remedies , a site dedicated to the natural remedies for common ailments .