Homemade Cough Medicine

Honey and lemon make an effective cough syrup.

Have you ever had a nagging, irritating cough that just won’t go away? This wreaks havoc with your sleep, and it’s also embarrassing when you can’t complete a phone call or conversation because of a coughing attack. Common household products can be combined to make an effective homemade cough medicine.


A hacking cough can be caused by the common cold, flu, asthma or allergic irritants such as dust, smoke, chemical fumes and pollen in the air. Weather changes also can cause sinus drainage and exacerbate an irritating cough. Coughing is an automatic response by your lungs to irritants. Coughing effectively clears the respiratory passage ways, enabling you to breathe better.


Honey is widely recommended as a natural home remedy for coughing. In the Vol. 161, No. 12, December 2007 issue of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine is information about a study that showed regular buckwheat honey was just as effective in curing a cough as over-the-counter drugs such as dextromethorphan and dipenhydramine. Honey has the added benefit of not causing side effects such as dizziness and headaches.

Honey’s effect on a cough may be due simply to its naturally thick, sticky texture. As a result, it soothes irritated mucous membranes, which activate the cough reflex.

Heating one-quarter cup of honey mixed with a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice in a microwave and drinking it is one of the simplest forms of homemade cough remedies. Warm it for just a few seconds, until it becomes thinner in consistency.

Ingredients of a popular recipe for cough medicine found at recipezaar.com are: one-quarter teaspoon each of ground ginger and cayenne pepper; one tablespoon each of honey and apple cider vinegar; and two tablespoons of water. Mix all the ingredients, and take one teaspoon as needed to quiet coughs. The ginger will calm an upset stomach, which often results from sinus drainage. The cayenne pepper, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar will help rid your body of the excess mucus that often causes the cough reflex action.

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Cutting a lemon in half, sprinkling it with black pepper and salt and sucking on it can be useful for a cough caused by post-nasal drip.

Eating grapes or drinking grape juice has an expectorant action and is helpful in relieving coughing, too.

Gargling with warm saltwater is recommended often by doctors for patients who have sore throats or a nagging cough. Mix one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of water and gargle the mixture for 60 seconds. Repeat this three times a day until symptoms subside.

Gargling with spinach juice that has been warmed slightly is good for a dry, scratchy cough.

Make a steam bath by boiling hot water in a pot; add some mint and eucalyptus leaves and let the mixture boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover your head with a towel as you lean over the pot and breathe in the steam. Make sure the pot is in a stable area to avoid burning yourself with the hot water. Breathing the steam will help to relieve sinus pressure and to thin and loosen mucus.

Adding a few drops of juniper, peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil to unscented lotion and rubbing it on your chest can be effective at quieting a nighttime cough.


Never use honey for an infant under the age of 1 year because of the risk of botulism.

If your child has hyperactivity problems, you should consult your pediatrician before using honey as a cough syrup due to its naturally high sugar content.

Coughing can be a sign of a more serious ailment, such as bronchitis, asthma or upper respiratory infections; see a doctor if your cough is severe or chronic.

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