Cold and flu season brings on hacking coughs that can leave your chest aching and your spirits low – and it’s not just a ‘winter thing’. Coughs happen all year round. So what can you do to soothe a cough, especially when you’re not keen on pumping your body (or your kids) full of synthetic chemical medications? Here are 4 top tips to help you breathe easier, naturally.
1. Stay hydrated
Upper respiratory tract infections like colds and flu cause postnasal drip. Extra secretions trickle down the back of your throat and irritate it, causing (or exacerbating) your cough. Solution? Drink more fluids (tea included!). It thins the mucous helping lessen the irritation.
2. Try nature’s cough remedy
You don’t have to suffer a bad cough just because you can’t, or don’t want to use medicines. Nature has a bountiful array of tried-and-true remedies….and the sweetest of all? Honey!
Honey’s soothing powers are far from just an old wives’ tale; it has been scientifically proven for cough relief.
A 2010 peer review concluded that honey was more effective than placebo in reducing the frequency of a cough and improving sleep quality. Another study compared honey favourably with the common cough suppressant, dextromethorphan. Honey is a natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial which coats the throat, providing an instant soothing effect and calming the cough reflex.
But don’t start swiping the jar from the breakfast table just yet. There are specific natural cough syrups based on quality medicinal honey, but with extra soothing, throat-friendly ingredients which might pack an even better cold-fighting punch.
Bosisto’s Natural Cough Syrup is a great example. With natural honey, it also includes the traditional decongestant properties of eucalyptus and the refreshing tang of lemon in a delicious formula the whole family will love. It’s free from artificial nasties and suitable for ages 2 and over – a rare find these days.
3. Get steamy
Our mucous membranes, which line the respiratory tract, need moisture to do their job properly. A dry, parched environment hinders their ability to clear our airways, making coughs worse. Ideal lung-friendly humidity is around 50% but most homes in winter sit at much less – largely due to artificial heating that sucks the moisture out of the air.
Using a warm steam vaporiser to increase humidity is the perfect solution. Why steam vaporiser? Like a cool mist humidifier, they increase the ambient humidity in the room, but the steam they produce is heated and sterilised, helping reduce the potential for bacteria, mould or mineral deposits in the air.
Because the water is heated, any normal tap water can be used without fear of spreading micro-organisms. Plus, running a vaporiser in the bedroom at night has added therapeutic benefits - helping reduce congestion and relaxing the larynx muscles, easing a persistent cough.
Taking a hot, steamy shower is another great way to both feel better and help clear the lungs. A great tip is to add a dash of eucalyptus oil (or Spray) to the base of the shower – away from your feet to avoid slippage – and enjoy the refreshing, head clearing effect as the hot steam vaporises the essential oil.
4. Remove irritants
Scented air fresheners and bathroom sprays may seem benign, but for some people the artificial fragrances and other chemicals they contain can cause chronic sinus irritation, producing extra mucous that leads to a chronic cough.
Avoid synthetic scents and try natural essential oils, such as Bosisto’s Eucalyptus, Lavender or Tea Tree Sprays to freshen and clean your home instead. For some great hints and DIY tips for cleaning with essential oils, you can download our free Handy Hints brochure pdf here.
Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your doctor.