Simple No-Cough Tea (herbal tisane, actually…) and other natural cough remedies.

The bad news is that I was up with my four-year-old in the middle of the night.  We tried a number of things to stop her incessant cough, ending in the tea.  I didn’t start with tea because she doesn’t really like it, and there were a couple other things I could try first.  They didn’t work this time, but the good news is that the tea did.

My husband had a childhood full of asthma and tends to somewhat panic when our children cough, as he immediately correlates coughing with, “MY CHILD CAN’T BREATHE AND SOMETHING MUST BE DONE NOW.”  I appreciate his sympathy, and frankly, his urgency regarding coughing has kicked my rear end into gear a number of times when I would be content to just let my kids cough it out.

For everyone’s benefit, I now try to identify coughs better:

  • Is this asthma and my child really can’t breathe?
  • Is this a “wet” cough because my child is on the recovery-end of an illness and s/he is coughing up mucus (which is a good thing)?
  • Or are they just coughing incessantly and it’s disrupting their sleep, spreading germs, and not having any productive effect?

Fi’s was the third.  She miserable, unable to sleep, had been coughing for several hours to the point where her stomach muscles were aching from coughing so badly.  And weakened stomach muscles often = puking in our home, and I determined that for her peace, to keep food in her stomach, and to reduce the chance of the cough spreading to the other six in our family, we needed to address the cough.

First, we tried an oregano oil breathing treatment.  “My” oregano oil breathing treatment works AMAZING WONDERS on my 11 year-old son’s asthma.  It is also fabulous for deep-down lung pain and infection.  Fiala’s cough seemed more upper-respiratory, so I didn’t have much hope that it would work for her, but I thought I’d try.

Oregano Oil Breathing Treatment

This requires a nebulizer, typically used for albuterol breathing treatments.

Into the medicine receptacle of the nebulizer, place:

  1. Turn the nebulizer on and breathe deeply.  Inhale and hold for a few seconds.  Repeat for 3-10 deep breaths.  This DOES put a little tickle at the back of one’s throat, and breathing oregano oil is kind of a learned skill.  However, if my young children can do it, you can, too!
  2. Alternately, you can put 2-3 drops into a large mug, fill it with boiling water, and breathe the steam deeply for as long as possible.

Oregano oil is an amazing product that is virucidal, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal.  It is also anti-parasitic.  I’m uncertain WHY it works on asthma, and there is less research on oregano oil’s effectiveness on asthma (unlike various funguses, bacteria, and viruses, which has been studied and proven effective numerous times).

Colloidal silver has effectiveness against a variety of viruses, bacteria, and funguses, as well.

Secondly, we tried:

Simplest Cough Remedy

  • Honey

Available in many health food stores for about $9, or online for $7-8.

Studies have shown that up to 10 ml (two tsp) of honey is as effective as dextromethorphan for relieving the coughs of colds in children with upper respiratory tract infections.

My daughter Fiala, in particular, is super-suceptible to yeast/candida overgrowth, so I limit her sugar intake, including honey.  And even though honey is good for just about anyone for a wide variety of reasons, I’m still leery of sugar, even natural sugars.  So, I would never give a whole 2 tsp to anyone.

Our favorite “medicinal” honey is from Y.S. Organic Bee Farms and is called Super-Enriched Honey.  It is raw and unpasteurized and contains pollen, propolis, and royal jelly.  It is really thick and has an unusual taste.  I find it pleasant, but if you’re expecting a honey-taste found akin to that found in the McDonald’s honey packet, you’ll probably be startled.

I simply scoop up a small spoonful of honey and let the child slowly lick it.  Consequently, when anyone coughs even a tiny bit in our home, they tend to come running with a certain proclamation of, “I need a honey spoon!”

When neither the herbal breathing treatment nor honey was doing any good, I brewed up a batch of my no-cough tea.

No-Cough Tea

Into a wire mesh tea ball, place:

  • Fennel seed — and, YES, I’m thrilled if your medicine cabinet and your spice rack are one and the same.

    2 tsp loose chamomile flowers

  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/8 tsp licorice root powder
  • optional:  1/2 tsp dried peppermint leaves
  • optional:  1 tsp dried mullein flower (verbascum thapsis)
  1. Place tea ball in a very large mug and pour boiling water over the top.  Let steep 10-15 minutes, then stir well.
  2. Sweeten with honey (especially if you didn’t use a “honey spoon” to stop the cough) or stevia, or simply don’t sweeten at all, as the licorice root lends a sweet taste.
  3. Put 1/4 cup of the brewed tea in a smaller mug and let child sip slowly for 10-20 minutes.
  4. If cough hasn’t stopped, repeat with 1/4 cup doses.
  5. This may take up to ONE HOUR for effectiveness — in other words, 3-6 doses of 1/4 cup each over the course of an hour, until coughs subside.
  6. Extremely effective for stopping coughs for 3-4 hours.  So, repeat throughout the day as necessary, trying to re-dose before your child returns to violent coughing.

(For readers local to the Phoenix area, all of the tea ingredients can be found at Sprouts.  All of the herbs — except the mullein — can be found in the bulk spice area.  Mullein flower can be found, packaged, hanging close to the “regular” tea and herb area, God’s Garden Pharmacy brand.)

What the ingredients are and why they work:

  • Chamomile (matricaria recutita) flowers have antianxiety, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-spasmodic properties, mainly due to chamomile’s natural phytonutrient, chamazulene.  The “anti-inflammatory” and “anti-spasmodic” characteristics especially important for calming coughs.
  • Beautiful, fragrant thyme.

    Thyme (thymus vulgaris) is a strong antiseptic.  Its natural phytonutrient, thymol, is actually the active ingredient in classic Listerine.  Thymol is also an active ingredient in most naturally-based antiseptic cleaners.  For coughs, thyme is effective not only in destroying germs, but it is a powerful anti-spasmodic and has bronchial-clearing properties.  (Thyme oil is extremely strong and should be used with caution.  However, using a pinch of the dried herb itself is safe for just about everyone, pregnant women and small children included.)  Thyme does have somewhat of an unpleasant “green/herbal” taste in tea;  however, do not omit it!!

  • Fennel, in general, is truly a miracle plant.  It is by far one of the most nutritious and helpful plants one can consume — from bulb to stem to feathery top to seed.  I personally cannot understand why it is not at the top of “Superfood” lists!  Fennel, as well as being anti-spasmodic, is also a pain-reducer, fever-reducer, and has antimicrobial activity.  It soothes upset stomachs and speeds healing of muscle strains (including muscles sore from incessant coughing!).  Fennel’s “magic” properties are largely due to the phytonutrients creosol (also found in chaparral and creosote) and alpha-pinene.  (Again, use the whole herb — fennel seed, not fennel oil, which is extremely strong and dangerous, if used incorrectly.)
  • If you have ever had Throat Coat tea by Traditional Medicinals, licorice root is the main ingredient, followed by mullein.  Licorice is extensively used, world-wide, as a remedy for an astounding number of ailments, from lupus, to cancer, to diabetes, to chronic fatigue syndrome, to HIV/AIDS and more.  Its effectiveness is primarily from the naturally-occurring phytonutrient glycyrrhizinic acid which, among other properties, acts as an incredibly effective immune stimulant.  For our purposes here, licorice root relieves the dry, tickly feeling associated with hacking coughs — as well as shortens the healing time needed to recover from illness.
  • Peppermint has properties helpful to those with coughs and colds — however, the flavor rather clashes with the flavors found both in thyme, fennel, and licorice root.  Peppermint contains the phytonutrient menthol, long known for relieving coughs and other respiratory disorders.  An alternate tea, especially if your child enjoys the mint flavor, would be simply chamomile and peppermint.
  • Mullein (verbascum thapsus) has soothing, emollient effects via its plentiful, naturally-occurring mucilages.  It also reduces inflammation via natural tannins.  Mullein promotes expectoration, meaning it loosens phlegm in the respiratory tract, causing coughs to be more effective.

I dearly hope that some readers find this useful.  If you do, post a comment and let me know!!

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About Karen Joy

I'm a homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 17, 15 and 12 years old, and three girls: 8 and 5 years old, and our newest, born in June 2013. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I am a natural childbirth advocate and fledgling birthing class instructor. I'm a CSA coordinator for a local organic farm, Crooked Sky Farms. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on February 26, 2013, in Allergies, Clean Eating, Family, Health, Loving Nature!, Medical Stuff, Science, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’ve had a pepermint tea/licorricey type tea that helped in addition to the orregano. Thats worked best for my loss of voice and sore throat/ cough!
    Thanks for sharing Karen!

  2. Whiskey & honey always seems to work for us altho we never told the non-adults what it was that was in it. All they knew was that it tasted kinda icky but kinda good, both at the same time (whiskey-icky, honey-good). The honey coated their throat until the whiskey helped them to doze off… and once they dozed off, the coughing usually stopped (why is that, I wonder??).

    Prayers for wellness–Andrea
    XOXOXO

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